Fordham is starting an entrepreneurship program for its undergrad students and I'll be teaching a course entitled "Innovation and the Entrepreneurial Mindset". Yesterday, those of us who teach in the program were talking with the dean about whether or not the program should be a major or concentration, a specialization, a minor, etc.
The difference is whether or not it should be something focused on by itself or in conjunction with other majors, like finance or marketing.
I've always leaned towards identifying yourself with some fundamental business skills set, like finance, accounting, marketing, info systems, etc., and then layering on specializations, like entrepreneurship or international study. To me, international marketing, marketing in mainstream media or advertising, or marketing for a startup are three pretty different types of marketing--all of whom require the fundamental principals of marketing, but differ in their application. Now, whether those are specializations, double majors, etc. I don't think it matters.
Also, you have to think about fallback, too. What if someone does the entrepreneurship program, but can't nail that business idea or decides that getting some industry experience and connection in the area of their startup idea would be valuable--working for DKNY before you decide to start your own fashion label, perhaps. Would anyone want to hire you if you were only an entrepreneurship major and didn't at least have marketing, finance, or accounting?
There are business programs that have full majors in entrepreneurship, like Babson. In fact, I met a Babson entreprenuership major last night at the CooBric opening and he thought it was a valuable experience.
Of course, this question of where it fits in a program presupposes that you can even teach entrepreneurship in the first place... and to be honest, while I might not have thought so a few years ago, the more I get involved in this program, the more I think you can. It's not so much teaching as it is introduction. When I grew up, starting your own business was seen as kind of a flakey thing to do. My mom worked in a school and my dad was a fireman before he went into accounting (yeah, I never understood that transition either). I never knew about the startup world, and when I learned about it, I thought it was just all about having the big idea one day--like a lightning strike.
In my own experience, I think what is more likely to happen is that the big idea is slow cooked after being involved in a space or a line of thinking over time. I got the idea for Path 101 after seven years of various mentoring and intership programs. I wasn't trying to be an entrepreneur and the best ideas probably come when you're not trying to be one.
So, what am I going to teach? I'm going to teach immersion and opportunity identification. I'm going to teach these kids what it means to actually get waist deep in something like I am... that it's not just getting a job... it's about real active participation in the industry, in the community, whatever it is. And, once you're in the thick of it, learning how to identify power structures, pain points, etc.
These are lessons that are useful whether or not they'll ever become entrepreneurs, because it's not enough to just clock in and clock out anymore. There are so many more opportunities to really get active in a space and the people that take advantage of those opportunities are often the ones that wind up innovating and changing those spaces.
What do you think? What does an entrepreneurial education look like to you? How does it fit with other skills and courses? Did anyone take any entrepreneurship courses in school?