Entrepreneurship coaching to be launched at School of Arts


An entrepreneurship course teaches, among other things, the setting of business goals and marketing. According to university lecturer Pia Olsson, there is a great demand for such training.

In the fourth teaching period this spring, a course on humanists as entrepreneurs will begin at the Philosophical Faculty.

Aimed at Masters and PhD students in the faculty, the course is the first of its kind to inspire and train students thinking about entrepreneurship. The course teachers are Terhi Ainiala, Laura Kolbe and Pia Olsson, all of whom have personal experience of doing business in the 2010s. Kolbe is one of the founders of Helsinki Walks Oy, while Ainiala and Olsson contribute to Tositarina.

“Humanist graduates traditionally have not had a deep understanding of entrepreneurship,” says Terhi Ainiala, a university professor of Finnish.

Laura Kolbe, Professor of European History, adds: “There are trade names in, for example, linguistics and history, but limited liability companies and multi-person cooperatives are much less common.”

“In addition, the course emphasizes the benefits of networking with students from various disciplines and alumni of the faculty.”

During the course, small groups of students develop a business start-up plan, taking into account, among other things, subject area, objectives, nature and marketing efforts.

In addition to this assignment, humanistic entrepreneurship will be explored through expert opinion provided not only by guest lecturing humanistic entrepreneurs, but also by video and podcast recordings of the teachers with the help of resources allocated by the Faculty’s future development fund. The course also provides an overview of future professional skills.

Alumni should contribute to the implementation of the course

In autumn 2020, the course teachers organized a planning and networking session for alumni of the Philosophical Faculty who run a company or are interested in entrepreneurship. There they also had the opportunity to register as mentors for the course participants or as guest lecturers. In fact, several alumni have joined. A related goal is to maintain and expand the network of people who are interested in humanistic entrepreneurship.

“There is great demand for a course that encourages entrepreneurship among humanists,” says Pia Olsson, university professor of ethnology.

Humanists have traditionally found employment in the public sector, but as funding for such positions has declined, new opportunities need to be identified. According to scientists, one alternative is to make entrepreneurship a viable option.

“This means developing into a corporate culture and learning certain basic skills related to entrepreneurship,” notes Ainiala.

The researchers point out that knowledge of the humanities and the impact of cultural meanings in business is insufficient. This can be seen, among other things, in incorrect branding or the rejection of a company’s past.

“Entrepreneurship in the humanities is indeed a way of highlighting the meanings and implications of cultural, linguistic and historical understandings in different areas of society,” says Olsson.

Awareness of personal strengths promotes employment

According to a 2017 survey by the University of Helsinki, entrepreneurship was the main source of income for only 6% of Philosophy School graduates as of 2011. At the same time, 50% of those surveyed were unemployed after graduation, while the corresponding figure for the university was 33% overall. 95% of the humanistic respondents found that entrepreneurship was not presented as a career option in their training.

“The feedback from the students in small studies that linked humanities studies with the requirements of business activity was very positive and enthusiastic,” says Kolbe.

“This shows that students in this field can also consider new career opportunities.”

Historian Eeva Kotioja encourages humanists to take the course.

“Entrepreneurship has been an important career option for me since I was a student. I saw it as an opportunity to conduct a number of research projects in a variety of ways and to manage my everyday life and career. “

Kotioja has been involved in Helsinki Walks Oy’s operations from the start. She says that for humanists, work is often synonymous with temporary positions and projects, but having your own company allows you to better control the progress of your career.

“When I needed help most, was the paperwork involved in starting a business, managing accounts and other financial matters. It’s great to finally have such a course available. “

During the course on humanistic entrepreneurship, students have the opportunity to analyze their various skills and to examine and try out business ideas together with others.

“We may see new humanistic enterprises as a result,” says Ainiala.

“At least we will provide learning, knowledge and skills that are relevant for entrepreneurship and project-based work as well as for multi-professional collaboration.”

Registration begins on February 16.

Also read: What can humanities scholars contribute to companies? A lot of things, according to a group of researchers who are starting their own business

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