This summer five Wofford College students — Eduardo Castillo, Meghan Curran, Kia Kaiser, Sergio Sum and Curneisha Williams — participated in a rigorous three-week Entrepreneurial Thinking Certificate Program at The Space at the Mungo Center designed to help students build a highly sought-after skill set that today’s employers want.
According to Tyler Senecal, director of entrepreneurial programs at the college, learning skills and competencies, such as design thinking, initiative and self-direction, empathy, adaptability, risk-taking and collaboration, while in college will accelerate the marketability of Wofford students.
“These skills are valuable because the entrepreneurial mindset can be applied to any industry,” says Curran, a French and art history major from Savannah, Ga., who also participates in the college’s Middle Eastern and North African Studies Program.
In addition to workshops, talent assessments, customer discovery trainings, presentations and lunch-and-learns with successful entrepreneurs, the group also experienced an immersion in entrepreneurial culture when they attended Montreal Canada’s global Startup Fest.
“The keynote speakers were experienced and interesting and they taught us that to be a truly innovative entrepreneur, you have to be up to date on research and technology,” says Sum, a computer science major and accounting minor from Saluda, S.C.
During the program in July, the group also applied their new knowledge to a shared interest in health and wellness.
“We identified issues that college students face and worked on how we could best improve the experience across the board,” says Kaiser, a Spanish and business major from Florence, S.C.
Castillo, a computer science and applied mathematics major from Maracaibo, Venezuela, says the group first had to "figure out things that make students stay motivated and combine that motivation with a mechanism for accountability.” The result was The Balance, a lifestyle program that helps students balance academics, physical fitness and mental wellbeing using both peer and digital accountability systems. Castillo was attracted to the Entrepreneurial Thinking program because he hopes to develop a startup in the tech industry and now he has a skill set on which to build to do that.
Although the summer experience is over, Williams says the group is committed to moving forward with their idea. “It’s become our baby,” says the Darlington, S.C., native. “Being immersed in the culture of entrepreneurship was amazing. It's encouraging to see people who understand the risks and the possibility of failure just keep trying."
According to Senecal, one of the core components of the entrepreneurial mindset is self-direction and the ability to navigate ambiguity. The staff in The Space intentionally designed the curriculum to allow students to take action on their own.
“They’ve been working in an ambiguous environment, and it’s incredible to see how far they’ve come," he says. "They created an idea and learned how to bring it to life and that, for me, is proof that it was successful.”
For more information about the Entrepreneurial Thinking Certificate Program as well as other services offered through The Space in the Mungo Center, visit www.wofford.edu/theSpace/.
By Kelsey Aylor ’18