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Entrepreneurship expands

Students from across academic disciplines learn to launch a business

The stacks of Entrepreneur magazines outside Deb Bishop’s office in Aliber Hall are one small sign of Drake’s commitment to inspiring future business owners as well as leaders. The piles of creative class projects illustrating what it means to be an entrepreneur in Tom Smartwood’s office are another.

Project depicting qualities of entrepreneurs by Leslie Sabick

With the technology at their fingertips, today’s students are preparing to enter the workforce with a new mindset. They’re coming of age at a time when headlines are full of twentysomethings steering billion dollar startups, and they’re feeling inspired. The Drake College of Business and Public Administration continues to add opportunities to its curriculum that buttress students’ confidence with the practical skills they’ll need to turn big ideas into careers.

“I think this generation is more willing to take risk,” says Bishop, associate professor of practice in management and international business. “They have more of a desire to be their own boss. They’re seeing that company loyalty is not necessarily guaranteed and they’re seeing so much success with other young entrepreneurs — particularly in the Internet realm. It’s kind of an ‘I can do it, too’ attitude of confidence.”

Swartwood, assistant director of the Buchanan Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, feels Drake’s interdisciplinary approach shows the school has a strong commitment to entrepreneurship.

“We’re working off a definition that is about people who are collaborative and employ innovation to provide value to others,” he says.

This fall marks the second year the college will offer an entrepreneurship minor that is open to students from across disciplines and majors, and students are clamoring for the classes. Last spring, Drake added a second section to Entrepreneurship 001, a one-credit course profiling entrepreneurs, to meet demand and keep class sizes down.

“The nice thing about having an entrepreneurship major and minor is that we can help students develop a skill set that can help them avoid pitfalls and be competitive,” Bishop says.

Students interested in business innovation and creativity are also taking entrepreneurship courses with the hope of utilizing the skills in a corporate setting, too.

“Corporations have more interest in young people who are ‘intrapreneurial’ and willing to come into a leadership and ownership of whatever their job is,” Bishop says. “It’s bringing your own strategy and mission to a position and asking how you’re going to improve and make your area the best it can be. “

Classes introduce students to both locally and internationally based entrepreneurs, build the quantitative skills they need and encourage students to “make meaning” by creating companies that fulfill a customer need.

Swartwood’s office is piled high with examples of student work that translates class lessons into board games, posters and three-dimensional models.

“It’s fun,” Swartwood says. “There are no boring entrepreneurs.”

Read about recent Drake alumni who have taken ambitious leaps to start a business.

Check out the Entrepreneurship at Drake University Facebook page