Youth program comes full circle

Rachael Eisenreich, a graduate of Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota, remembers buying smoothies and slushies from senior students in the lunch room. While this might sound strange, it was a normal occurrence at Eden Prairie thanks to entrepreneurship courses taught through the Jacobson Institute’s BizInnovator curriculum. The course, which is only open to seniors, allowed students to start their own businesses while earning a little money along the way.

"When I saw how much fun the students were having running their own businesses, I made sure to take the prerequisites so that I could be in the class as a senior. When I found out that an entrepreneurship class could earn me college credits, it was only a greater incentive to take the class," Eisenreich says.

She enjoyed the class because it gave her flexibility to try new things, manage people, and do a variety of tasks each day. She realized the course made her think more about her future and her desire to be in charge.

The BizInnovator curriculum is built using lean startup methodology, including the business model canvas and customer discovery. There are currently 22 states where students at select high schools can earn UI college credit. The BizInnovator program exposes students to the idea of entrepreneurship as a career path and for many of them, including Rachael, paves the way for the transition into top-rated undergraduate innovative programs such as Iowa JPEC.

Eisenreich says, "I added my Entrepreneurial Management major when I got to Iowa to balance out my Finance degree and develop the skills that I need to be independent and successful in the working world. I researched Iowa JPEC after earning my credits and was amazed by all of the programs they offered."

Eisenreich first participated in I-Envision, one of Iowa JPEC’s entrepreneurial student organizations. She then took her first entrepreneurship course where she was tasked with creating her own business idea.

"While most of the entrepreneurial ideas and business plans that I have written have been for classes, I feel confident that when I do come up with a marketable idea I will be successful, whether it is when I am still a student or later in life," she stated.