With the retirement of Dr. Deirdre Sartorelli, former director and assistant dean of the Curtis L. Gerrish School of Business, the Colin & Erika Angle Center for Entrepreneurship is blazing a new future, thanks to new Director Gina Deschamps and MBA student and Graduate Assistant Will Genaway.
We sat down with the duo to discuss entrepreneurship, community outreach, and a reboot of the Center’s initiatives, including FUEL Club, the FUEL Your Fire podcast, and Spark U workshops, which run through October.
Gina, what does the opportunity to helm the Center for Entrepreneurship mean to you, and what drew you to the role?
Gina Deschamps: Leading the Center for Entrepreneurship is a dream come true. Being here allows for the sharing of my business experiences and education to help our students realize their potential. Having the opportunity to help young people pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations is exactly what drew me to this position. And we have such a solid foundation to build from, one that was created by my predecessor, Dr. Deirdre Sartorelli. Dr. Sartorelli created many sustainable programs here at the Center for Entrepreneurship, all of which we will continue, along with offering many new initiatives for the Endicott campus and the community at-large.
What are some of your ideas for leading the Center forward?
Deschamps: Some ideas include creating specific minor concentrations within the broader entrepreneurial major area of study. We also want to continue to be agile in responding to the needs of the campus and community and create a powerhouse FUEL Club that’s recognized for its entrepreneurial thinking and output. Also, to solidify our external reputation, locally and beyond. In essence, to continue developing a rich educational experience for all of those who are eager to learn about how to be an entrepreneur.
Will Genaway: The FUEL Your Fire podcast was launched in the spring of this year, and we’re looking forward to continuing it. We also plan to host industry professionals from all backgrounds and experiences who’ll discuss their entrepreneurial journeys. Our annual Spark Tank event will take place this spring. Students who’ve participated in the Center’s variety of activities and refined their pitches will be able to compete for up to $10,000 toward their startup.
What role does the Center for Entrepreneurship play at Endicott and what opportunities do you see for the Center in its relationships with other parts of the College?
Deschamps: Our goal is to increase visibility across campus and foster the idea that you don’t need to be a business major to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial thinking can exist anywhere. To that end, we hope to create opportunities to cross the boundaries of majors to tackle, solve, and create new business opportunities by demonstrating how powerful it is to involve different perspectives in the process of creative thinking.
Genaway: There’s a common conclusion that only business students believe they can take on entrepreneurial career paths when, in fact, any student can get involved with the department. Since the start of the school year, we’ve partnered with graphic design students, and they’ve done a great job in making our FUEL Club conference room look like an excellent location to collaborate and share ideas. We’re looking to collaborate with more departments and schools on campus, as well as high schools in the surrounding area. The Center for Entrepreneurship is a collaborative workplace where all ideas and entrepreneurs are welcome.
How do you plan on engaging the broader community in your work at the Center for Entrepreneurship?
Deschamps: We’d like to establish ourselves as a resource to the broader community by being a place to seek advice for entrepreneurial endeavors. That would include establishing programs that help to foster entrepreneurial thinking among young people at the high school level, as well as helping new business ventures looking to locate here in Beverly and beyond. There’s an immense amount of talent here on the Endicott campus and we think the opportunity to help the broader community offers great reward and a sense of accomplishment that’s much bigger than any one person.
Genaway: All of our initiatives are intended to ensure that students, faculty, staff, and members of the Endicott and North Shore communities are able to use the Angle Center as a resource for their entrepreneurial endeavors, and that’s a goal that the department is communicating across campus and in the community. Upcoming events can be registered for at https://linktr.ee/ecfuel. Our website is also a great resource for anybody looking to get involved.
If you were talking with a group of incoming students, what would you tell them about getting involved with the Center for Entrepreneurship?
Genaway: The first semester of college can often be an intimidating learning process for new students. My advice would be to get involved early and often with not only the Center for Entrepreneurship but with all of the amazing opportunities that Endicott has to offer. Connecting and building a network can help students land their dream internship or job positions, and it starts with the professional connections that the Center for Entrepreneurship has access to. The activities and events hosted by the department not only allow students to learn about being their own boss but also provide an opportunity for every student to expand their professional network. Networking with guest speakers and other community members may open up a possibility for students to intern or receive a full-time offer upon graduation. The sky's the limit with the number of connections and advice that a student can receive from Endicott community members and other professionals in the North Shore area and beyond.