"Liberal arts" and "business" are two terms that are not generally associated with one another. However, liberal arts students are known for their creative, inventive ways of thinking and Sarah Lawrence's relatively new program has found a way to foster this creative path for students looking to step outside the traditional work model and shape their own future.
Thus was born the SLCeeds Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program, geared towards students looking to learn how to start ideas from scratch, navigating a start-up economy and networking within the world of entrepreneurs. Officially launched in 2012 as a pilot program by the Office of Career Services, SLCeeds initially attracted 135 students and has since become one of the most popular programs at SLC.
There are three parts to the year-long program. The first part is the Innovator Series. SLCeeds hosts guest lectures and site visits throughout the year with people who have begun their own start-ups in hopes of encouraging students to be fearless in developing their entrepreneurial idea. The second part is the Skills Workshops. Holding three sessions for 90 minutes each, these workshops focus on how to develop skills such as how to build a website or a design an app. The third part is the Spring Break Intensive. Open to 25 students via an application process, and lasting 5 days, this series is meant to get students from an idea to a plan of action.
The participants also present at the Annual SLCeeds PitchFest. Advertised as SLC's version of the popular ABC show "Shark Tank," a panel of guest judges listen to each student present a 4-minute pitch and, based on a set of criteria, select the winning teams. The teams then get to refine their ideas for FinalPitch! in the spring. This year's prize is an all expenses-paid trip to Kauffman Foundation Startup Weekend, where one can learn how to launch a startup in 54 hours.
At the conclusion of the program, each student receives a certificate of participation. Miriam Bekkouche, SLCeeds's Program Manager, explained, "The goal of following the program is for students to become comfortable participating in public pitch presentations." The events have proven to attract a wide variety of students, from those interesting in pursuing an entrepreneurial career to those just interested in expanding their skill set.
Adam Treitler ('15), who attended the "How to Launch a Kickstarter" event, was impressed by the set-up of the event. “It was…helpful and seemed like a neat series for potential self-starters and aspiring philanthropists," Treitler said. Fellow student Zack Martin ('15), who has attended several of the events SLCeeds has hosted over the past two years, is interested in expanding into the field of business as part of his future career. "I am happy that SLC hosts these events," he said. "[It] allows for the expansion of our Career Services department and the activities surrounding it, whilst boosting morale for future employment fields and opportunities," said Martin.
For more information on dates of events or how to sign up for the Spring Break Intensive, visit my.slc.edu/slceeds
by Mary Kekatos '15