Preparing Students for the Future of Work
By David Noble
Director, The Werth Institute
University of Connecticut
At UConn, entrepreneurship is a way of thinking, unrestricted by school, college or program, that provides the solution to many of the challenges our world faces. As the inaugural director of The Werth Institute, I have a front seat to the change that is happening in our world. The Werth Institute provides students with interdisciplinary opportunities to learn about and experience first-hand entrepreneurship and innovation.
With the spirit of a startup, in less than five years, The Werth Institute has become an integral part of the student experience at UConn, engaging students who are traditionally underrepresented or marginalized within entrepreneurial communities. Not housed in a singular department or college, The Werth Institute strives to be a node of connection across the University for students in all schools and departments to equip them with skillsets critical for any future career path.
One of our areas of focus that I’d like to share with you since being recognized for Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship is our work in using current trends in employment to better prepare students to succeed in our increasingly digital economy. At the heart of this is experiential learning.
The Stamford Startup Studio (S3) employs UConn students from all disciplines full-time to create technology products for local industries. S3 provides a unique cooperative educational experience where students spend a year outside of the classroom gaining hands-on experience networking and collaborating with consultants, corporate partners, venture capitalists and senior business leaders to ensure they’re bringing relevant and innovative solutions to market. Special attention is paid to skill development around emerging technologies, such as machine learning, 5G-ready applications, and virtual and augmented reality.
Since its launch in the fall of 2021, S3 has provided an intensive experience of learning and working to accelerate student growth and place them in elite roles. From the inaugural cohort of students, we had the first undergraduate student startup to be accepted into UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP). Two additional startups were founded, and a minimal viable product, WKNDR, harnessing AI curation technology to make deciding weekend plans a bit easier, was launched.
Elite career paths come from early starts in technology that require technical training beyond what you learn in the classroom. S3 marries skill development, career preparation and the entrepreneurial mindset that will place UConn students in the most competitive roles today and increase their trajectories for a lifetime. Through S3, our students will be able to demonstrate the quality of what they’ve done to those employers looking for the very best students. This is a huge investment in individual students – way beyond what most programs do – that takes the theoretical to the applied and really drives home how to be excellent in many of the different digital skills.
We are embarking on a time of great opportunity to make entrepreneurship inclusive for all by exploring new, non-traditional career paths sought after by many students. If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved with the work we’re doing, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.