When did you start seeing the shift towards using entrepreneurship as a force for good and what do you think some factors are for that generational shift?
Over the past decade, a lot of people have pointed to the Recession being a little bit of a wake-up call with the current students in terms of seeing their parents going through a challenging time period or being dependent on employers. And I think a lot of students coming through now don’t want to have that dependence. They want to create their own opportunities. It might be less of a financial attraction than it historically was in entrepreneurship. Now it’s more about the autonomy of getting to choose what time of projects they are working on and what type of people they are working with and type of hours they are working, or at least time of day they are working, to accommodate their schedules a little bit more. Even though the hours might be longer, they can have more flexibility in their own personal life.
We’ve tried to create programs based on what we hear the students want and need and in 2011 we created a fellowship program for MBA students to help guide them through a process of a problem they want to get involved in surrounding job training, affordable housing, affordable healthy foods and things like that. That’s become a relatively large program and I know students that have come here specifically for that.
What are some of the touchpoints or highlights full-time MBA students have during their time at Carlson to really take advantage of the entrepreneurial offerings?
Some of our experiential offerings allow them to both work on their own ideas while also learn about specific industries they might be interested in with applied projects with companies in those industries. Often times, students will go through multiple applied classes working on and developing their own ideas.
We have around 45,000 Carlson alums right here in the Twin Cities and being able to tap into that network and get one-on-one and face-to-face interactions with them is valuable as students proceed through the classes.
As I mentioned we also have the Minnesota Cup and an extension of that is a program we launched with General Mills called Grow North in the food and ag sector that helps connect these students and their ideas with additional resources in terms of business partners or access to people or funding. There’s also access to funding as a number of classes here provide small seed funds to the students. A number of our MBA students have won different divisions of the Minnesota Cup and gain seed capital through that.
What are some things that you think set Minnesota apart from other business schools both regionally and nationally?
The full-time program here is relatively small. And I think the students are able to really tailor their program and involvement in some of the yearlong enterprise programs that serve as a homeroom for the students in terms of working on and developing their ideas. We’ve also got opportunities for students to connect with projects, get fellowships to work on projects where they’re helping to commercialize university technologies. We’ve got opportunities for students that intern with local angel investment networks that are hosted here. The ability for students to really build an amazing network while they’re in school is hard to replicate anywhere.
Best In Class: The Top B-Schools For Entrepreneurship