Entrepreneurship is emerging as one of the key skill sets for success in the unstable job market, and Cheryl Dowell, the co-ordinator for the business management and entrepreneurship program, is helping to expose students to entrepreneurial learning opportunities.
Dowell proposed the idea of an ‘AC Market’ last March and got some funding to launch a pilot. The idea was to give a platform for students with businesses to showcase and sell their products and services on campus.
“We wanted to give (students) a free opportunity and a comfort level, with faculty guidance,” said Dowell.
The success of the pilot allowed her to set up two more events this year.
The first market this year, in collaboration with Connections, will be held on Nov 18. The second market, which will also be open to almuni, will be held Dec 8.
Dowell considers it important for students to get these entrepreneurial skills.
“Anybody who is going to succeed in the workforce and industry has to have a disruptive idea,” Dowell said. “No longer is photocopying an idea going to work.”
“That’s part of what scares this generation,” said Dowell. “There’s no such thing as job security or job loyalty. It’s on your terms.”
Brendan Wilson, a business management and entrepreneurship student, one of about 20 aspiring entrepreneurs showcasing their business on Nov. 18, is excited about the opportunity.
“Exposure and sales is the bread and butter to success,” Wilson said. “We jump at any chance to get our brand in front of an audience.”
Wilson’s company, Off the Dome, came to life out of a hat-making hobby that began drawing attention for its unique designs and quality. Each hat is cut and sewn by hand, which means the hats are limited to just a few per style.
Wilson said that they are at the stage where they are building and promoting. This event will give them a chance to make some fans on campus.
Students involved in either of the upcoming markets will be able to take part in the college’s first Wolf’s Den competition in February 2016, where they will be pitching their business concept to an industry panel. The winner, chosen by the panel, will get shelf space at the Connections bookstore, some entrepreneurial guidance from a key industry CEO, and some money
If February’s Wolf’s Den is a success, Dowell hopes to hold future competitions in the Student Commons theatre so that other students can see the entrepreneurial process in action.
“In the past we’ve never really been trained that way,” Dowell said. “Competition is fierce.”