Entrepreneurship, Outside the Box
“… perhaps more valuable to the overall job market is for students to develop a set of skills and competencies that apply when leading any new initiative.”
At Eastern Washington University’s Center for Entrepreneurship, Director Bruce Teague and colleagues are taking a broad, less prescriptive approach to entrepreneurship.
“We love the traditional story of a student having an idea in college, graduating, and then carrying it forward in a successful startup,” he says. “We see that; but what is more common, and perhaps more valuable to the overall job market, is for students to develop a set of skills and competencies that apply when leading any new initiative — within the companies where they work in their 20s and 30s, and through the companies they’ll launch later in their careers.”
Teague uses a lesser-known term to describe a difference maker within a larger organization: an intrapreneur. EWU is hard at work creating intrapreneurs by preparing students to solve problems and create new value propositions — even in their first professional jobs. The Center for Entrepreneurship is part of EWU’s growing presence in the Spokane U-District, where about a fifth of the nearby university’s 11,500 students take their classes.
Teague also sees the cross-cutting nature of entrepreneurial competencies. By integrating across EWU’s full academic program list, he’s seeing students who graduate with both subject-matter expertise and the ability to do something new with it.
“It would be arrogant for me to think I can prepare a student to be a music and media entrepreneur, for example,” he says. “So we set up our program to work alongside the student’s specific discipline to provide relevant business training. You can have the best idea in the world for your field, but if you don’t know how the money is going to work, or how to make the right kinds of mistakes and corrections in the early stages, it isn’t getting to market.”
Looking at the emerging job market in Spokane, Teague is encouraged by the entrepreneurship he sees blossoming, and the ways EWU grads can participate as both workers and leaders, while also enjoying the city’s emerging feel.
“We’re seeing highly scalable technology startups and new businesses related to population health and other technical fields," he says. "But we're also seeing art-reprenuers and culture makers and a healthy small business community offering better neighborhoods and experiences than just a few years ago.”
In-classroom photos provided by Eastern Washington University