Entrepreneurship program ‘maxed out’

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By Michael Chu

Ryerson’s entrepreneurship and strategy program is being stretched to the limits as students vie for an edge in workplace skills.

The program, the largest of its kind in Canada with more than 500 students, has proved popular, as many have flocked to the program.

“We are absolutely maxed out on our ability to give quality teaching to all these interested students,” said David Valliere, chair of the Entrepreneurship and Strategy program.

“More and more students realize the importance of entrepreneurial thinking for taking charge of their future careers,” said Valliere.

There is such high demand for these courses by nonbusiness students that the department is planning to offer inter-disciplinary programs — combining other majors with entrepreneurship courses.

In the meantime, students wishing to jumpstart their own careers have resources such as Students in Free Enterprise Ryerson (SIFE), and Start- MeUp to get help ranging from developing a business plan to getting funding.

Tracy Leparulo, president of SIFE Ryerson said she’s seen more non-business students in the programs.

“We have way more engineering students, tons of students from the faculty of community service, as well as students from the arts coming to our events. The interest from the other faculties is kind of overwhelming,” she said.

This demand comes on the heels of the federal government declaring 2011 the “Year of the Entrepreneur”. But Ryerson president Sheldon Levy sees this as an opportunity for Ryerson to improve its reputation as a top-flight institution.

Levy claims Ryerson is becoming known as the one of the most entrepreneurial universities in Canada.

“We are becoming a model on how to do this.” Ryerson is set to unveil two new entrepreneurial projects, the Centre of Urban Energy and a new addition to the Digital Media Zone, tentatively named the “Design Zone”.

“The Design Zone will be for students who have a particular strength in architecture, engineering or FCAD” Levy said.

The Centre of Urban Energy will give students a place to pursue opportunities in researching green energy and technology. Students have taken advantage of the Entrepreneurship and Strategy program.

Yanina Chevtchouk, a fifth-year marketing and entrepreneurship double major and CEO of Paria Lambina, a women’s fashion line, was named a 2011 Ontario Entrepreneur Student Champion on Feb. 9. Chevtchouk will now go on to represent Ontario at the 2011 Advancing Student Entrepreneurs ( Regional Exposition next month.

“It presents a good opportunity to see what other entrepreneurs are doing and to see what I can learn from them,” Chevtchouk said.

She will compete with the other regional champions to earn the right to compete nationally, at the ACE National Exhibition in May. Chevtchouk said she will continue to develop her line by expanding into Quebec and British Columbia this year.

“Hopefully this will mean more funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs,” Chevtchouk said. “It’s hard to get a hold of it.”

Photo by: Lindsay Boeckl

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