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Why Entrepreneurship Is on the Rise for College Students & Tips for Joining the Startup World

Career & Money

Sat, April 06

The traditional image of a career-seeking graduate, ready to be enraptured by a secure corporate job, is slowly being replaced by a defining trend: the student entrepreneur. Due to overarching reasons like the ever-changing job market, its many layoffs, and the advent of technology and artificial intelligence (AI), self-starting ventures are starting to look like the more lucrative option for teenagers and university students.

The rise of the gig economy and the increasing availability of resources for young entrepreneurs are also contributing to this trend. As a result, more students are leaping into entrepreneurship and charting their paths to success.

Whether through launching a startup or pursuing freelance work, the student entrepreneur is a new force to be reckoned with in today's ever-changing employment landscape.

An Ever-Changing Job Market

The job market is constantly evolving, with new industries emerging and old ones fading away. With advances in technology and automation, the skills and qualifications needed to succeed in the workforce are also changing rapidly.

The uncertain and changing job market is not a deterrent for students but a challenge they are determined to overcome. It pushes them to explore alternative routes to success and demonstrate their adaptability and resilience. According to CrunchBase News, over 191,000 workers at U.S.-based tech companies were laid off in mass job cuts in 2023, but this has not deterred student entrepreneurs from pursuing their dreams.

The increasing number of layoffs at even billion-dollar companies have contributed to uncertain economic times for the current workforce.

It's also a crumbling fact that traditional jobs aren't as secure or guaranteed anymore. The rise of automation and generative artificial intelligence (AI) has caused companies to restructure themselves on a large scale. More jobs are being automated, hence reducing the demand for jobs in sectors such as banking. Now, jobs related to creativity and innovation are on the rise.

This directly corresponds with the rise of entrepreneurship.

Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

The Idolisation of “Startup Culture”

A cultural shift towards the idolization of startup culture has been led by factors like influencers and content creators documenting their journey to making 100,000 dollars a month. The rise of platforms allowing virtually anybody to sell courses online, and the rise in e-commerce has allowed multitudes of people to quit their 9-to-5 jobs and work for themselves.

Many such stories have been documented on social media and have garnered tremendous support. Stories like these lead to a glamorized picture of what working at a startup is like. This glamorization fuels students' desire to pursue entrepreneurship as a viable path.

The idolization of the "get rich quick" path has also contributed to the allure surrounding startup culture. However, there's also a deeper motivation. Students are inspired to find solutions to real-life problems, and many are motivated by their own problems.

Working in a co-working space, having no restrictions on clothing, and having a flexible schedule are all factors that have contributed to the startup lifestyle being portrayed as desirable. Such environments are preferred by students interested in breaking apart from the traditional work culture and instead are interested in finding success on their terms.

Photo by Visual Tag Mx

The Pitfalls of Startup Culture

Popular media often glosses over the financial and emotional realities of starting and working towards the startup dream. Bootstrapping is the act of starting a business with minimal funding.

In the startup world, it is often seen as a badge of honor. However, for university students with limited resources, it can be debilitating.

A university student cannot realistically afford to "all-in" and bet their entire life savings on an idea.

The unstable income and elevated risk make balancing academics with earning a living wage difficult. In the worst-case scenario, this could potentially lead to an overflowing student loan debt as well as mental health issues.

Young startup CEOs are portrayed as human beings who have their lives together. Social media tends to act as a highlight reel for people, so it can become difficult for aspiring startup founders to understand the true reality of working at a startup.

The romanticized version of a "lone wolf" entrepreneur further deepens this issue. Students wanting to appear put together and independent might struggle to seek help or confide in friends and family. This is aggravated by the fear of appearing weak or jeopardizing their vision of success. Such isolation can hinder the ability of students to lead a balanced life.

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Looking Beyond the Binary

This section of the article addresses alternatives for students considering entrepreneurship. This isn't to discourage students from pursuing entrepreneurship as a career; it is for them to test the grounds before diving headfirst into the startup world.

  1. Seeking mentorship:- Connecting with experienced entrepreneurs, professionals, or teachers who specialize in the field of entrepreneurship can provide valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs.
  2. Intrapreneurship:- Intrapreneurship is a business model wherein employees act like entrepreneurs, and through this, they take the initiative to develop innovative projects that benefit the company. Aspiring entrepreneurs can explore various opportunities to innovate within established companies. This allows them to gain valuable experience without the full burden of running a business.
  3. Freelancing or side hustles:- This is an option better suited to students looking for balance. Here, aspiring entrepreneurs can offer freelance services or pursue a simple side hustle related to their skills. This allows them to test the grounds relating to their chosen field by gaining entrepreneurial experience while maintaining academic focus.
  4. An entrepreneurship minor: Through a structured academic framework, students will be able to learn the fundamentals of business planning and management. This allows them to gain information regarding the technicalities of their field.
  5. Networking: Another consideration for students is the importance of building a strong network. Networking is an essential part of building a successful business, and students can start building their network early on by attending networking events. Connecting with mentors, and reaching out to other entrepreneurs in their field are also ways by which students can broaden their existing network.

In conclusion, entrepreneurship can be an exciting and rewarding career path for university students, but it's important to consider all of the realities and potential pitfalls before diving in.

All-in-all, this article explored the various factors contributing to the rise in entrepreneurship among college students while shedding some light on the realities of being an entrepreneur as well.

Nikitha Mahesh
5,000+ pageviews

Nikitha is an avid writer. She is passionate about the intersection of creativity, business and economics.