Students pursue passions by creating their own businesses


Flying a drone, senior Matthew Jortberg takes photos for his drone photography business. Similar to Jortberg, many other students have used their passions to start their own businesses. Photo courtesy of Matthew Jortberg.

Lauren Bianco and Augie Mikell, staff writers

Many South students work sometime during their high school career at retail stores, summer camps or even as babysitters. There are, however, a minority of students who have started their own businesses based off of passions they have and want to pursue.

Junior Matt Moran has been working as a freelance website developer for the past four years, meaning he is not associated under a company and does all of his work individually. According to Moran, the most important aspect of his job is knowing how to talk to clients.

“You don’t know how [the clients are] going to [react] to something, so you have to be really [careful] with what you say,” Moran said. “You have to simplify things because they don’t understand the technical language in the [website] industry, [which] is hard. You want to get as much information out of them so you can make the website as they ask.”

During his time as a freelancer, Moran believes that his first major success was his work on a website for a landscaping company.

“[The company] actually loved [my work] and I’m pretty proud of [it], looking back,” Moran said. “That website really made me pursue programming and art, and I already know that is what I want to study for the rest of my life.”

Similar to Moran, senior Matthew Jortberg has a business of his own as well. He’s an individually licensed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drone photographer and makes photos and videos for real estate agents. According to Jortberg, he was inspired to pursue this job after seeing it promoted in the media.

“I saw drone footage being used a lot more in real estate marketing [and] also in television,” Jortberg said. “The technology is developing very quickly right now. I’m interested in tech and software and also a bit of photography, so it’s the perfect hobby and business for me.”

In order to find his way into the business, Jortberg said he had to take initiative and reach out to people on his own.

“My friend’s parents ran a home appraisal service, so he had connections with a lot of realtors in the area [and] he connected me to some of the larger agencies and their heads of marketing at these real estate companies,” Jortberg said. “I [then] set up a website, Facebook page [and] Instagram page and actually got some leads through those [sources].”

Contrary to Moran and Jortberg, senior Chaerim Park is still in the process of forming her online business. She is creating a platform that will allow artists to promote and sell their work. According to Park, the idea to start this business came to her over the summer before her junior year.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own business and be an entrepreneur,” Park said. “It hit me when I was in my U.S. History class [in summer school, and] I started writing down my ideas and [thoughts].”

Park is currently working on the project individually. Because she is working by herself, she believes that this has pushed challenges into her path of developing the business.

“I’m on my own, so I have to be the one who is constantly making sure everything’s [going well],” Park said. “Taking initiative [is important as I need to] take action to create what I would want [my] platform to look like and [recruit] people [to] be the creators.”

Throughout his time in his business, Moran said he has failed a great number of times. However, he believes that the mistakes he has made happened for the best.

“I’ve had a client downright denounce my work and said they absolutely hated it,” Moran said. “I think it’s really important to fail along the way because it has [helped me] improve. I value my work as I have those failures under my belt and I’ve learned a lot.”

Jortberg believes one of the hardest things he has encountered in his business is marketing his services as a new businessmen.

“I had to wait a long time between when I got my [FAA] license to when I had my first customer because no one knew about me,” Jortberg said. “[Marketing] is really just branching out to people and making sure you tell everyone you know about what you’re doing. If no one knows, no one will ever contact you and you won’t make any money.”

By creating her own business, Park has learned that nothing will get done if she doesn’t go out and do it herself.

“I’ve learned that things that are up in my mind can’t happen by itself,” Park said. “I can be in control of [my business] and I can be [as] creative as I want to be. I need to actually take action to create what I want and what my vision is.”