Starting university is one of the most exciting periods in your life. I still remember my first few weeks at university – attending Fresher's Fayre and picking up all the freebies, meeting new people, joining societies with the best intentions but then not actually pursuing them further (don't follow my example!). I remember feeling overwhelmingly positive and excited about my future. Others have different experiences of those first few weeks. Some people feel nervous or scared; some feel overwhelmed and unsure if they've made the right decision.
Whatever you may be feeling or thinking during this period, I would be willing to bet that very few of you are thinking about entrepreneurship. Unless you are studying a course which lends itself to a self-employed career, you may have never even considered entrepreneurship and you may be wondering why it is relevant to you.
The Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cardiff Met has a mission to encourage all students to realise their entrepreneurial potential. This doesn't mean that all students will go on to start businesses but we are here to support those that do. We offer one-to-one support and also run business start-up workshops for anyone with an idea that they're looking to take forward.
However, this is only part of the story. For me, being entrepreneurial is about much more than starting a business. It's about having the right mind-set and skills to tackle various problems, whichever career path you choose. Within the Centre for Entrepreneurship we aim to encourage students to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set. This includes skills and attributes such as resourcefulness, initiative and creativity. We specifically design our activities to help you develop these skills. This includes experiential learning opportunities which will give you the chance to work with other students from across Cardiff Met to solve real problems for local organisations.
One example of this is our brand new hackathon event which we're launching this year. The hackathons will bring together students from Product Design and Computer Science backgrounds to work with students from other areas such as Health Sciences and Education to design new products or apps which help support the aims of a local organisation. The hackathons will run over 3 days and will offer an intensive experience of problem solving, team work and creativity put into action. If you've never heard of a hackathon – Google it! There are some great examples online of fantastic new products and services that have been developed at these events.
We're also launching a social enterprise society this year which will help you to develop a huge range of skills. You'll get to work with some fantastic local organisations, helping them to solve socially important issues in areas such as health, the environment, education and social inclusion. Working as part of a team with other students from across the university, you'll be given specific projects to run and will be given the freedom to develop these projects, enhance your skills and explore new ideas and ways of working.
In addition, we are once again running our marketing-themed event Concept which has been really successful in previous years. You'll get to work with students from across the university and at nearby institutions Cardiff University and University of South Wales. Over the 3 days you'll work on a live marketing campaign for a local business. As a graduate in Business Studies with Marketing, I can honestly say that I would have loved an opportunity like this when I was studying (yes I know I'm biased!). It's so valuable to be able to put what you learn in class into practice with a real business. The event is not just aimed at marketing students though – last year we had Fine Art, Psychology and Sports students taking part. There is something really exciting about watching diverse groups of students working together to produce fantastic results.
I hope the examples I've listed here give you a flavour for some of the entrepreneurship activities that are happening at Cardiff Met this academic year. Of course this is just a selection and there will be much more, not to mention opportunities within your course and other extra-curricular opportunities to develop your skills such as societies, clubs and employability workshops.
My advice to anyone starting at Cardiff Met this year (and indeed for those returning) is to really make the most of your time at university. There will be very few times in your life again where you will have the freedom to get involved in so many different activities and to learn so many new skills at no additional cost. Sign up to Career Hub and visit the Student Union to stay up-to-date on all the fantastic opportunities that are available to you as a Cardiff Met student.
If you're still not convinced on the link between being more entrepreneurial and being more employable, then it's worth mentioning that the entrepreneurial skills that I referred to at the start of this article are highly sought after by many top employers. In fact, I attended a talk from a recruiter for Microsoft at a conference recently and she talked about the 'growth mind-set' that Microsoft looks for in graduates. This refers to someone who likes challenges, likes trying new things, believes that they can grow and develop and has a positive outlook. University is the perfect place to develop this growth mind-set but doing the bare minimum will never be enough. Take every opportunity you can to grow and develop and remember that approaching things in an entrepreneurial way can really help you to stand out from the crowd.
Blog post by Lauren Davies, Entrepreneurship Coordinator