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Trivia Tuesday: Supporting Entrepreneurship at Stanford GSB

Welcome to another edition of Trivia Tuesday, our weekly examination of the distinguishing details of MBA programs. This week we turn our attention to the campus support – both formal and informal – for Stanford MBA students interested in creating their own ventures.

Stanford devotes considerable resources to the examination of entrepreneurship and support of students and graduates seeking to launch their own companies. The GSB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CES) was founded in 1996 and today supports ten associated faculty members in publishing articles in scholarly journals, composing cases for use in instruction, and designing courses to introduce students to entrepreneurial issues.

The Center also provides students with opportunities for practical experience. Through the Entrepreneurship Summer Program, students who are interested in spending the summer working in an entrepreneurial environment are matched with small companies seeking summer interns. These organizations can post their available jobs to the CES or Career Management Center, and students may also initiate contact with a company that meets the program’s criteria. Because fledgling companies are often unable to offer competitive internship salaries, the Center provides funding so that participants are able to earn close to the median for first-year interns across industries.

As part of the summer internship program, mentoring relationships are arranged between the student and an employee – or even the founder – of the sponsoring company, and this mentor and intern work together to understand the issues and challenges specific to a small organization. In addition to their basic summer responsibilities, the interns also complete a report on their experience, attend one or more CES-organized gatherings and events at various points in the summer, provide CES with feedback on the program, and participate in a conference during the first quarter of their second year.

No matter what their long-term goal or short-term destination, a high percentage of students attending Stanford GSB are interested in issues of entrepreneurship and take advantage of the MBA program’s resources and opportunities. With over 300 members – well over one-third of the student body – the student-run Entrepreneur Club is known for attracting top-notch speakers and organizes one of the most popular annual conferences on campus.

One element of Stanford’s program that students describe as remarkable is the extent to which classmates support and inspire one another. Because of the school’s noted strength in entrepreneurship, it is common for incoming students to matriculate with a business plan or idea for a company already in mind. Due to the program’s small size, students tend to become aware of each other’s plans and aspirations, and report that someone’s enthusiasm for and focus on a business idea can be infectious. This applies to their time on campus, when students might become so excited about a business plan formulated for a class exercise that they commit to pursuing it after graduation, as well as to the alumni years, when graduates keep track of, promote, celebrate and even invest in their peers’ endeavors.

For more on Stanford’s support for entrepreneurship, be sure to check out the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies website or the Clear Admit School Guide to Stanford!

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