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Generation Y

The Perfect Entrepreneurial Storm

A few weeks back, I was a mentor for the Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Program in Minneapolis. I was truly inspired by how business-saavy these young girls were, and being in the generational line of work, I know that today's students and young adults claim the largest volume of start-ups in America.

THE PERFECT ENTREPRENEURIAL STORM

A few weeks back, I was a mentor for the Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Program in Minneapolis. I was truly inspired by how business-saavy these young girls were, and being in the generational line of work, I know that today's students and young adults claim the largest volume of start-ups in America.

This business-savvy generation presents great opportunity for some, and great challenges for others. In either case, this generation presents significant change for our business climate as we know it.

An April 27, 2009 article in BusinessWeek refers to this change as the "perfect entrepreneurial storm". Just as the famously independent Generation Y enters business school, the world economy goes to hell in a handbasket.The former blue chips of Wall Street can no longer offer long-term job security and generous end-of-year bonuses, giving this new generation of MBA graduates the impetus to pursue their own business ownership dreams.

If business schools are smart, they will rush to embrace this entrepreneurial generation and give them the tools they need to realize those dreams. The time is certainly ripe. Most colleges had already observed declines in enrollment in nearly every major–with the exception of business.

What can business schools do to unleash this generation's inner entrepreneur? The BusinessWeek article advises them to take a cue from the Tuck School of Business (Tuck MBA Profile) at Dartmouth, which is hosting a new business plan competition, with a $50,000 prize, in an effort to inspire new entrepreneurial ideas and create jobs on both a local and national level.

Or they can follow the lead of schools like the Haas School of Business (Haas MBA Profile) at the University of California, Berkeley. The school's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation provides students with the expertise to pursue their ideas, and improve their negotiating hand with venture capitalists. It's a great example of how to encourage innovation in both new and established companies, and we need more such schools offering innovative solutions to the entrepreneurial challenge.With their accumulated store of knowledge about how to launch a business, and proximity to the profitable ideas in technology and the sciences, business schools should be the ideal platform to nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs. And this generation—highly social, confident, and networked—seems ready for the challenge.I would add that high schools could take a lesson from Thomas Alva Edison High School's Business Entrepreneurship Program. The Business Enterprise program utilizes work-readiness training, job shadowing, e-mentoring, college site visits, guest speakers, and entrepreneur and high tech clubs to give students a foundation of skills to build upon and transition from a high school setting to post-secondary two-year and four-year educational programs.If more schools provided business training at an earlier age, perhaps America's workforce would be successful at bridging the talent gap and not be in danger of lagging behind Europe, India, Australia, and other countries already preparing their next generation workforce.Certainly the world needs this new generation of business-savvy entrepreneurs—now more than ever before. If the economy is going to recover, their optimism and their new ideas will be a big part of the reason.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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