Iowa State University’s hosting open house information sessions at its new “Entrepreneurship and Innovation Learning Community” now through the middle of next week. Jodi Eyles is assistant director at the Pappajohn Center for Entreneurship at Iowa State. The “learning community” just launched last fall, with half wing of a new dorm and students who major in fields from engineering to political science to liberal arts. She says they all have an interest in someday starting a company or being involved in a small business. Learning to start out in business on your own can include classroom work but also mentoring with members of the business community, she explains, or working within a business. Eyles says whether they’re going into a professional major or just have a curiosity about the skill sets required to set up a new business, students soon find there’s something of value in the field. By learning about life in a startup company and also interacting with students from many different majors, she says they’ll leave college with a broad perspective on how everything operates within a business and skills valuable whether they go into a corporation or start their own company. Eyles explains that entrepreneurship is more than just starting your own business. She says it’s learning to recognize an opportunity, to “think outside the box,” and generally just being innovative in how you approach problem-solving. Eyles says she’s found even students interviewing for jobs with corporate giants like General Mills find their prospective employers impressed with the decision-making and analytical skills they’ve learned in the entrepreurship program. Students can take a course or two that will apply to their major, or they can minor in entrepreneurship at the new center funded by Iowa venture capital millionaire John Pappajohn. Two “core courses” are offered within the College of Business, giving aspects of being an entrepreneur, starting a business and planning — and then electives may be any of 100 courses at ISU, to teach students generally about business and specifically about business within their major. She says it depends on their focus area, as a horticulture student might learn what they’d need to know to start up a nursery. The University of Iowa has a Pappajohn business center, and Eyles says it’s a trend in the academic world to set up business centers, though the learning community is an even newer way to try and enrich students’ experience.
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