Cultivating Entrepreneurs: How Community Colleges Drive Innovation

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Chris Mackey, General Manager at The Myers-Briggs Company, explores the critical role community colleges play as incubators of innovation and entrepreneurship with Rebecca (Becky) Corbin, the President and CEO of NACCE. Becky discusses how community colleges generate new economic vitality for industries and communities and reveals how understanding her own strengths was key to her embracing entrepreneurship.

Recebba (Becky) Corbin, President and CEO of NACCE

 

Chris Mackey: Becky, let’s talk about what sparks entrepreneurship in community colleges and in our communities.

Rebecca Corbin: People don’t realize it, but community colleges are really at the cutting edge of the new world of work. They serve as launchpads for the technologies and industries of tomorrow. They foster new partnerships between businesses and community groups to generate regional economic vitality. And in doing so, they transform lives. It’s no longer just about giving someone a credential or some training – it’s about helping students and workers see that they can create businesses of their own with the training they’ve received and go on to build better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

People don’t realize it, but community colleges are really at the cutting edge of the new world of work.

How are community colleges getting in on this new model of entrepreneurship?

We see community colleges going out into the community and actively seeking partnerships with businesses to train the skilled workers they need, while helping to develop new industries. For example, Tallahassee Community College is training workers for the region’s oyster harvesting industry, using advanced technology that helps clean the ocean waters.

Often it’s a question of connecting the dots. For instance, community colleges in Virginia and North Carolina are working with the drone industry to develop new training programs. Businesses increasingly want skilled workers who know how to design, manage and repair drones, but this training wasn’t available until community colleges saw the opportunity. Workers can now get the skills needed to find excellent jobs or they can launch their own business.  With community colleges serving as the bridge, industries and communities are being revitalized by this type of collaboration.

Workers can now get the skills needed to find excellent jobs or they can launch their own business.  With community colleges serving as the bridge, industries and communities are being revitalized by this type of collaboration.

How do students respond to these opportunities? Are they engaged by the options?

A lot of us are taught to avoid failure at all costs, but the entrepreneurial journey depends on being willing to embrace that risk – it’s what gives you license to innovate. So a big challenge for community colleges is to help people envision a bigger future for themselves, of having more than just a job. That’s where the VitaNavis® platform can be truly transformative. When people take your assessments and begin to identify their passions, they become excited and engaged by their academic and work options, often for the first time in their lives.

 

What sparked your own interest in this work?

I’m pretty much a model for what we’re doing at NACCE. I would never have dreamed of doing this type of entrepreneurial work when I was younger. But I worked at the New Jersey Network Foundation that supported New Jersey’s PBS affiliate and discovered that I was good at fund-raising. I also knew that I wanted to help students find paths to better futures. Eventually, I realized I could put the two together but it would have been nice to know this two decades ago! What’s wonderful, though, is when I finally took your SuperStrong® assessment through the VitaNavis platform, my results showed me that I’m exactly where I belong. I’m in the right career for my passions and personality. Now I just want to help others end up in their right career!

I’m in the right career for my passions and personality. Now I just want to help others end up in their right career!

 

Becky’s SuperStrong Assessment Results

Available only on the VitaNavis platform, the SuperStrong® assessment helps users identify majors, workstyles, and careers that align with their interests and personality. Becky’s results identified her as a combination of the Enterprising, Artistic and Social themes, or EAS for short. The three themes together point to an entrepreneurial and creative leader with a strong drive to help others–-in brief, someone like Becky Corbin!

Learn about the VitaNavis platform.

Cultivating Entrepreneurs: How Community Colleges Drive Innovation

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