Experiential Learning: Driving Student Engagement

Author: Gigot Newsletters

Experiential learning is a very high priority for the Gigot Center, a vital component of the entrepreneurship education, providing opportunities for students to apply the theory of their academic coursework to real world applications.  The Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship, in collaboration with various Mendoza and University partners, will support graduate and undergraduate business student efforts to pursue local, national and global experiential learning related to entrepreneurship and innovation.  Students will discover how entrepreneurs succeed. They will learn what it takes to provide critical support for entrepreneurs.  They will learn how to innovate within existing organizations.  They will learn first-hand how business can create impact by providing sustainable, profitable solutions to significant social and environmental needs. Whether a student may hope to launch a new venture or add entrepreneurial thinking to their more traditional careers, experiential learning will provide completely new and different ways of thinking about innovation and entrepreneurship. 

For the past several years, we have had a number of impactful and popular offerings, but these opportunities have been limited. “Life-changing…  Incredible…  Mind-blowing…  Amazing.”   These quotes from former MBA participants validate the need for more of these opportunities. We will build on these successful experiences to expand the program and to better integrate it into the Innovation & Entrepreneurship curriculum. 

The Experiential Learning program will be offered in 3 distinct formats:

•    IMMERSIONS are a 1-week “shadow” or deep dive on site with practitioner; taken for 1 credit under the supervision of the “host” practitioner within the ND networks;

•    PRACTICUMS begin with a 1-week IMMERSION, which is then followed by 7 weeks of ongoing project work within a “virtual” classroom.  Projects are overseen by the host practitioner within a team-project based class supervised by Mendoza faculty.  Total of 2 credits for 8 weeks of work.

•    INTERNSHIPS are traditional summer internships lasting 10-12 weeks; for compensation provided by the host organization.

Four tracks will be possible and will align with our curriculum, aligning closely with their interests:

•    TRADITIONAL (“I want to start my own venture.”)  Students will gain insights into the life of an entrepreneur by pursuing opportunities with early stage startups, at incubators or accelerators.

•    FUNDING (“I want to help fund startups.”) Exploring the world of funding new ventures will appeal to those students who have an affinity for finance, and would include opportunities to work in venture capital, private equity and/or angel investing. 

•    INTRAPRENEUR (“I want to be an innovator within an existing organization.”)  Students will go behind the scenes with proven industry leaders in innovation, to experience the world of corporate innovation.

•    SOCIAL (“I want to change the world!”)  Students will explore opportunities to work with existing social ventures who demonstrate bottom-line financial viability while addressing significant social and/or environmental concerns (double- and/or triple-bottom-line ventures), in order to experience first-hand how business can create significant impact by creating solutions that are financially sustainable.

Karen Slaggert is coordinating this initiative, working closely with Melissa Paulsen and the Graduate Business Career Services team. We anticipate that demand will be high for this program with both students and host companies. Our goal is to significantly ramp up our placement of students beginning in spring and summer 2016.

If you would like to serve as a “host” for an immersion or an internship, please contact Karen Slaggert at kslagger@nd.edu, or by phone at (574) 631-2714.  We are eager to expand our reach and to find new opportunities for our students.