As we think about the skills necessary for our students to succeed in today’s modern economy one can’t help but notice an increasing gap. According to research by Northeastern University 73 percent of business leaders believe there is a skills gap among today’s U.S. workforce and 87 percent contend that most college graduates lack the skills critical to success (Aoun et. al, 2014). I believe we need to find a way in our upper schools to begin to bridge that gap. With an increasing number of jobs requiring an entrepreneurial spirit I believe we should find a way to offer opportunities in this area.
Providing an effective vehicle for entrepreneurship education brings the concept of venture creation and a spirit of innovation to students at a time when they are preparing to form their own futures. This type of education has been noted to inspire students to apply what they are learning along with increasing self confidence and problem solving. These skills along with an understanding of one’s propensity for risk taking as well as an appreciation for mentoring and networking are in high demand from employers. (Russell et al., 2008)
As Fiet notes in “The theoretical side of teaching entrepreneurship” (as cited in Gielnik et. al, 2013) a theoretical basis is important because it gives the training participants guidance in what they should do instead of only describing what other entrepreneurs have done. Therefore I believe we should start with a class focus on what it takes to be an entrepreneur. This class will be structured as a traditional class with reading and discussions but will also have a significant number of guest speakers. These guest speakers will come from our vast network of parents and alumni who are entrepreneurs themselves. Then in the second half of this class students will use their knowledge to develop their own business plans.
The next step would be to have those students who wish to continue in the entrepreneurial track to apply to be a part of a cohort. Once accepted students in the cohort will choose one business plan to put into action. They then will enter the pre-launch phase. The pre-launch phase is where the entrepreneurial team will assemble all the necessary resources. During this year students will have to be proactive to convert their long term wishes into intention via OTIUM (opportunity, time, importance, urgency, and means). The opportunity will be identified and evaluated. The time and means for the launch will need to be assembled. The will spend this phase defining the importance and urgency of each activity as they encounter the inevitable roadblocks of constructing their new business. (Frese, 2009)
Then students will then enter the launch phase. This phase is characterized by the starting of the organization, the first sale and the problem solving necessary to evaluate and overcome the obstacles of a new business. This phase is also characterized by setting short and long term goals to assess the viability and growth of the new business as well as dealing with diverse and often conflicting demands. (Frese, 2009)
In the student’s final year they will need to find an opportunity for an internship outside of the business they have created. This will allow them to explore in depth how other businesses are run. During their internship they will reflect on the business they constructed and how they could use their new knowledge to improve.
Throughout this process students will create an ePortfolio of their learning experiences. Consistent to relevant learning theories, these ePortfolios could be viewed as occupying the highest form of knowledge and skill integration (Anderson, Krathwohl, & Bloom, 2001). The students will be reflecting on the development of all of their professional skills in the process of taking charge of their own digital footprint (Fitch et. al 2008). Eportfolios not only provide an avenue for authentic reflection, they also provide students with a means of demonstrating their skill set, education, and relevant experiences. (Chatham-Carpenter, Seawel, & Raschig, 2009) This will serve as not only a great demonstration of their time in the entrepreneurial program but also as a differentiator in their college admissions process as well as future intern applications.
Summary of Entrepreneurial Track
Year 1 – Entrepreneurial Class (anyone can register for)
- Traditional class with guest speakers
- Second half includes creation of a business plan
- Creation of personal website to follow their journey
- Creation of video, print and digital advertisements for their potential business
Year 2 – Pre-launch Phase (cohort of students based on an application process)
- Converting business plan to action plan via OTIUM (opportunity, time, importance, urgency, and means)
- Meet with mentors for guidance in building their business
- Discover and implement the various technologies necessary for success (website, online commerce, bookkeeping etc.)
- Continue personal website documenting journey
Year 3 – Launch Phase (cohort continues)
- Continue with pre-launch phase mentors and technologies
- Starting of organization, sales, discovery and assessment of short and long term business goals for success
Year 4 – Growth and Internship Phase (cohort continues)
- Continuation of launch and pre-launch mentors and technologies and adjust as needed
- External internship
- Growth of business
- Decision on future of business upon graduation
Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.
Aoun, J. E., Gottlieb, G., Selingo, J., & Miller, K. (2014, April 29). Enhancing the Talent Pipeline | Innovation Imperative | Northeastern University. Retrieved September 02, 2016, from http://www.northeastern.edu/innovationsurvey/talent-pipeline/
Chatham-Carpenter, A., Seawel, L., & Raschig, J. (2009). Avoiding the Pitfalls: Current Practices and Recommendations for ePortfolios in Higher Education. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 38(4), 437-456. doi:10.2190/et.38.4.e
Fitch, Dale, Melissa Peet, Beth Glover Reed, and Richard Tolman. “THE USE OF EPORTFOLIOS IN EVALUATING THE CURRICULUM AND STUDENT LEARNING.” Journal of Social Work Education 44.3 (2008): 37-54. Web.
Frese, M. (2009). Toward a psychology of entrepreneurship: An action theory perspective. Hanover, MA: Now.
Gielnik, M. M., M. Frese, A. Kahara-Kawuki, I. Wasswa Katono, S. Kyejjusa, M. Ngoma, J. Munene, R. Namatovu-Dawa, F. Nansubuga, L. Orobia, J. Oyugi, S. Sejjaaka, A. Sserwanga, T. Walter, K. M. Bischoff, and T. J. Dlugosch. “Action and Action-Regulation in Entrepreneurship: Evaluating a Student Training for Promoting Entrepreneurship.” Academy of Management Learning & Education 14.1 (2013): 69-94. Web.
Russell, R., Atchison, M., & Brooks, R. (2008). Business plan competitions in tertiary institutions: Encouraging entrepreneurship education. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 30(2), 123–138.