By Courtney Wilson
During my time as an Entrepreneur in Residence, what surprises and encourages me the most is the sheer depth and breadth of opportunities available to students, allowing them to explore their inner social entrepreneur. Regardless of where a student is in their entrepreneurial journey, or what they hope to do with their idea, Wheaton offers something for them. Ranging from business bootcamps, funded internships, 3D printing labs, and everything in between, here is a list of all the opportunities students can take advantage of to ensure they graduate from Wheaton with the confidence and competence to launch their own social impact venture.
The first stop for any aspiring or current entrepreneur should be the WiN Hub. Located on the ground floor of the Doll’s House, the WiN Hub is a dedicated space for students to work on their businesses and mingle with other student entrepreneurs. With 24/7 access, printing capabilities, private meeting rooms, personal storage lockers and floor-to-ceiling whiteboard walls, this space allows students to work on their businesses as well as connect and collaborate with fellow student entrepreneurs.
Business Coaching and Mentorship
Held in the WiN Lab, private coaching and mentorship sessions are available to students each week. They can sign up for 15 to 60 minute time slots and meet one-on-one with a staff member to discuss business problems, create road maps, or talk through some of the more subtle struggles that come with starting your own business.
Scheduled one week in January and one week in May, this in-depth program is a 2-week entrepreneurship bootcamp. In the first week, students create their business idea, take it through the business process from ideation to creation, and then pitch their business to a roomful of mock investors. Throughout the rest of the semester, the students work with Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network mentors and focus on the operational aspects of getting a business off the ground. The process culminates in May with a focus on sales, marketing, and how to communicate business value to various stakeholders.
Our more product-minded students can go to the Old Science Center and check out the college’s makerspaces where they can experiment with the state-of-the-art 3D printers. With a staff member always on-site to provide guidance and instructions, students can experiment and make prototypes quickly and easily.
MassChallenge is the world’s largest social impact accelerator and widely considered one of the best in its class. Known for diversity and inclusion, MC companies are 40 percent woman-founded and range from companies creating fashionable apparel for chronic illness patients, to my own company called, DropZone for Veterans. Students spend 10 weeks supporting the companies, meeting entrepreneurs and getting to work with those companies.
This $3,000 stipend allows students to earn income while interning for a non-profit that may not have the funds to pay them.
Wheaton College offers several opportunities for students to explore social entrepreneurship, learn the ins and outs of launching a business, try their hand at product design, or be part of the audience during student business pitches. We encourage all students to explore these areas which can start with something as simple as a conversation with fellow student entrepreneurs.