News: The Rise of the Student Entrepreneur

Is getting a good degree enough to get you the perfect job?

The answer to this question in 2015 is perhaps no. Graduates hunting for a job in many of the leading industries are required to have not just four years of higher education under their belt. Often, work experience in some form is a necessity for graduate positions in leading companies. Internships are almost a pre-requisite starting point for many young students in business, tech, finance, media and many other fields.

But how else are students setting themselves apart from the crowd? As more take on work experience, a few bright young UK university students are carving a different path for themselves.

Enter the student entrepreneur. Ambitious, creative, and without a doubt extremely hard working, these young men and women juggle studies with start-ups, and many of them are successful in doing so.

Chief executive of the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) chief executive, Jonny Luk, told the BBC that there are two reasons for this rise.

“Firstly, technology means people can create digital businesses more easily, and we live in an interconnected world where getting advice is easier. Secondly, since the financial crisis the attractiveness of joining a big corporation has been dulled by the excitement of being in a start-up. People want to be an entrepreneur.”

According to Santander bank, almost a quarter of UK students are either starting their first business while still studying at university. The BBC recently profiled 3 new businesses started by students still in university. Their workdays are long, they sacrifice much of the social aspects in order to dedicate enough time to both their degree and their companies.

Charleh Dickson, a 20-year-old Sheffield Hallam University student, impressively juggles her degree with a 50-hour work week for her business Designed2Eat. She also is active in student societies and works part-time at a PR firm. How does she manage to do it all? Routine is key for Dickson, and she keeps a tight schedule during the week. But she admits that her life as a young entrepreneur is by no means smooth sailing.

Charleh Dickson of Designed2Eat

“I have crazy days running around like a headless chicken getting everything done in time, but you just deal with it,” she told the BBC.

In fact, a degree and a new business can actually work together rather than at odds with one another. Campuses cant be the perfect home for an innovative new business idea.

Graham Cooper writing for The Telegraph, commented that his university’s environment and facilities made it the perfect germinating point for his business Minimal Media. Cooper recounts that himself and his business partners were originally team members for university assessment. After meeting and recognising their chemistry collaborating together, they then took advantage of the many other services their university had to offer.

Events dedicated to future planning, careers services, work-experience, internships, free courses on business management – Cooper and his team utilised every opportunity they could.  What’s more interesting is that Cooper was not studying business, but rather resourcefully learning about it practically through any other means.

“The key lesson we took from our journey from higher education to business was that it’s not just about what university can offer you, it’s about what you glean from the experience,” he notes in his article. “While university can offer you access to great resources that can assist with an initial start-up, they won’t come and find you – being proactive and making yourself aware of opportunities is key.”

Being a student entrepreneur is no small feat. Time, effort, dedication, and a great idea are all crucial to this new growing trend. Yet it can be an extremely valuable venture to coincide with a student’s studies. Not only does it result in a graduate that is business minded with a practical understanding of all the heights and pitfalls of new businesses. Being a young entrepreneur also moulds a student into a independent, focused and determined young worker.



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