Clarke University is partnering with the Young Entrepreneur Academy (YEA) and the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce for the third year in a row. The YEA members are middle and high schoolers who are tasked with developing a business plan idea and then meet with our Clarke graphic design students who act as their mentors and partners. Together they work through concepts to develop a product brand including logos, social media presence, and advertising. The YEA participants and Clarke students meet just once face-to-face, and, from there, their correspondence is mainly digital. They email concepts back and forth until they are confident with their product and brand.
Students from Associate Professor of Graphic Design Eric Wold’s class ART-230 Form and Communication are the participating designers this year and include Mariah Pellino, Maggie Christianson, Nick Miller, and Stevie Eide.
A special event will take place on April 4 where the YEA participants will present their ideas to an investor panel. Wold said, “This is a ‘Shark Tank’ event whereabouts each YEA project is presented to a panel of investors from the Dubuque area. Some get their asking investment, some do not, and some get even more than they asked for. It is truly a thrilling event.”
If the YEA students obtain funding from the investors, they then legally register their business, participate in a trade show, and launch their own business or social movement.
Through this experience, the YEA students develop hands-on entrepreneurial experience, learn about why businesses succeed or fail, hear from local entrepreneurs, and ultimately, become more confident in their own ideas and abilities.
The Clarke graphic design students also benefit from this partnership. Wold shared that introducing students to professional scenarios earlier in their academic career helps to orient them around negotiating client needs, while strengthening their own assessment skills and strategies to identify opportunities and build aesthetic frameworks upon a solid user-experience model.
Wold stated, “Much of what they accomplish in this experience helps to mold their expectation of their future career as designers. Attendance at the YEA presentations is also a wonderful networking event for students to sharpen their elevator speech and secure a summer internship with local business leaders.”