A friend of mine recently posed this question – “Hey, you work with startup companies. Should a college aspiring student pick a curriculum or stream that would be useful for a startup CEO?” Of course, the underlying assumption is that this student is planning to start a company before or after graduating.

My response was a “qualified” no. Entrepreneurship can definitely be taught, but I would be bored to death sitting through many entrepreneurship classes and coming out with a degree in entrepreneurship. Sure, I am exaggerating, but most entrepreneurs learn by doing. A business oriented curriculum is usually focused on administration (MBA), rather than creation of companies.

However, can a student take specific courses or get specific experiences that increases their odds of being a successful startup CEO and running a successful company?

Let’s make some assumptions, that our college student is naturally curious, hard working, makes diverse set of friends, and questions conventional wisdom.

Here are some courses or skills that I think is very important for a college graduate seeking to start a company, in addition to their core interest or passion.

  1. A class or two on sales and marketing. Most first time founders struggle at this. Convincing others to buy your product is way harder than creating it.
  2. A 100 or 200 level class on coding. Even if one is not a Computer science major, you got to do this.
  3. Writing and Business writing in particular. As startup CEO, you have to write a lot – business plans, emails, social media posts, brochure material and much more.  If you have an opportunity to participate in writing a grant application or a research paper, take it.
  4. Internships at small companies or startups. This exposes you to various aspects of the business that’s not so transparent in large organizations.

I’m sure I’m missing some other aspects, but these came top of mind. I am very interested in your thoughts. Go ahead and post comments away!