Twenty of the most talented students from four different colleges across the University of Michigan have been accepted into an elite program designed specifically for individuals who plan on making entrepreneurship their career after graduation. Since September, these students and nearly 300 others have been participating in CFE’s Innovation Challenges designed to test their skills in problem solving, teamwork and creative thinking. Through this process students competed to get recognition as the students with the most drive and passion for entrepreneurship. Ultimately, U-M alumni entrepreneurs interviewed the finalists and 20 were selected to become the inaugural cohort of CFE’s new undergraduate offering, the Entrepreneurs Leadership Program (ELP). The program provides mentorship, leadership skill development and work experience to support students seeking to make a significant impact working at a startup, or running their own venture.
ELP isn’t a typical undergraduate program. In and out of the classroom, these students will meet entrepreneurship in the wild by learning directly from experienced entrepreneurs in courses that combine seminar-style sessions with challenging hands-on projects, and by dedicating their summer to a paid internship placement at a growing startup in Michigan or the San Francisco Bay Area. Through this program, CFE strives to open the channels of knowledge sharing between undergraduate entrepreneurship curriculum and alumni who are industry experts, intending to enhance opportunities for students to gain new experiences and build external relationships that will support their entrepreneurial ambitions.
ELP is compatible with both the campus-wide Minor in Entrepreneurship and the College of Engineering Honors Program. U-M College of Engineering’s Dean Munson proclaimed ELP as “the perfect opportunity for students to drive innovation and make meaningful impact before they graduate.” Its development is part of an on-going effort at the College to provide premier resources and opportunities for students to grow into leaders that will use innovation and entrepreneurship to solve the world’s challenges and shape the technology of tomorrow.
Throughout the yearlong program, ELP students will engage in two, three-credit courses focused on teaching them skills in organizational leadership, product launching, self-branding, innovative problem solving, and more. This classwork will be accompanied by a variety of co-curricular training workshops, treks, networking events and close mentorship from U-M alumni and CFE staff during their summer internship experience.
On December 3rd, the CFE officially welcomed the first group of students into the program with a kickoff dinner at the Desai Accelerator, a joint accelerator program managed by the CFE and Ross School of Business’s Zell Lurie Institute. At the kickoff, Matt Gibson, CFE Undergraduate Program Director and ELP Program Manager noted, “Hundreds were interested in this program, and now we are here. You have proven to us, and alumni across the country, that you are 20 of the best and brightest that this university has to offer. Congratulations.”
Following Gibson’s remarks, students were notably excited and energy levels were high; “I can’t wait to get to know everyone,” said Pavi Vetriselvan, an LS&A Junior. “It will be a great experience to develop our skills and become real, experienced entrepreneurial leaders.”
Dean Munson spoke to the students directly about how this program will deeply influence their future: “Tonight begins a legacy. Think 20 years from now – the work you will have created started right here in this program. It will have sparked impactful change for future Michigan students. You will return to celebrate together, all that you’ve accomplished as ELP’s first cohort.”
Twenty, ten, or even one year from now, keep an eye out for the students of the CFE’s Entrepreneurs Leadership Program as they transform into the world’s top entrepreneurial leaders, and work to influence industry in new and innovative ways.