For most students, winter break was a time to relax and recharge. But for some aspiring entrepreneurs, the week before classes resumed in January was a time to work in the salt mines. Well, they weren’t “salt mines” so much as interactive seminars, but we can’t let on just how much fun venture capitalism is. The students who were sleeping in at home might get jealous.
Now in its third year, Entrepreneurial Endeavors, part of Denison’s Burton D. Morgan Program in Liberal Arts and Entrepreneurship Education, enabled 20 students to explore the business world up close. From January 9 through 14, they toured business incubators (yes, that’s a real thing) and got frank advice from successful Denison alumni. They also went bowling, because even America’s future venture capitalists need to unwind.
The workshop’s director is David Przybyla, associate professor of psychology and director of Denison’s Organizational Studies Program, and Ismail Ghodbane ’11 was assistant to the director, having previously attended the workshop as a participant for two years.
“The program is about realizing that if you don’t find the job you want, you can create it,” said Stephanie Hunt-Theophilus, the Morgan Program’s coordinator. “It’s not just about recognizing opportunity, but seizing it.”
Miles Munz ’02, the co-founder of InterviewStream and one of Inc. magazine’s “Coolest Young Entrepreneurs” in 2007, was one of the alumni who attended the events. He explained that the education he received helped to shape his career path. InterviewStream is widely considered to be an “industry standard” in providing technological interview resources to universities and employers.
Bill Lennon ’87, president of LOKRING Technology LLC, also returned to his alma mater to meet with blossoming businesspeople. Lennon noted that his studies in sociology/anthropology helped him understand different cultures when expanding his company overseas.
All the visiting alumni agreed that a liberal arts education does more than just parlay into business acumen. It teaches the skills necessary to communicate and connect.
Students visited various pockets of the entrepreneurial infrastructure, including TechColumbus, which runs a technology incubator. They also attended seminars like “Understanding Cash Flow for Your Business.”
The journey of Megan Castranio ’09 is proof that this program creates results. She recently founded her own dancing conservatory and cites Entrepreneurial Endeavors for motivating her to get started.
Megan encourages anyone interested in starting a business to “follow your dream, even if it’s far-fetched in your eyes.”