Blog

August 13, 2021

Alumni interview: entrepreneur Henry Patterson

Henry Patterson set up his first business aged just nine-years-old. He has since launched several more business ventures, written a book, launched a satirical politically charged TikTok and regularly gives talks at major events and conferences around the world. We asked him to reflect on his career and experiences when he studied at InterHigh and how he feels about being an InterHigh ambassador and alumni. We asked him to reflect on his career and experiences when he studied at InterHigh and how he feels about being an InterHigh ambassador and alumni.

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I joined InterHigh in 2017, amidst a whirlwind of running businesses, learning the art of entrepreneurship and writing my book ‘Young and Mighty’, which features advice from inspiring people such as Richard Branson. Upon leaving InterHigh, that whirlwind is still very much in motion. I’ve started my own TikTok channel, which has been a crazy and exciting experience. I create political parodies reflecting on both UK and USA politics through song. Although I started my account as an experiment and because I love both politics and musicals, my videos have exploded in popularity! I have built a following of 130.7K people and my videos gain millions of views. TikTok has become my current focus and passion, although of course I still have many other projects on the go.
What was/were the reason(s) you joined InterHigh?
I had a tough time at school when I was younger. Teachers regularly told me I was useless because I didn’t fit the conventional school model. Any creativity or personality was pushed down instantly. At my former school, staff didn’t like people who break the mould and the hostile environment they facilitated began to negatively impact my mental health. I knew I had to make a change. I joined InterHigh because it offers a very flexible educational experience. I knew it would help me escape the toxicity of everyday school life which didn’t suit my entrepreneur lifestyle. Additionally, it enabled me to pursue speaking opportunities around the world and fulfil my true potential. I always want to push boundaries and challenge myself. InterHigh provided the perfect environment and support to achieve this.
What did you enjoy the most about learning at InterHigh?
Definitely the fact it is so flexible. I was worried at first the education would feel impersonal as classes are completed via video, but I soon realised this was not the case. InterHight doesn’t just stream lessons online. Instead, it has entirely re-imagined education by utilising the online world. Students can use online chats to ask questions either publicly or privately if you feel self-conscious or are concerned your question might be silly, and all the support you need to succeed is provided.
What skills did you learn along the way?
InterHigh teaches you how to master time management and focus. In physical schools, your class times naturally mean you will focus on a subject for an allotted period of time and your teacher is often responsible for structuring your time and managing your tasks. InterHigh is very different. As you’re learning from home, you will likely be tempted by an array of distractions, including phone notifications. To succeed, you need to learn how to manage these distractions and focus. Additionally, it is your responsibility to juggle your workload and deadlines. These are skills I have utilised time and time again after leaving InterHigh.
Did you experience any challenges during your time at InterHigh, and if so, how did you overcome them?
Before I knew about the lovely people in my class, I found it difficult to find the balance between having a social life and learning online. To solve this problem, I took up extracurricular activities that helped my personal development, satisfied my need for contact in real life and supported my wider studies. I took up musical theatre and joined local choirs, both of which have benefitted my TikTok channel and the creativity that underpins my entrepreneurship. It’s so important for young people to be given the time to develop these additional skills and interests outside of their formal education.
Did you feel ready and supported in taking the next step after finishing InterHigh?
InterHigh supported me in many ways as I took the next steps after finishing my education. I always knew I would leave after completing my GCSEs to pursue my passions and join a theatre school. InterHigh encouraged me every step of the way. It gave me the time I needed to explore my options and enhance my passions. This gave me confidence to pursue my aspirations.
What are you currently doing/working on?
TikTok is my main focus at the moment. Of course, as an entrepreneur, I’m always looking for ways to expand! The popularity of my TikTok has proven there’s a market for entertaining political analysis amongst young people. I want to go a step further, by creating an entertaining platform for young people to obtain accurate and factual news. Misinformation is very dangerous. I want to help combat this while making the news and political accessible and fun to all young people – watch this space!
What do you do when you fail?
I have failed many, many times. It happens to everyone! The most important thing is getting to know why you failed. Make sure you learn from it. For example, when videos don’t get enough traction or something is not working, I learn about my audience and what time is best post them to increase engagement. The important thing is to keep trying, keep improving and learn from your mistakes because I’ve learnt so much from mine. When you do this, failing becomes really valuable. Eventually, you will find that perfect mix of everything you’ve learned.
What does it mean to you to be an alumni ambassador for InterHigh?
I love being both an ambassador and alumni because it means I can speak from the student’s perspective because I understand how they feel. Joining an online school can be scary. It’s a new experience as you carve out the educational experience that’s right for you. I know how that feels. Now, I want to give back to InterHigh, as I couldn’t have achieved anywhere near the amount I have without it.
What would you say to other students who may never have considered this type of school?
I had some initial concerns when joining InterHigh. I was worried about missing out on socialisation and whether the learning experience would be personal enough to be effective, but these concerns were soon dispelled after I started my studies. It’s normal to have these concerns, but you have to focus on what you want to achieve. You don’t have to know all the answers. If you want a flexible working experience that caters to your interests, passions and lifestyle, InterHigh might be the perfect place for you. As an ambassador I'm always willing to speak to students! Alternatively, I would recommend joining an open day and giving it a go.
Do you have a favourite moment during your time at the school?
InterHigh is the reason I started TikTok! I wondered how I could jazz up a presentation I was tasked to give about mangroves, making it as entertaining as possible. I decided to present my work theatrically, of course, and did so to the tune of Mangrovian Rhapsody! From that point on, I started presenting all my homework theatrically. This was such a wonderful memory for me. InterHigh encourages students to put their own creative spin on projects. For the first time in school, I was allowed the creative freedom to be myself. Also, the international nature of the learning process gave me many unusual memories. One of my classmates completed their geography homework from the top of a mountain in the Middle East! This enabled me to learn about many different walks of life which is amazing.

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