Student Entrepreneurship: Turning Great Ideas into Life-Changing Career Prospects

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Successful businesses begin with a few very important components: the birth of great ideas, the acquirement of monetary and physical resources necessary to convert those ideas into tangible plans, and an insightful and resourceful team to collaborate with over the course of the development process. However, as with any professional endeavour, late nights, going back to the drawing board to further develop rough ideas, and numerous failures, are part and parcel of the entrepreneurial process that many individuals embrace as they embark upon their path towards success. With the onset of COVID-19, independent businesses have taken Canada by storm, with small businesses in particular comprising 98.1% of all employer businesses across the nation in 2021, according to data collected by Statistics Canada in the fourth quarter of that year.

Work-Integrated Learning (or WIL as it is commonly referred to), has emerged as an educational phenomenon within the post-secondary sector in recent years, and continues to evolve on a continuous basis. Many academic programs now provide practical experience opportunities to its students to immerse themselves within the employment sector, in an attempt to allow them to gain invaluable workplace experience and a well-rounded skillset, bridging the gap between the theoretical knowledge they have gained from their programs, with practical applications of their learning, on-site.

Student-driven Business endeavours such as start-ups, have also been on the rise within the average educational space, and allows students to develop effective teamwork, communication, persuasion, financial management, proactivity, and risk management skills, to name a few.

Here at Mohawk, a few on and off-campus amenities are available to students who are interested in exploring Entrepreneurship and its numerous advantages as current students.

SURGE is Mohawk’s Entrepreneurship Resource Space and provides free, one-on-one mentoring services to students and alumni who are already entrepreneurs or aspire to become entrepreneurs in the future. It is funded by the Ontario Centres of Excellence, is a member of ONE (the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs) and is also partnered with Innovation Factory. SURGE is located at the Fennell Campus, in Room i208.

Many of Mohawk’s academic programs are also administered to students in affiliation with McMaster University. The Forge is the University’s business incubator and aims to serve novel and scalable start-ups in the Hamilton, Greater Toronto and Niagara Regions. The Forge works hands-on with entrepreneurs to develop their initial business ideas from the initial ideation and validation phases to visible growth. To date, a total of 269 companies have been launched through The Forge Business Incubator program, and have collectively raised +$42million, selling products in over 50 countries.

Within the Greater Hamilton Area, Invest in Hamilton provides important financial incentives, welcomes international investors and students through its provision of business-related programming to help the city’s small business community grow and thrive. Hamilton exceeded $2 billion in funding research and organizational based product development and innovation incentives as of last year, and continuously works towards lowering the costs of commercialization and product development and market launches.

Entrepreneurship and the pursuit of experiential education allows students to make mistakes, utilizing every opportunity as a catalyst for personal growth, and the continuous development of business acumen. In addition to the development of increased confidence, their soft skills are also honed as they prepare to enter the workforce as focused and driven employees, while also allowing for the further cultivation of their network skills to ensue.

Business acumen and external pursuits should not only be limited for exploration by business students or professionals alone – you never know where a great idea may take you, so do not let inexperience or a lack of business curriculum stop you from getting out there and giving a start-up your best shot!

Written by Kharishma Chaund