By Avonlea Brown
Generation Z is predicted by Forbes to have the highest level of entrepreneurial spirit to date, bringing a new culture to the workforce.
At Cedarville University, Berry Chair of Entrepreneurship Dr. Kary Oberbrunner sought to explore the truth of that prediction and help students make the most of their dreams with the creation of CUE School this academic year.
CUE (Cedarville University Entrepreneurship) School equips students to harness their skills to produce real benefits in their businesses immediately.
Oberbrunner initiated talks with the university about a course for the entire campus to encourage entrepreneurship. He noticed a large percentage of his students already owned small businesses and needed a platform where they could ask questions and hear about others’ experiences.
“After one class, one Friday, I had 13 one-on-one meetings with students,” Oberbrunner said. “I asked myself, ‘How can I create a space where students can have their questions answered and get the training they need without waiting two months between meetings?’ Then, ‘How can I condense business training into a short period of time?’”
The school launched a four-session plan; it will meet from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on October 13, November 10, November 17 and December 1. A unique aspect of CUE School is the setting, offering the class to anyone interested, where faculty and students can learn alongside one another.
Will Woods, a freshman Business Management major, worked on the organizational team that planned and launched CUE School. He works on the live stream for CUE School and enjoyed listening to Oberbrunner speak on realistically being an innovator in the workplace.
“It does require work but it is not impossible,” Woods said. “It also teaches you how to learn more about your customers and audience and how to serve them well, and that is important in any major, whether you’re a nurse or engineer.”
They posted the first session’s live stream on Cedarville University’s official YouTube, where it got over 2000 views in three weeks. Oberbrunner thought streaming the sessions would reach wider audiences and even bring in prospective students.
“I proposed this to Dr. Mach as a way to even bring in students,” Oberbrunner said. “If a student saw this live stream and thought, ‘Oh, I can actually learn how to start my own business and be an entrepreneur,’’ maybe they would come to Cedarville to explore that.”
For students already on campus, CUE School offers more specialized advice and training than can be found in the classroom.
Nate Weidner, a sophomore Business Management major, heard about CUE School in his creative problem-solving class with Oberbrunner. Woods started providing freelance graphic design services in 2017.
“I was hoping to get more principle-based ideas on how to advance my business,” Weidner said. “I just want to learn how to best serve my market because I just kinda fell into it at first and now I need to go back and start from the basics.”
Weidner attends the sessions with another friend who started a bracelet business under the guidance of Oberbrunner. Hearing direct advice consistently from Oberbrunner helped both of them think of ways to advance their businesses.
“It was cool to hear Dr. [Oberbrunner’s] personal experience and principles because CUE school gives him the opportunity to do that outside of the curriculum,” Weidner said. “He gets to expand on things he wants to bring more attention to.”
The training CUE School offers also benefits students who may not be interested in starting their own business.
“This school can help you learn how to be an innovator within your own field,” said sophomore Business Management major Anastasia Stanhope. “There is a term called intrapreneur where you are working within your company to make changes and better your field. And what we are learning [in CUE school], about how to market yourself and identifying target audiences, can be a part of that.”
CUE School’s goal is to reach beyond the classroom and bring entrepreneurship to every facet of campus. In the future, Oberbrunner hopes to get more people and even other universities involved in CUE School to spread valuable training to students who may not know the possibilities ahead of them.
“Our whole slogan at CUE is ‘entrepreneurship is a mindset not a minor’,” Oberbrunner said. “We are trying to show that anybody can be an entrepreneur in any field.”
Avonlea Brown is a junior Broadcasting, Digital Media, and Journalism major from a small town in Maine. She is the co-editor of Campus News for Cedars Student News and currently working towards going abroad to study international journalism. She likes reading, travel, and learning new things.
Photos by Logan Howard