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Reasons to Start a Business While in College

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The goal for all college students, at the end of the day, isn't just to earn a degree, but also to get a job after graduation. However, it's a common misconception that one has to wait four years until getting that job. The popular website, reddit.com, for instance, was started by undergraduate students at the University of Virginia. Students can get a creative head start by seeking out other students' needs and starting a business while still in school (as early as freshman year)! Here are a few reasons why it's a good idea:

1) Gain Early 'Real-World' Experience: It is often said that there's no better way to learn than by doing, and starting a business while still in school is the best way to do just that. Make practical use of the skills learned in class while still learning them! Despite what some of your professors might tell you, the key to running a business is not an A in microeconomics, but rather understanding how a business operates in reality, and how to best market to your consumers.

2) Build Your Resume: While internships with big-name companies are certainly impressive, they're definitely extremely competitive as well. Having a start-up business on your resume as early as your first year can be equally impressive; plus, your level of hands-on experience will far surpass that of any student intern.

3) Be an Entrepreneur: While students can be taught fundamentals of economics or statistics, entrepreneurship isn't a skill that can be easily learned in a classroom setting. It's more so something of a natural talent. Furthermore, entrepreneurial ability doesn't just mean one understands the business model; it can be an indicator of an individual's drive and work ethic. As a result, getting involved in a start-up business early in your career can be useful for any major and on a resume for a job in just about any field of work.

4) Be Self-Employed: Given the current economic climate, jobs are certainly hard to come by for even the most seasoned professionals, let alone recent college graduates. Combat the possibility of unemployment after school by expanding your business' reach beyond your campus and the 18-24 typical college-aged demographic. With continued growth, you can ensure not only the sustainability of your business for years following graduation, but you can also have your name heard by those higher on the totem pole who could hire you in the future.

5) Make Money to Supplement a 'Broke College Kid' Budget: Avoid falling victim to the vicious cycle of Ramen noodles and various other cheap and microwave meals by making a bit of money on the side. Part-time, on-campus jobs are limited and in surprising demand, yet a business of your own can generate just as much -- or possibly more -- income. With a little hard-earned cash in your pocket, you can better fund your sure-to-be flourishing social life in college.

By Mel DeCandia, University of Maryland