This Week's Herman Trend Alert

HR in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

April 25, 2000

Tempting Students

250 days until January 1, 2001

In an earlier Trend Alert, we talked about corporate recruiters, desperate for workers, recruiting more aggressively at colleges. Most of this recruiting was covert-recruiters didn't want to upset their relationships with schools where they do formal recruiting of graduates. The need for energetic employees-even just bodies to get things done-has not eased.

Meanwhile, on campuses around the country, would-be Michael Dells strive to build their own companies while still students. The lucky entrepreneurs frequently benefit from serious guidance from professors who use the projects as a laboratory to help protégés learn and grow. Encouraging this sort of activity on the campus is a bit controversial: the institutions want their students to be successful in their endeavors, but they also want them to complete their degrees.

While bootstrapping still works, some of these fledgling firms need outside funding to realize their potential. The student-entrepreneurs are proud of what they're doing, even a bit giddy with the excitement and possibilities. Playing to these circumstances, yet another temptation has appeared to lure students away from the traditional activities of their higher education. We're talking about PLANedu: A National Business Plan Competition.

Full-time undergraduate or graduate students with an idea for a new business, are invited to visit to check out the details of their PLANedu business plan competition. The grand prize is $150,000; a total of $300,000 will be awarded. Finalists will present their business concept to a panel of high-powered business leaders to judge -- and even if they don't win, chances are good that they'll be on their way to business success with these new connections. How many will heed the siren song of what, to stereotypical starving students, seems like a small fortune? Deadline for entries in the PLANedu competition is April 28, 2000.

Considering all these incursions into the traditional flow of acquiring a degree, what does the future look like for higher education? Might we see parallel tracks creating opportunities for students who are also budding entrepreneurs? Watch for more cooperation between venture capitalists and universities. New approaches to applied education will emerge.

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