A new partnership has been launched between the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and Johnstown Area Regional Industries (JARI) that will link Pitt-Johnstown students with successful entrepreneurs in our region to foster job creation and promote economic development. The partnership, named the Pitt-Johnstown-JARI RealWorld Link for Entrepreneurship, became official at a signing ceremony held today on the Pitt-Johnstown campus.
Building upon JARI's extensive network of entrepreneurs and Pitt-Johnstown's commitment to getting students ready for the real world, the RealWorld Link will provide students with the skills and experience necessary to take identifiable and concrete steps toward achieving their entrepreneurial aspirations, including the creation of a business, commercialization of an opportunity, invention, or other entrepreneurial activity.
The partnership will build upon Pitt-Johnstown’s success in preparing students for the real world through its signature RealWorld Action Program. Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar explained, “Our students’ experience at Pitt-Johnstown will be greatly enhanced by this opportunity to gain real-world understanding and to connect classroom instruction with the exciting and challenging realities of the world beyond campus. The RealWorld Link is further evidence that a Pitt-Johnstown education is never theory without practice or application and is purposefully designed to prepare students for the rapidly changing and increasing interconnected 21st century world. We are delighted to launch this partnership with Linda Thomson and her outstanding team at JARI, a leader in regional economic development. We see tremendous benefits not only for our students but for our community.”
JARI President Linda Thomson commented, “JARI is very pleased to work in collaboration with Pitt-Johnstown to support business opportunities for students in the real Johnstown: a community committed to small business development and expansion and that recognizes the need for exceptional talent to keep our region competitive in the global economy.”
The key components of the program are:
- Job Shadowing
By shadowing successful entrepreneurs, students will have the opportunity to link theory to practice and develop a better understanding of the challenges and benefits of being your own boss.
Local entrepreneurs will share insights, success stories, and lessons learned to provide students with the support they need to fully understand the art and practice of entrepreneurship.
- Fostering Creativity
Inventive students will be given the encouragement and opportunity to experiment and test their ideas in the real world and will be provided with advice on how to launch their ideas while still in school.
- Resource Awareness
By creating awareness of the available resources (i.e., financial, intellectual, and legal) to bring ideas to fruition, young entrepreneurs will be able to jump-start their entrepreneurial ventures.
Offering a forum for student entrepreneurs to cooperate and collaborate among themselves and with other regional entrepreneurs will lead to the evolution of a broad professional network.
- Business Incubation
Providing a basis for business incubation by young students will enable them to grow and test their ideas in the real world.
- Showcasing Ideas
Students will be given the opportunity to promote their concepts and products through various methods including presentations to the business community.
A 2011 survey by the Young Entrepreneur Council found that less than one-third of respondents were offered an entrepreneurship class in college – and only 30% of those individuals felt the class was helpful. The RealWorld Link will supplement classroom instruction by providing opportunities to link theory to practice with successful entrepreneurs.
In the face of a youth unemployment rate that is twice the national average in many communities, providing the support necessary for college students to create jobs for themselves and others is critical. A March 5, 2012 Time magazine article, "How Entrepreneurship Can Fix Young America," suggested strategies to foster business development by young people. Among the top-five strategies were integrating academia and the real world, investing and mentoring young entrepreneurs, and fostering entrepreneurship at the regional level. The RealWorld Link employs these strategies, and more.
The RealWorld Link will be coordinated through Pitt-Johnstown’s Office of Career Services. IN THE PHOTO: Pitt-Johnstown advisory board and JARI board member Glenn Wilson; Pitt-Johnstown President Dr. Jem Spectar; JARI President Linda Thomson; JARI board member Grace Markum; JARI Workforce Development Director Debi Balog.
Celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University offers a high-quality educational experience in a supportive living-learning environment designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College,” by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization" for 2011. Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
A not for profit economic development service provider in operation since 1974, JARI serves the Greater Johnstown Area: Cambria County, Somerset County, and the City of Johnstown. JARI connects businesses to government contacts, commercial lending, equity investing, real estate, and other regional, state and federal economic development groups to help businesses grow and prosper. In addition, JARI offers promotion opportunities, trade shows, business counseling and training, financing assistance, and workforce development.