AIEmail

SPOTLIGHT

The Entrepreneurial Mindset


If you were hiring recent college grads to work for your business, what qualities or qualifications would you prioritize? Relevant knowledge seems like a slam dunk. That is, would-be engineers need to have done well in their engineering courses. Internships seem desirable, too. After all, for many recent graduates, an internship represents one of the best chances to get “real-world experience.” Solid communication skills are probably high on the list, yes? Yes, they are. Anything else?

While a recent U.S. News and World Report article (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/alpha-consumer/2012/05/15/7-things-employers-want-from-new-grads) reported that while employers continue to care about the old favorites on the list of desirable qualities, about 1 in 3 listed another important item you may not have thought of before: entrepreneurial experience.

It makes intuitive sense that employers hiring for entry-level positions would be impressed by entrepreneurial experience. After all, entrepreneurs are characterized by being multi-skilled, typically being involved in marketing, sales, and other aspects of a business. Entrepreneurs aren’t just asking, “What am I supposed to do?” but are often focusing on the “why,” taking a big-picture perspective on how to best serve customers.

Whether it’s a lemonade stand, paper route, lawn care services, house painting, bake sales — all teach hard business skills like marketing, sales, pricing, managing a P&L, accounting, production and customer service.

A recent Forbes article (http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2012/05/14/the-student-employment-gap-for-the-class-of-2012/) quoted Jennifer Floren, author of The Innovation Generation as saying, “For entry-level talent that can demonstrate a go-getter attitude, strong communication skills, independent thinking and teamwork, there are many exciting options out there.” That is, the qualities employers associate with entrepreneurs may represent a mindset that could be directed to many kinds of pursuits, from school clubs, to sports teams, to student government projects.

How can you acquire and demonstrate an entrepreneurial mindset? Along with relevant coursework, a good attitude, solid communication skills and the other perennial employer favorites, it just might help you launch a career.

In next week’s AIEmail, we’ll look at a college organization that is seeking to foster this very attitude among college students at a number of universities around the country.