Editor’s Note: What makes the Lassonde Institute one of the best organizations for promoting student success on campus? To find the answer, guest writer and U student Tiffany Parker investigated. Here’s what she discovered.
Perhaps you’ve heard that the U is ranked among the best university’s in the country for entrepreneurship, but did you know that it gives away hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to support student entrepreneurs? The Lassonde Institute works tirelessly to offer students throughout the state space to participate in entrepreneurship. Here is four ways how:
1. Learn How to Run a Series or Program
“See one, do one, teach one” — this is one of the Lassonde Institute’s philosophies, and it’s more than just words. The Institute encourages students to run their own programs, handing over the wheel and asking them to choose the course.
Students have control over most of the program leadership: GetSeeded, New Venture, Utah Entrepreneur Series and Bench-2-Bedside are all student-run. And student directors have control to manage the budget.
“We were given the amount, and told to go for it,” said Justin Stevens, director of the Utah Entrepreneur Series at the Lassonde Institute. “Having students run these events is honestly part of the reason they’ve been so successful. For one, we are our own target market. Many times, we have participated in the very events we’re organizing, and this helps ensure the value we are providing is relevant to us and to students in general.”
2. Matching Ideas with Funding
The Lassonde Institute connects great business ideas with funds needed to turn it into a commercial success.
The Get Seeded program, for example, offers students seed grants to transform their concepts into reality. A panel of student directors helps rank ideas, and the best are given an opportunity to pitch in front of a group of peers. The program gives students access to funding, and a point system allows them the opportunity to perfect their ideas with help from a judging panel.
“Last year about $750,000 was given for student ideas (through entrepreneurship programs at the U) — not including scholarship money,” Stevens said.
The Lassonde Institute also allows students to work with sponsors and successful entrepreneurs, like Zions Bank, Stoel Rives and eBay. Stevens himself received an internship with an exciting startup that graduated from a world-class accelerator in 2013.
3. Housing Designed for You
Between the U’s Union and Legacy Bridge, an exciting new center for entrepreneurial studies is being built. With five floors and more than 160,000 square feet of living and creating space, the finished center will house some 400 students and become the new hub for innovation on campus.
Students will start moving in next fall, but the Lassonde Studios is more than just student dorms. It includes traditional housing, but other floors include lofts and the more contemporary pods.
Also, the first floor, known as the “Garage,” will feature a space designed to host student events, prototype construction, competitions and general hanging out.
More than just housing, the Lassonde Institute strives to create a community for students to connect. Themed floors reflect student personalities, and large community spaces allow for open student networking.
4. Offering Students Options to Match Their Interests and Needs
Whether students are interested in a major, certificate or just want to learn more about entrepreneurship, the Lassonde Institute seeks to include them. It doesn’t matter what your major is. As long as you are passionate about what you do, you’ll fit in.
The Lassonde Institute believes there is a place in business for all disciplines — writers and artists as well as engineers and marketers.
Recent student competitions have featured humanitarian projects, aluminum skateboards, custom ties, wearable child safety devices and much more. These programs supports the direct needs of the students.
If a student needs more than just funding, other programs give students time to meet one-on-one with business professionals, attend coding and software workshops, develop internships or mentorship relationships. Students looking for a team can attend Meetup events to connect with other students.
Whatever your area of interest or level of engagement, chances are good the Lassonde Institute has a program to meet it — and if it doesn’t exist yet, you can always invent it.