Mar 20, 2019

Entrepreneur Mentorship Program helps students prepare for their futures

College graduation and entering the work force may be scary thoughts for many students getting ready to leave campus. Fear of the future and having plans is something that frightens many students.

Fortunately for students in Fresno State’s Entrepreneur Mentorship Program, they are given the tools and the access to networking that many other students on campus do not have access too.

The EMP is based in the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the program’s goal is to help students build the tools to succeed in the business world as well as network with successful individuals in the community.

Nancy Kobata, the office manager for the Lyles Center and head of the EMP, started the program five years ago.

“We created it because we saw that students who were graduating lacked some of the basic skills to help them in the job market, so we decided [to] create the mentorship program to help them build these skills as well as network with successful individuals in the community,” Kobata said.

The EMP is a year-long program that is very exclusive and accepts only 20 applicants each year. The applicants then begin a process in which they are required to interview before they are accepted. Applicants must be very committed. The program calls for around 15 hours a month for the program, including every Friday afternoon.

The activities in the program include workshops like a leadership assessment, business etiquette, and formal dining settings where proper dining etiquette is taught to the students. The students are also encouraged to meet with their mentors as often as possible to discuss their current and future goals. The students also have access to every mentor to help build their networks as well as seek additional advice.

The EMP is a hands-on program, which seeks to provide its students with real-world experience.

“[The] mentorship program is an interactive one on one program that gives you an inside look at the business world from the eyes of a successful entrepreneur,” EMP member Eric Thomson said.

Many of the graduates go on to be very successful in the work force. Many graduates start their own business or are able to work their way up companies with the skills they acquire from the program.

“The mentor program allows you to get in contact with people you would never normally have access to, you get crazy connections,” Krystal Kitahara, a graduate of the EMP, said. “It really helped me learn a lot and prepare myself.”

Another goal of the EMP is to help keep some of the entrepreneurs in Fresno to help with Fresno’s economy. The goal is to show entrepreneurs that they can run a successful business in Fresno and that they don’t need to go to Los Angeles or the Bay Area.

Kobata also talked about how many of the students who graduate do go on to stay in Fresno and become successful.

The EMP may only be in its fifth year, but it has already helped many students and is still looking for new innovative ways to help its students learn, network and gain hands-on experience.

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