Building entrepreneurial spirit at university

The development and promotion of entrepreneurial spirit is high up on the wish lists of universities all around the world. University cannot only be the place where students – the entrepreneurs of tomorrow – start taking steps towards their own entrepreneurial goal by achieving the right qualifications and brushing up on helpful skills and vision in general. Also, it can be a place where students are encouraged to think about building their own businesses and discovering their entrepreneurial skills while still being at university.

How universities help create entrepreneurial spirit among students


Entrepreneurship contests

Even though it may sound a little outdated as a method, there is nothing that motivates students more than competition. Therefore, taking part in entrepreneurship contests will put students into real situations and wake up their creative thinking. No matter if it is about a great idea for a new potential business, a product or even a nonprofit organization, students can simply put their ideas on paper and receive feedback in a low-pressure environment from judges. Participants of those kinds of contests have the chance to get closer to the idea of being real entrepreneurs. More importantly, they start thinking like ones. Being part of a group with other like-minded young people and exchanging ideas is one of the best ways to learn, and improve yourself.


RWTH Aachen University is a great example of how students with entrepreneurial spirit should be treated and supported. The University takes account of the fact that having a great idea is sometimes not enough to build a great business. The funding part should not be underestimated as well. That is why there are business plan competitions organized by the University where young and ambitious students with start-up ideas can compete for different funding awards.


Global exchange programs with other institutions

Nowadays, being a student brings more and more privileges, and one of them is the option to take part in different exchange programs, for instance the ERASMUS exchange program. It provides students with the opportunity to start their university degree studies in one country but finish them in another. Moreover, there is an option to do an internship instead, again in another country, while also receiving a scholarship during the period of being an intern. There is nothing more engaging than the hands-on experience which is the idea of those kinds of exchange programs. Students learn from professionals and observe from really close how things are getting done.


In addition, internships require the presence of a mentor, and the value of a mentor is definitely priceless when it comes to building your entrepreneurial skills. Rather than make all the mistakes on the road to success themselves first, students have the chance to learn from someone else who has already made them.


Business executives delivering lectures       

When business executives occasionally share their experience with students, no matter if it is by way of a presentation or simply a conversation where students can put all their questions, there is nothing but an excellent result on students’ perception and way of thinking. They can quickly learn and grasp real-world insight that the whole university literature in the world cannot deliver that pointedly and concisely.


Tips for future entrepreneurs

Most entrepreneurs and motivated professionals know the importance of investing in themselves — building valuable skills and improving their strengths over time. The truth is that it is definitely not a must for young people to be business or economics students in order for them to become successful entrepreneurs in the near future. It is, however, an advantage to take some courses that relate to business and finance. There may be classes for entrepreneurship, but starting a business also requires knowledge and understanding of basic finance and math at least.


Also, studying foreign languages on the side can be a big advantage since they open doors to other cultures and countries. Students who aim to be entrepreneurs in the future can only benefit from speaking additional languages, especially in today’s globalized business world. To put it in the word of Hopwood: “People who speak a second language appreciate multiple perspectives and cultures and are equipped to exercise diverse thought and action, which is a boon in the entrepreneurial environment”.

Learning a new language forces open-mindedness, which brings benefits to both entrepreneurial pursuits as well as personal life. It is essential for future entrepreneurs that are still at university to take some public speaking courses. Entrepreneurship is never a solo endeavor. Successful entrepreneurs are not making it all alone to the top, and without mastering public speaking experience, they might not able to take their business to the next level. In order to get serious about entrepreneurship, it is really advisable for future young professionals to start as early as possible, and why not as of today. The reason behind is that entrepreneurship requires lots of initial failure and getting started earlier helps develop immunity toward the bad feeling and the consequences of failures, so that with time failure does not seem that scary as it may seem at first sight.


There are many alumni that have started their own business while still being students – some of them have succeeded while others have failed. But the point is that experience is something that cannot be traded for anything in the world – not even money. The idea is that in the trying process, students develop skills that pay handsome dividends long into their future careers. At the end, the justification is in the experience, not in the result.