By contributing writer Sean O’Toole
July 2018 – 2 min. read
This is not your parents’ economy. Over the last 20 years, the labor market has evolved to demand efficiency and innovation as prerequisites for success. Even individuals entering traditionally “safe” professions need to adopt the entrepreneur’s bold, proactive approach to career development. Many colleges and universities have recognized this trend and have started to offer entrepreneurial degree programs. Two Philadelphia-area schools, in particular, are on the cutting edge of this new educational and professional movement: Drexel University and La Salle University.
Philadelphia has always been an incubator for entrepreneurship. The city’s icon, Benjamin Franklin, was a renowned inventor and innovator credited with the establishment of the city’s first firehouse, post office and library. Philadelphia is also where many of our country’s earliest and brightest entrepreneurs came together to develop one of history’s most exciting and daring enterprises: the United States of America. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the city continues to produce adventurous professionals with the help of Drexel’s Close School of Entrepreneurship and La Salle’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
Donna De Carolis, the Silverman Family Professor for Entrepreneurial Leadership and dean of Drexel’s Close School, is especially excited about the opportunities for young entrepreneurs in the city. “Philadelphia offers tremendous opportunity,” De Carolis told Invest: Philadelphia when she sat down with our team earlier this year. “Whether in med tech, ed tech or other markets, there are opportunities for new and emerging companies and ideas.”
It is the presence of this kind of opportunity in Philadelphia that makes an entrepreneurial degree from Drexel so valuable. “The need for efficiency and speed is changing the way companies are structuring and doing business. We want to help prepare our students for this job market,” De Carolis said. “By offering this degree, as well as classes to students with other degrees, we are preparing our students for the job market they will be entering.” Drexel is currently the only school to offer a program like this as a free-standing degree, but other schools are taking notice of its success and will likely follow suit.
Drexel is not Philadelphia’s only trendsetter in entrepreneurial education, however. Steve Melick, executive director of the La Salle Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, spoke about the center’s evolution into a groundbreaking model for experiential learning.
“La Salle is making interesting progress,” Melick told Invest:. “We are beginning to integrate topics in innovation and entrepreneurial thinking into existing, traditional class topics rather than separating entrepreneurship as an independent discipline. In one example we are seeing biology students use their technical understanding to explore new business and market opportunities for commercial research. Prior to this engagement, these same biology students typically have little interest in business or an understanding of connecting the two topics. Through this course they learn the complementary and necessary connection between these disciplines. This is a significant shift but helps to bring greater perspective and broader learning growth to our students.”
As Philadelphia continues to grow and attract investors from an increasing number of industries, there will be a consistent need for a steady influx of enterprising young professionals to tap into the city’s potential. Entrepreneurial programs, like those offered by Drexel University and La Salle University, can help them develop the skills they need to succeed in an ever-evolving business world.
For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:
Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, Drexel University: http://drexel.edu/close/
Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, La Salle University: https://www.lasalle.edu/business/programs/center-for-entrepreneurship/#.W0ieFNhKii4