Fordham Notes: Fordham's Janssen on Educating Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fordham's Janssen on Educating Entrepreneurs

Christine Janssen at a Fordham Foundry event.

Entrepreneurship. These days, it seems everyone – particularly young people – are clamoring for a shot at founding the next great startup, and being their own boss.

But what’s the best way to achieve entrepreneur status?

Recently, an article in the Wall Street Journal touched on the importance of networking and support systems while downplaying the importance of choice of school and grades in college.

This piqued the interest of Christine Janssen, Ph.D., director of the Entrepreneurial Program at the Gabelli School of Business and co-director of both Fordham's Center for Entrepreneurship and the Fordham Foundry, a small-business incubator in the Bronx launched in 2012 in partnership with New York City government agencies. 
So, in a guest OpEd with VC-List, a blog for the venture capital industry, Janssen dishes out her own advice:

“Where you go to school is important. Aspiring entrepreneurs should choose a school that possesses more than a longstanding reputation and brand recognition. What can really differentiate one’s experience and outcome are resources, mentors, and access to non-traditional learning experiences that the school can offer,” Janssen wrote in her piece, “How Should College Play a Role in Educating Future Entrepreneurs?

Janssen also doled out advice for how best to educate for budding and aspiring entrepreneurs:
  • Entrepreneurs evolve from any given major, but I would also propose that students should be able to customize their educational experience. While there are certain subjects that all aspiring entrepreneurs should master (accounting, finance, communications, management and just about anything related to technology), college can no longer be a one-size-fits-all proposition.
  • Do not ignore grades. A student’s grades don’t necessarily reflect what they have learned or if what was learned is relevant, but a healthy transcript still is a reflection of a student’s effort and commitment. I would certainly select someone with a 4.0 grade point average over a 2.8 GPA any day to join my startup.
  • Network. In every core class in my entrepreneurship program, students are REQUIRED to attend professional networking events – and they may not be university-sponsored events or events on campus. That’s too easy. My job is to expose them to the real world and begin building a toolbox of skills and resources so when they complete my program they will have dozens of relationships (and potential mentors) established to help them build out their careers – whether launching a new venture, working at a startup, or being the innovation catalyst at a larger organization. Pushing students out of their comfort zones is a one small step for students, one giant leap for new business creation. 
Read the rest of her piece at VC-List, and watch this video about a couple of young students--two brothers--who created and ran a boot camp for young teen entrepreneurs, with help from the Fordham Foundry.

--Gina Vergel

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