#LaborDay Inspiration: Young Innovators Find Success By Following Their Passion

Photo: Young entrepreneurs. (Getty Images)

While you’re sunning, grilling, or chilling this weekend, why not take a second to think about what Labor Day is all about. We’re highlighting five of the most passionate, driven, young entrepreneurs and CEOs out there for inspiration to fuel your Labor Day weekend.

I mean, come on, we don’t just get a day off school or work for nothing, folks! In fact, this day of rest was formed to recognize the social and economic achievements of the American workforce. All this talk of jobs and achievement and economy tends to make us more aware of what we already know…that times are pretty dang tough right now. But instead of letting a slumping job market get us down, let’s reflect on the resourcefulness, ingenuity and creativity that has always made the American workforce such a powerhouse.

Here are five young people using their passion as a driving force to make the world a better place, and making a way for themselves professionally in the meantime:

+ Matthew Segal and a team of young Americans under 30 launched Our Time and its Buy Young campaign, “an online marketplace aggregating hundreds of young companies to reinforce the fact that young Americans are major contributors to the success of the U.S. economy and key drivers of job creation.” Pushing back against the 16.6 percent unemployment rate for Americans age 18 to 24, the companies promoted through Buy Young have created more than 7,000 new jobs (and counting) for businesses started by entrepreneurs under age 30.

+ Daniel Gomez Iniguez founded the biofuel company Solben pretty much by accident. It all started as a research project he needed to complete for high school graduation in 2008. Then whoops…he ended up with a multimillion dollar company! Dontcha hate when that happens? After a little internet research on making biodiesel at home, he took a university class (for no credit) in biodiesel production and joined a biodiesel club. Through his connections, he developed relationships that would take his ideas to the next level. He and his partners now produce the technology to make biodiesel fuel from algae and the Jatropha plant. Meanwhile, he’s still working on that education, studying chemical engineering at Tecnologico de Monterrey.

+ Sam Vaghar, 24, is the co-founder and director of the Millennium Campus Network (MCN), the national network of student organizations united with one goal in mind–to end poverty in our lifetime. Vaghar, his dedicated team and a passionate advisory board, including singer John Legend, organize conferences around the country to inspire and educate college students to take action toward the UN Millennium Development Goals.

+ Lauren Bush, 27, is the CEO of FEED Projects and the model/designer niece of former President George W. Bush. As a spokesperson for the UN’s World Food Programme, Lauren took her knowledge of hunger issues and put it an a bag–literally. Her FEED bags (and now clothing and other gear) have a simple mission: to feed one child with the purchase of each reusable shopping bag. FEED has now provided more than 58 million meals to hungry children worldwide.

+ Amanda Holt, creator of Shatterbox, has formed an online community for twentysomething college students and young professionals who need, or want to offer, a little career inspiration. She and her team hunt down passionate, successful peeps like the ones we’ve highlighted here, and have them share their stories. Like a refreshing, ice-cold lemonade on a hot summer Labor Day, Shatterbox is a tall glass of water for the frustrated, disheartened or inspiration-seeking career newbie.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to pave our own ways in the workforce and make a career out of our passions. Not just to pay the rent, but to give back to world and reignite the American spirit!

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Belong to a student organization that would like to help change the world by ending poverty? Get involved with the Millenium Campus Network.