The difference between an entrepreneur and a jobseeker lies in their respective mindsets. While the entrepreneur will focus on improving his skills, the jobseeker is a perfectionist focusing on improving his weaknesses. An entrepreneur is ready to take the risk of an uncertain future but the jobseeker prefers stability and security. The go-getter attitude of an entrepreneur is what makes him drastically different from an employee. He is not afraid to experiment and he will not hesitate to say “no” to opportunities.
With rapid changes in global business patterns, students do not get time to get used to the challenges of the new environment. They are inexperienced and complexities of the business world in which they are thrown into are hard to handle. Business courses are essentially theoretical and not designed to teach students how to deal with the day-to-day company issues. In this situation, many top-notch universities are trying to encourage the growth of entrepreneurs rather than ordinary jobseekers by:
One such university is the Rice University that was originally founded to promote science, literature and art. Now, it has introduced courses in entrepreneurship, finances, even arranging for workshops and programs for students keen to become entrepreneurs. Even as early as a decade ago, universities could have settled for only a few courses in entrepreneurship. But, the demands have soared with time as there have many success stories in the recent past which have inspired students. This has led many colleges to rethink their academic offerings. In this regard, mention should be made also of the Harvard Innovation Lab that enabled its students to start their own businesses. Similar entrepreneur labs have come up in the New York University and the Northwestern University. Princeton, on its part, also opened many entrepreneurship courses and allotted space for student incubator programs. This trend is fast catching on in other states and today as many as 400,000 students are enrolled for entrepreneurship programs in the US.
Another initiative that the top universities are taking today is to support these courses and programs by raising money. They are also actively looking for capable mentors among local businessmen and alumni. Some universities are even offering stipends for those taking part in accelerator programs. They are providing seed capital for start-ups while some are backing revenue-sharing systems for graduates keen to put their business ideas into practice. For instance, the lab at N.Y.U has been financed by Mark Leslie, who is a university trustee and founder of Veritas Software.
Universities are also looking at the prospect of introducing case studies in their curriculum to allow students to get an experience of the real-life business environment. Students are made to read about the past and current business successes. They learn about the operational hazards of this profession and the methods or strategies that have helped executives to take the right decisions. Most universities are offering business case studies in the graduate courses and talks are on to start these even at the undergraduate levels.
Many universities have sought to link their entrepreneurship courses with real-world business challenges. A professor teaching his students about social media can use real world examples like Twitter or Facebook to make his point.
The best way to produce entrepreneurs from college is to give students the chance to get hands-on experience through contests. Social entrepreneurship firms and tech start-ups can draw students from colleges to take part. In such contests, the participating students can be put into groups to compete against one another. At times, such events can even be sponsored by groups of colleges.
Many of the top-ranking colleges have partnerships with big business names. So, they send their students to work in these companies on a temporary basis from time to time. Entrepreneurship-in-Residence offers a great opportunity for students to interact with experienced and successful entrepreneurs. In such programs, the start-up's founders are paired with students and they mentor them. According to Michael Simmons of Empact, the colleges are working as a glue which binds the students to the entire ecosystem.
To make students passionate about entrepreneurship, colleges are also trying to invite business stalwarts to deliver presentations. They are requested to share their personal experiences with the students and perhaps even teach them a course.
To make entrepreneurship courses more engaging, universities are offering consulting services for non-profit organizations and small businesses. This helps students to learn the practical stuff, ways to cope with business monotony etc. Colleges on their part make money because these companies pay well for such consulting services.
A rather effective initiative which colleges are taking to promote entrepreneurship is by helping students start their own ventures. Both the students and colleges work together conducting market research or formulating viable strategies.
Institution for higher studies can kick-start their students’ entrepreneurial careers by including technology topics in their syllabus. This is to help students learn how to use technology to communicate and innovate, to advertise and generate profit.
An instance of a successful start-up by Canadian students in the Simon Fraser University is the Fusion Kitchen. Started by Sonam Swarup and Chantelle Buffie, this venture offers culinary classes by immigrants. They teach how to make ethnic dishes and participants pay about $60-$80 for a lesson.
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