Entrepreneurship: The Self-Sufficient Major
By: Alejandra Serna
In recent years the nation’s economy has been on a downward spiral that still plagues us today. As a result, the job market has become frightfully unstable. While the unemployed struggle unsuccessfully to find work, their numbers increase as more and more people are laid off.
In the face of this turmoil, self-employment has developed an appeal for college students. Colleges and universities have responded accordingly by offering entrepreneurship courses and even degree programs. For example, the University of Miami offers an entrepreneurship major under its pre-professional choices and the F.I.U provides an entrepreneurship course under its School of Business.
Since the 1980s, entrepreneurship education has climbed to include 550 colleges offering entrepreneurship-related courses and 49 offering degree programs. This trend is not only spreading among the universities, but also inside them, as the amount of participating students continues to grow. This turn out is expected to produce 600,000-800,000 new businesses annually, as estimated by the National Commission on Entrepreneurship.
Each program is unique to the university, yet they all tend to follow a common pattern. The corresponding course load for this track includes classes in finance, marketing and new ventures. As sophomores, the students start their own companies with seed money provided by the school. Although professors approve company ideas on the likelihood of their success, grades are based on the quality of work demonstrated (business plans and team interaction).
After a predetermined time, the businesses are liquefied and profits – ranging from $800 to $2500 – are donated to charity to instruct students on the importance of corporate philanthropy. Around their senior year, students are taught to construct a comprehensive business plan for a personal start-up company or intern with a local entrepreneurial firm, and complete a consulting project. Some schools even provide mentoring programs where students are partnered with local business owners for more hands-on experience.
Currently, entrepreneurship education can be found outside the business major. It also exists in engineering, life sciences and liberal arts. Select Ivy League schools, such as Columbia and Harvard, are beginning to encourage law school students to look into entrepreneurship to start their own firms upon graduation.
After all, this is the main advantage of the entrepreneurship track – self-reliance. Natasha Steinel, currently a junior at FIU’s School of Business, proudly claims, “Jumping into entrepreneurship has been the best choice I’ve made so far. It has given me the skills to start my own business and become self-sufficient upon graduation.”
No matter what the economic situation, these individuals have unlimited job security, being their own employers. Since the career choices that stem from entrepreneurship are so vast, some choose to work for other companies. Nonetheless, the key word here is “choice.” The management and development skills acquired through this training provide students with endless possibilities. As Erik Pages, policy director of the National Commission on Entrepreneurship, explains, “This is all about having control of your life.”