Reno Rebirth: How to get students to be employers rather than employees

TMCC Entrepreneurship Club treasurers Salma Ayazo, left, and Alex Walos, center, talk with club secretary Sabrina Seachris after a meeting last month on the TMCC campus. (Andy Barron/RGJ)When Ravyn Smith was a junior last year at the University of Nevada, Reno, she looked for a club to express her interests.

“I didn’t want to be an employee,” she said. “I wanted to be my own boss.”

Toward that goal, she came across the UNR Entrepreneurship Club. This year, she is its president.

“I’ve been able to meet a lot of entrepreneurs,” Smith said. “I didn’t realize how really close-knit the community is in Reno. It’s like a family. You might think that once they make millions, they’re going to be so far away, but it’s not like that. It’s not hard to get a meeting with them. They want to energize the community.”

The UNR E-Club is one of a number of school-based groups working to create the next generation of entrepreneurs in Northern Nevada.

Business ecosystem

Dave Croasdell, the Charles and Ruth Hopping professor of entrepreneurship at UNR, said, “We’re trying to expose our kids here so that they have an opportunity to learn how business works end to end.”

While teaching them all of the parts of developing a business is the main objective, one goal is that the students stay in Northern Nevada and create their businesses here.

“It’s as important, or maybe more important, for our guys to have a holistic understanding of how business can be effective and can be successful, and they’re gaining that understanding in this Northern Nevada environment,” he said. As such, they gain connections and resources here, which makes it more likely they’ll stay.

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