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CEWIL Resource Hub: Entrepreneurship at Sheridan College
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Students participate in a seven-week co-op preparatory course that includes cover letter writing, self-promotion, interviews, and career exploration. Once accepted into the Co-op on the EDGE program, students participate in a two-week boot camp on entrepreneurship. Students receive employment preparation training from co-op and self-employment preparation training from EDGE.
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Key success factors
The hope is that students not only learn about entrepreneurship, but they also learn through entrepreneurship. Even if students decide to go the route of employment after completion of the program, they have learned and developed essential skills and competencies that will contribute to their success. Skill development and growth of leadership competencies is the most important goal of the program, not necessarily the development of a successful business venture.
Prior to entering the program, some students have already started their business or social enterprise. In those cases, EDGE provides institutional support to learning activities students are already engaging in as founders. It also provides the time required for students to continue to develop their venture.
To set program expectations, the program begins with a mandatory two-week bootcamp. The goal of the bootcamp is to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset from the outset by developing skills and knowledge students need for a more self-directed approach, which may differ from their classroom learning. For example, students learn to research their ideas to ensure that people will buy their product or service. The bootcamp has been a very successful element of the program.
The mandate of the EDGE hub extends into the community, to help community members as well as Sheridan students with their start-ups.
Sheridan’s EDGE and co-op teams aim to expand interdisciplinary teams in future iterations of the program to better support the need for diverse skill sets within a start-up, e.g. teaming up a game designer with a marketer and with an accountant.
At the end of the program, EDGE runs a pitch day for students to share their ventures, and they receive feedback from a panel of judges. Students learn and grow from the feedback received.
The scalability of the program is a challenge. More mentors will be needed as the program grows. Mentors include both business and social enterprise mentors,as well as discipline-specific mentors. For example, students in the gaming industry who are learning how to develop their business plan might need more tailored guidance from someone in their field.
The program is predominantly an unpaid opportunity for students, though several awards are given in the $1000 range. To improve access to this option, Sheridan would like to explore increased financial awards or supports for students in the program.
Choose your own venture
Year program was established: 2018
Number of students per year: ~25
Number of employers/partners per year: Regional innovation centres
Programs/academic disciplines participating: Any student enrolled in one of Sheridan's 50+ programs that offer co-op or internship.
Participating students are generally enrolled in art, business, or computing programs.
Duration of experience: Usually full-time for 4 months; 8 months is possible