Never has it been more important to help our students reach their full potential while we have them in front of us! Entrepreneurship is a great asset HESA professionals can utilize in our work to make valuable to our students. How are you incorporating entrepreneurship into your time with your students? How can entrepreneurship be utilized better by us professionals? Do you have a side hustle that you’d like to share with our profession? Leave your business in the comments! -Michelle
This piece is written by Jean Enock Denis of Florida Atlantic University
Students are enrolled into colleges and universities to gain knowledge that will allow them to successfully secure employment after graduation. Increasingly, employers are seeking employees who are ready to bring new ideas to the workplace. Therefore, today’s college graduates need to be nimble, flexible, and lifelong learners. Teaching students about entrepreneurship is one way to prepare students to be successful candidates for employment. The Kauffman Foundation defines entrepreneurship as, “the transformation of an innovation into a sustainable enterprise that generates value” (Kauffman Foundation, 2007, p. 4). Higher education can help students prepare to lead, disrupt, and innovate throughout their careers by teaching them the principles of entrepreneurship. The purpose of this article is to explore how student affairs professionals can help to incorporate entrepreneurship into higher education.
Entrepreneurship in Higher Education
Student affairs professionals may introduce entrepreneurship into higher education by segmenting the Kauffman Foundation’s definition of entrepreneurship into a three-step framework: innovation, sustainable enterprise/practicality, and value. (Kauffman Foundation, 2007).
Innovation requires critical and creative thinking. Students involved in leadership positions on campus can practice being innovative through the programs that they develop. Student affairs professionals can challenge students to not just repeat the same program over and over in the name of tradition. Instead, they can be challenged by student affairs professionals to think bigger and bolder by asking students questions like, “If you were charged with completely overhauling this annual event, what would you do differently?”
Students should be encouraged to analyze the sustainability and creativity of solutions to the problems they encounter. Great entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, design products that are complex, yet are presented in a simple and elegant way. Students would learn how to formulate practical solutions. Moreover, solutions must be sustainable. For instance, after the students have come with the innovative way to do the event the student affairs professionals would ask questions such as “how do we deliver this innovative event in a simple and elegant way?” or “how do we create a system that allows us to constantly improve our offerings?”
Entrepreneurship is almost always the result of the search for solutions for the greater good, utilitarianism. Whether it is for a department, a school, a company or a specific industry. Students should be encouraged to analyze the value their solutions will generate. For example, in planning an event for a campus club, students need to carefully consider what added value this event might bring to members of the club and to the campus. Would this event leave a better image and impression of the club once it is over? Would this event promote the mission and values of the club? Would this event encourage more support for the club?
Training in entrepreneurship is an invaluable tool for college graduates to have as they seek employment. Student affairs professionals are in a unique position to prepare innovators, entrepreneurs, and problem solvers by teaching them the principles of entrepreneurship. The ultimate goal is to help students develop the entrepreneurial mindset that gives them a competitive edge, not only for seeking employment but for their entire professional career.
Kauffman Foundation. (2007). Entrepreneurship in American higher education. Kansas City,
MO: Carl J. Schramm.