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York College revamps entrepreneurship program to meet emerging market

Business students on the Willman Business Center deck at York College.

Dr. Jay A. Azriel works to keep the entrepreneurial program at York College of Pennsylvania’s Graham School of Business innovative and proactive and he fosters this way of thinking in his students as well. The entrepreneurship program needs to balance its bedrock business principles with being flexible to fast changing market demands.

“The entrepreneurship program isn’t just about starting a business,” he says. “It teaches students the entrepreneurial mindset—seeing problems as opportunities.” Bigger businesses are looking for individuals who can help them create a sustainable competitive advantage through identifying opportunities in the marketplace. “They need entrepreneurial minded employees in order to stay relevant in a highly dynamic, competitive marketplace.” He pointed out these companies like hiring our entrepreneurship majors.

With those needs in mind, Dr. Azriel helped transform the program.  York College’s two entrepreneurship majors provide students with a comprehensive education that provides them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they will need to be successful in their chosen career path. “Few programs offer the depth and breadth of our entrepreneurship majors,” he says. Both majors provide students with the opportunity to gain an additional focus in another discipline through earning a minor from any Department on campus.

Students can enroll in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, which gives students the knowledge and skills to start a new business, expand a family enterprise, or help steer an existing company into a brighter future.

Or, they can choose the newly designed Social Enterprise and Not-For-Profit Management program, which will help them use their entrepreneurial skills in creating enterprises that focus on doing well by doing good for the community. Students can also join a not-for-profit organization and help it meet its mission and critical needs.

Dr. Azriel points to recent alumnus Amanda Morrow as the perfect example of what a graduate should be able to do. Today, she’s a marketing specialist with Site Design Concepts in York.

A shining example

Amanda loved her time at York College. She credits the small class sizes, her chances to make lifelong contacts, and her relationships with her professors for how she developed as a professional. She’s proud of her degree in Entrepreneurship. It taught her how to be flexible, to identify emerging trends and opportunities and adapt. It has helped kickoff her exciting career.

 “The entrepreneurship major taught me the skills that I have needed to play an important role in my employer’s continued success.”

All those skills she honed at York College? She didn’t want to use them to start her own business; instead, she wanted to help take another business to the next level. She gets to do that with Site Design Concepts. The company was already in its second decade when she joined the team. But, she’s used her skills to help them find their way through a new, emerging market in York.

Entrepreneurial spirit

As Dr. Azriel points out, students can use the knowledge they get from the degree to pursue their dreams of owning their own businesses. But the program also offers avenues for someone like Amanda, whose entrepreneurial vision can boost an existing company.

He also says that someone with a family business, such as a restaurant, retail shop, or funeral home could benefit from taking the program. It will give them the necessary tools to improve that family’s enterprise.

The entrepreneurial mindset is needed at places like non-profits and social interest ventures. Students in the program will learn how to get out in front of emerging trends and help those organizations strive. Instruction in subjects like grant-writing is just one area that gives graduates highly sought-after skills that social enterprises need.

Dr. Azriel is proud of the changes to the program. He says it is comprehensive, with more entrepreneurship courses than other entrepreneurship programs. Students graduate with a well-rounded education which helps them shine against the competition.

“The degree has changed to meet the market,” he says. “Companies today know they need entrepreneurial-minded employees in order to succeed.”