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Business school debuts ‘Entrepreneurship Week’ for students to work on business skills

Courtesy Photo from the GW Innovation Center by Arielle Bader
Business school students participated in workshops and presentations hosted by the Innovation Center and others during the first-ever “Entrepreneurship Week.”

School of Business officials hosted an “Entrepreneurship Week” last week to help students build connections with professionals and learn about skills needed to succeed in entrepreneurship.

Business school leaders held a series of 28 presentations and workshops from Tuesday to Saturday, including lectures on “entrepreneurial ecosystems,” pitching competitions and networking events with professionals in the field. Officials said the inaugural week was designed to teach students interested in business careers how to “learn, network and share ideas.”

University spokesman Jason Shevrin said Ayman El Tarabishy, a teaching professor of management, drummed up the idea for the week to meet an interest among members of the business school.

“GW Entrepreneurship Week was created in response to a spike in interest from GW students, faculty and administrators in the area of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship,” Shevrin said in an email.

The week began with a workshop on drafting prototypes through a software program called Scrum, according to the event’s website. The next days included a pitching competition for students, a webinar on the first steps to take when starting out as an entrepreneur and a panel discussion on the future of entrepreneurship, the website states.

El Tarabishy said the week was planned to coincide with the GW October Entrepreneurship Conference, an annual event hosted Wednesday designed to educate entrepreneurs and members of small businesses on concepts in business.

“The GW October conference celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and with that the launch of GW Entrepreneurship Week to adapt to new trends and needs of new learners,” he said.

El Tarabishy, the executive director of the International Council for Small Business, said the business school partnered with his organization and the U.S. Small Business Administration – a federal agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses – to hold the events throughout the Foggy Bottom Campus and on Capitol Hill. Most of the events were held in Duques Hall.

He said that while officials provided the space on campus to hold the events, the week’s partners and sponsors covered all of the other expenses throughout the week.

Entrepreneurship experts said students likely found the week’s events useful because they could form connections with working professionals in business. They added that as students find success through programs like these in their careers, the business school’s reputation will also improve.

Steve Bradley, the chair of entrepreneurship and private enterprise at Baylor University, said students interested in careers in entrepreneurship need events like the week to secure a job because getting a job in the discipline is not as easy as in nonbusiness fields. He said entrepreneurs must have contacts in the industry because networking is the best way to be successful in business.

“Entrepreneurship doesn’t have the benefit of a job placement center where recruiters come on campus providing a clear path to employment,” he said in an email. “Therefore, increasing awareness of possibilities for entrepreneurship as a career option is useful for students as they consider their options.”

Kate Harmon, the director of cross-campus engagement at the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Oregon, said programs like the Entrepreneurship Week are a “valuable forum” for preparing students for successful business careers by demonstrating how their skills can be applied to their real interactions with professionals.

“Creativity is now viewed as one of the top-five job skills that leading employers hire for,” she said in an email. “Showing students the various ways that innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship can be applied to their own major or area of interest will better position students for career success later on in life.”

Amanda Hinojosa, an assistant professor of management at Howard University, said future iterations of the week could introduce more students not in the business school to skills like pitching business ideas and fields like entrepreneurship as a potential career option. She said officials could connect students with “like-minded people” who are currently working as entrepreneurs to get advice on how to be successful in the field.

She said hosting a full week of events makes the programming more accessible for students who cannot attend individual networking sessions.

“By having multiple opportunities to get involved, students can participate in events that don’t conflict with other university requirements,” Hinojosa said in an email. “This provides more students with an opportunity to get involved without jeopardizing their coursework and other university activities.”

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