10 ways to improve student entrepreneurship

Hands-on experience trumps theoretical lessons

Universities can better prepare their business students for the corporate world by blending practical experience and operational challenges into standard economic and business lessons, experts say.

Young professionals rely too much on theoretical education out-of-sync with companies' daily needs, writes Emad Rahim, Oklahoma State University entrepreneur-in-residence and Rutgers University visiting scholar, in a recent Forbes article. 

Rahim interviewed researchers, business owners, professors, startup founders, and social entrepreneurs to discover 10 ways universities can improve their students' entrepreneurship skills.

Promoting entrepreneurship among students and faculty

  1. Teach case studies. Expose students to executives' thought processes when analyzing situations to provide real-life business solutions and mistakes.

  2. Relate theoretical content to real business challenges. Link ideas to concrete examples, such as discussing inflation and quantitative easing in relation to the 2008 mortgage crisis.

  3. Host entrepreneurship contests. Pit student groups against each other in a "Shark Tank"-like competition to foster hands-on learning opportunities.

  4. Create an entrepreneurship-in-residence program. Leverage relationships with businesses to regularly send students as interns, helping them network. 
  5. How to develop for-credit internship programs


  6. Invite professionals to teach. Ask a business executive to lead a class or an entire course, to make the content more engaging and add practical insight.

  7. Provide consulting to non-profits and small businesses. Guide students through consulting for small businesses and non-profits to ensure they learn practical solutions and how to handle client interactions. (Universities can charge for the service for extra cash flow.)

  8. Aid student business launches. Work in tandem with students to obtain financing, research the market, and build practical businesses. The Small Business Administration offers many resources. 
  9. How to develop for-credit internship programs


  10. Stress technology's importance. Explain strategic ways businesses use technology to communicate, market, innovate, and ultimately, earn a profit. This does not necessarily mean filling curricula with coding and computer programming.

  11. Encourage international exchange programs. Expose students to different cultures and professional backgrounds by allowing them to finish their degree at an international university.

  12. Promote student-in-residence programs. Offer a program that allows students to intern part-time and complete graded coursework (Rahim, Forbes, 9/10). 

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