Entrepreneurial studies program offers interactive experiences

While an internship may have been required for a South Dakota State student’s major, she didn’t realize that she would have a functioning business she could profit from. 

Jamie McKinney, a senior entrepreneurial studies major, said she has always loved to bake since she was a child, but she never thought of having her own business. It wasn’t until she had to pick an internship that she realized that she could actually be a business owner.

McKinney said that a friend of her’s helped her develop a brand for her business: Jamiecakes.

“The name Jamiecakes was mostly a joke,” McKinney said with a laugh. “I could do what I had already been doing but I could give myself some credibility and legally protect myself.” She learned about different aspects of opening her own business including sales tax licenses, business plans, liability insurance and how to handle the financial side of operating business.

McKinney is just one student that is part of the entrepreneurial studies department.

Another entrepreneurial studies major is junior Kianna Knutson. She is working on a series of children’s guitar books, which is called “Ki’s Chords.”

“I started ‘Ki’s Chords’ for my own students to make our lessons more effective,” Knutson said. “However, I hope to broaden the scope of my business now to help other students and instructors. I plan to release the books in May of 2016.”

Knutsen wants to develop her guitar accessories in the future. 

“I am so thankful for the advisors and staff of the Entrepreneurial Studies Department. Starting a business is tricky, so it is really nice having someone in your corner who knows the in’s and out’s and has been there themselves,” Knutson said. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be in this department and surrounded by these amazing resources.

According to Barb Heller, the coordinator of the entrepreneurial studies program, entrepreneurial studies has been offered since 2003 and now a minor, certificate and major are offered at SDSU. The program was originally made for nontraditional students at the University Center in Sioux Falls but there was interest from students on campus at SDSU.

The entrepreneurial studies major is centered around six core classes with a variety of other classes to help students work in a wide range of situations with entrepreneurial skills, Heller said.

Craig Silvernagil, an assistant professor in the entrepreneurship and innovation management, said SDSU’s program focuses on the continuum of entrepreneurship created by Steven Rogers. The continuum ranges from students using entrepreneurial techniques in an existing establishment to making their own business or company.

“The core values of what we’re really wanting them to do is take action on ideas they have right now given what they have means to,” Heller said.

The department does this by requiring a major and offering a variety of competitions, speakers and clubs to get involved in. One activity that students can be in is the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) Club.

“We’re trying to inspire students to take action on ideas, support them in what they want to do,” Heller said. There is a CEO regional conference in April.

The entrepreneurship program is activity based and depends on what the individual is interested in.

“Our graduates are doing very different things with the major so it comes down to on one-on-one advising and learning early on what they’re interests are … what motivates them to be a part of this program, what they interests are and early on having them go down these different paths to experience that,” Heller said.

McKinney said while she loves baking and her business “it’s always going to be a side hobby.”

McKinney said her sugar cookie frosting recipe will always be “a bit item of intellectual property so I’ll never give that away.” She wants to find a full-time job where she can be a “self-starter.”

“These students are doing … very cool things … and getting engaged and involved in a way that other majors aren’t,” Heller said. “There’s no reason not to do it right now.”