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Communications and Marketing

New Minor: ‘Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship & Innovation’ gets the Go-Ahead

Next fall, Lake Forest College will become one of the first schools in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest to offer entrepreneurship as a minor, meeting a high demand among students and employers alike.

The entrepreneurship and innovation minor was officially approved in December. Associate Professor and Chair of Economics and Business Robert Lemke, a chief proponent of the interdisciplinary area of study and co-author of the proposal, anticipates that as many as ten members of the Class of 2015 will graduate with the minor in its first year. One of them is Stefan Zaharinov ’15, a biology major and business minor.

“I have a passion for science, but I believe that I would be a well rounded candidate for any healthcare company if I have a degree in biology as well as minors in business and entrepreneurship and innovation,” he said.

The study of entrepreneurship is a hot ticket because one in three employers seek college graduates with entrepreneurial experience as potential hires, according to a May 2012 article in U.S. News & World Report. That’s because employers benefit from qualities of an entrepreneurial mindset, such as risk taking.

“Having the know-how to start their own business is only the beginning,” said Darlene Jaffke, lecturer in Economics and Business and co-author of the proposal. “The entrepreneurial mindset provides for advancement of skills such as negotiator, risk taker, creator/innovator, and team player. Corporations, both small and large, are looking for ways in which to create and maintain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace, and the feeling is that these skills enveloped in the entrepreneurial mindset are key.”

Building blocks for the minor have already been in place; entrepreneurial-related courses have been offered in the Department of Economics and Business in recent years, and the College has a partnership with the City of Lake Forest’s business incubator to provide students with experiential learning opportunities. Just last semester, students in the Entrepreneurial Marketing class teamed with three business owners from the incubator to conduct industry research and develop viable marketing strategies. Future joint projects include a speaker series as well as what Jaffke refers to as a “mini internship,” where students will have the opportunity to work with an incubator business on a project.

“At the end of the day, the incubator members benefit from the energy and innovativeness of our students, and our students benefit from the real-life experiences,” Jaffke said.

At Lake Forest College, an added bonus is that students of all majors are welcome to minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, which will teach them how to apply their knowledge from their other areas of study.

Jessica Gunderson ’16 is a communication major who decided she wanted to tack on the entrepreneurship and innovation minor after taking Jaffke’s Introduction to Entrepreneurship class.

“Communication and entrepreneurship are a natural pairing. Both areas of study are applicable to understanding global pursuits, innovation, leadership, and quality communication within a business environment,” she said. 

The minor was designed so students can begin pursuing it as late as the second semester of their junior year and still graduate on time. In addition to completing four required courses, students must complete two electives, many which are taught by faculty from other departments, including art, computer science, English, Chinese, French, psychology, and Spanish.

For more information, contact Darlene Jaffke at jaffke@lakeforest.edu or Rob Lemke at lemke@lakeforest.edu.