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A Trip to VentureWell & Healthy Perspective on Entrepreneurship Education at NU

Farley's assistant director Caitlin Smith reflects on her trip to VentureWell Open, a two-day conference held March 20-21, 2015 for practitioners of technology entrepreneurship in higher education.

Caitlin Smith, Farley Center Assistant DirectorGoing into my very first VentureWell Open conference, my expectations were unclear. I had only worked in an entrepreneurial space for about six months, in which time I was singularly focused on classes, programs, speakers and students at Northwestern. My perspective of entrepreneurship education was very limited to what we orchestrate here in Evanston; I knew little of the rising tide across the country of brilliant, passionate educators bringing design, collaboration and innovation to their students.

Hundreds of faculty members, staff and students – from engineering, business, design and other disciplines – converged on Washington, DC for VentureWell Open and spent 48 hours engaging in a way I have never experienced at a professional conference. Every session was interactive; I was safe asking questions about other schools’ curricula and mentorship agreements and bureaucracies. My newness to this space and VentureWell was welcomed and engaged.

The sessions I saw as having been most valuable to my work at Farley involved a few common issues relating to my personal vision for our center:

At VentureWell, I found validation that what Farley is doing for our Northwestern students is tremendous. Better yet, it’s unique, invaluable and thoroughly inventive. I returned to Evanston with a clearer sense of how the Farley team can make entrepreneurship even more accessible and impactful. It was a good trip.

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