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Starting your own business is easier than you think

Entrepreneurial Strategies workshops aim to prepare future grads for success beyond the academy
September 26, 2014
By Christian Durand

According to GradProSkills director Laurie Lamoureux Scholes there is an increase in demand for for skilled independent consultants
According to GradProSkills director Laurie Lamoureux Scholes there is an increase in demand for for skilled independent consultants. | Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg

Worried about employment prospects after you graduate? Why not create your own job by starting a business?

To help you get off on the right foot, Concordia’s Graduate and Professional Skills Program (GradProSkills) is offering a series of workshops specifically designed to provide you with the information and practical tools you need to take the first steps in starting your own business.

The Entrepreneurial Strategies workshop series is free of charge and open to undergraduate and graduate students as well as alumni. The workshop covers topics such as project management and leadership, business plan development and risk management.

“The trend of independent workers is growing and there is more and more contract work available for skilled consultants,” says GradProSkills director Laurie Lamoureux Scholes. “University graduates possess a lot of very valuable knowledge, it’s a matter of applying this in ways that will make you a valuable commodity.”

Workshops will be led by entrepreneurs who have successfully transferred the skills they learned while in university into viable businesses.

From researcher to online entrepreneur

Shawn Maloney’s business idea came to him while working in a lab during his graduate studies in pathology at McGill University.

Working primarily with international students whose mother tongue wasn’t English, Maloney was frequently asked for help in writing manuscripts. It dawned on him that there was a need for English language journal preparation and in 2010 he started a company called Journal Prep on a part-time basis.

maloney-200 Shawn Maloney

Around the same time, Maloney took the one-year Graduate Certificate in Business Administration at the John Molson School of Business. “What that program did was break down some mental barriers and showed me that the business world is accessible to anyone and this gave me the incentive to put some energy behind my ideas,” he explains.

Journal Prep is now Maloney’s fulltime gig and serves clients in 60 countries including universities, pharmaceuticals and biotech companies. He and his team provide expert medical writing, statistical analysis, English editing, and other services to help people get their research ready for publication.

Maloney’s advice for students: “Start small but start now if you have ideas. Even if it’s just a few hours a week, being a student is the perfect time to start developing a plan because life doesn’t get any less busy after you graduate.”

Maloney’s workshop Becoming an Online Entrepreneur: A Personal Story takes place on Tuesday, October 21.

From software development to independent consultant

Tina Cerulli Tina Cerulli

When Tina Cerulli was an engineering student, she loved the purity of mathematical equations. However, after graduation, she learned that the objectivity of engineering didn’t translate into the personal dynamics of the work place.

“So many other factors come into play," says the former software developer-turned-independent project management consultant. “It’s great to have an academic pedigree but that alone doesn't guarantee success.”

Cerulli suggests that young entrepreneurs need to be proactive in learning everything they can about emerging markets and honing their soft skills to establish valuable working relationships. 

"I would encourage young people to get involved with professional associations where they can attend seminars and networking events. Even if you're a bit scared, do it scared. The more you connect with others, the easier it gets, and the more opportunities you create for yourself to advance your career goals." 

Cerulli’s workshop Women in Project Management will take place on October 8, 2014.

The Entrepreneurial Strategies workshops wrap up with the Entrepreneurial Resources in Montreal panel discussion on November 26 featuring representatives from Fondation Montréal, the Montreal Young Chamber of Commerce and the Service d’aide aux jeunes entrepreneurs (SAJE).

Visit GradProSkills for a complete list of all workshops taking place this fall.


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