Written by Yulissa Chavez.

Graphic by Peyton Cabaniss.

Students in the College of Liberal Arts generally do not have immediate access to start becoming entrepreneurs. The lack of access and encouragement to pursue outlying goals that the College of Liberal Arts does not often promote can give students in the College of Liberal Arts the misconception that an innovative career is nearly impossible to succeed in without a business degree. However, this is not true.

Although there aren’t any programs specifically for Liberal Arts students pursuing entrepreneurship, the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth and Renewal opens its arms for all students, including those in the College of Liberal Arts. Although the Herb Kelleher Center is housed in the McCombs School of Business, it encourages collaboration among researchers, developers, and investors within the larger community. The Herb Kelleher Center connects “promising minds with courses, instructors, and community happenings that can benefit the most” through tailored programs, external partners, and other resources.

The Herb Kelleher Center hosts a variety of programs and events for entrepreneurs, investors, students and other stakeholders interested in the research and business community.

One prime example of a program that advises students on their own entrepreneurial ventures is the “Entrepreneurs-in-Residence” program, in which students can sign up for meetings and work with faculty. Other available programs include the Entrepreneur’s Law Clinic (ELC), Ignite Startup Workshops, the Entrepreneurship Live! series, the MoneyTalks! series, and the TexTalks Podcast. There are also competitions such as the DisrupTexas Undergraduate Pitch Competition, which is the largest undergraduate pitch competition for Texas entrepreneurs,  and awards seed grant funding for startups. There is also funding available through the Startup Business Plan Competition Travel Grants, which helps undergraduate and graduate students in national and international business startup competitions by providing travel grant funding to share their vision with the world. Additionally, the Herb Kelleher Center sponsors an annual event and trade show to help students learn more about startup programs and resources that are available across campus through the “Intro to the UT and Austin Startup Ecosystem” program. The Herb Kelleher Center promotes sponsorship opportunities, business plan competitions, pitch facilitation, practicum and lab opportunities, and internship programs.

Another way students in the College of Liberal Arts can create and implement their own startup is by working with the Blackstone Launchpad program, were students engage in a “centralized, cross-curricular, accessible hub for entrepreneurship on campus.” The Blackstone Launchpad program hosts competitions, workshops, and consistent mentoring for individuals or startups at any stage at any industry. The workshops carry themes of entrepreneurial thinking, hands-on application, current topics of interest, and diversity. The Blackstone Launchpad program is beneficial for COLA students since it incorporates the interdisciplinary principles and flexible resources that allow students to experience, make mistakes, and learn.

Lastly, another way to become an entrepreneur is through the Social Entrepreneurship Learning Lab (SELL) Fellowship, which any undergraduate student can apply for. The SELL Fellowship is an intensive eight week fellowship program who want to create social-impact focused organizations to solve controversial interdisciplinary issues. The SELL Fellowship requires consistent meeting times with other fellows and staff, ranging from discussing topics of social impact, design thinking and entrepreneurship and business fundamentals throughout sixteen workshops. One of the primary goals of the SELL Fellowship is to have students critically think about ways to solve social issues to create their own startups to solve these multi-faceted social issues.

COLA students need to consider entrepreneurship because not only does it provide financial rewards, but it is also empowering. Entrepreneurship promotes innovation and creativity through a profitable social and economic outlet. Appreciation for creativity is not non-existent, but has instead shifted to be appreciated in an applicable, immediate, hands-on experience: entrepreneurship. COLA students can offer an interdisciplinary lens to a field that is primarily dominated by economic and social capital. Without the significance of COLA in entrepreneurship, there is a lack of representation and creative solutions, and it deprives COLA students of the opportunity to utilize an important avenue to a rewarding career and purpose. 

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