To some, entrepreneurship creates the freedom to pursue their dreams, untethered from the constructs thrust upon them by a society that often tells them “no.” For others, entrepreneurship provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes and grow through triumphs in a fashion that is simply impossible to experience any other way. For all of us, though, it’s hard to deny that entrepreneurship is unwavering in its impact on our day-to-day routine, casting a spotlight on innovation, value creation, and positive change that reverberates across generations.
Concordia College recognizes the profound impact developing an entrepreneurial mindset can have on the future endeavors of its students. In response, Concordia’s Offutt School of Business (OSB) has developed and implemented the Entrepreneurial Mindset Undergraduate Academic Certificate and an entrepreneurship minor – both of which are open to students of all disciplines on any career path.
Within the nine-credit requirement of the certificate is coursework designed to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. The curriculum, effectuated by the OSB, was developed with the goal of making a lasting, positive impact on the lives of students as they venture out of the forgiving sanctuary of Concordia’s classrooms to navigate a world of uncertainty.
Max Mona ’21, a finance major from Annapolis, Md., has firsthand experience studying entrepreneurship in the OSB. He took the introductory Entrepreneurial Mindset course when it launched in Fall 2019.
“I was very happy this course was available as entrepreneurship is essential no matter what you study at Concordia,” he says. “Having students from different disciplines helped strengthen our entrepreneurial teams by recognizing the skills and abilities each team member brought to the group.”
This recognition of how each team member can be valued in ways respective to their strengths is precisely what the OSB’s entrepreneurship curriculum was designed to foster in students like Mona.
As an undergraduate looking to enter the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive business world following graduation, Mona recognizes the value of entrepreneurial skills for his life going forward.
“I learned that entrepreneurship applies to any discipline, any workplace, and any position,” he says. “The skills I gained from creative problem solving, collaborating in teams, and adapting to change will be key to my future success.”
Mona is not alone in his sentiments. Madi Hagen ’22 has taken full advantage of opportunities for entrepreneurial excellence during her educational experience. Originally from Detroit Lakes, Minn., Hagen is a business management major with a minor in interfaith studies. She is also taking coursework for the Entrepreneurial Mindset Certificate.
“After a couple of weeks in Entrepreneurial Mindset I (the first requirement toward the four-course certificate), I realized this was something that would change my life and not just my career,” she says. “It shapes your mindset. Every situation that you go through in your day-to-day life could be different if you look at it through an entrepreneurial lens.”
Life changing. As an academic institution dedicated to challenging students to become responsibly engaged in the world, can a more positive outcome be achieved? With synonyms such as powerful, transformative, and metamorphic, establishing a life-changing college course is no small feat. For the OSB faculty, creating the opportunity for students to develop skills such as self-awareness, creative problem solving, resilience, and self-efficacy is central to the cutting-edge entrepreneurship curriculum.
“I have developed the skill of taking the first step. In the entrepreneurial mindset courses, they talk a lot about the importance of taking the first step toward what you want,” she says. “That step isn’t going to be easy, but if you don’t take it you will never get to where you want to be.”
During her nearly four years at Concordia, Júlia Ozaniaková ’21 has become a familiar face in the OSB and the Fargo-Moorhead business community. Originally from Turany, Slovakia, Ozaniaková is a business economics and computer science (data analytics) double major with a minor in international affairs. She has fully immersed herself in the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by participating in 1 Million Cups Fargo and other Emerging Prairie programs. Among her many campus involvements is serving as the vice president of public relations for the Entrepreneurial Club.
“Entrepreneurship has improved my leadership, collaboration, and interpersonal skills. Being involved in jump-starting the Entrepreneurship Club gave me the opportunity to learn more about strategy building and goal setting, while also listening to the needs and wants of the students who we hope to serve and create opportunities for,” she says. “I know that the experience of creating something new while collaborating with others has improved my confidence as a professional and will greatly benefit me in my future.”
The curriculum’s interdisciplinary approach is key to empowering Concordia students to be the leaders of tomorrow as they graduate and enter the workforce. As students like Mona, Hagen, and Ozaniaková enter Concordia’s classrooms with wide eyes and open ears, it is the college’s responsibility to provide integrative opportunities for them to learn and grow. The Entrepreneurial Mindset Undergraduate Academic Certificate is one such opportunity. Going forward, this program will continue to serve as a resource for developing an entrepreneurial mindset and not only encourage students to seize each day but to influence the affairs of the world.
Originally published in the 2021 Concordia Magazine