J-Term program expands with new creative track

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Oxypreneurship, in conjunction with the Young Fund and the Hameetman Career Center (HCC), will be rolling out a new pilot track during the six-day entrepreneurial J-Term program this January, according to Ama Peiris (junior), a member of the Oxypreneruship executive board.

The new track will have a creative focus for students who are interested in combining the business aspect of the program with a more creative take on entrepreneurship, Peiris said. The track will be held alongside the original track that focuses on hard skills associated with coding and development.

Courtney Stricklin, HCC assistant director for employer relations, said there was a demand from students for the media and arts-centered curriculum that will be implemented in the new program.

J-Term, worth two units of credit, will allow 26 students — an increase from 12 last year — to learn the basics of coding, web design and web development, according to Stricklin. Additionally, interested students do not need any experience to participate, nor do they have to be interested in starting their own business — a common misconception among many students who inquire about the program.

According to Peiris, there was a need to expand the program to allow more students with a wider range of interests to participate while maintaining the intimate group size. These two tracks will run side by side but will occasionally overlap, according to Stricklin.

“J-Term will be teaching creativity and hard skills to each program, and there will be time for cross-over when both tracks will be working together,” Stricklin said.

Both Oxypreneurship and the HCC recognize the importance of broadening the definition of entrepreneurship to encompass more than business or for-profit initiatives.

“J-Term was an enriching program that I really enjoyed,” 2014 J-Term participant Abel Tiong (sophomore) said via email. “I was surprised that the program was much more than just the normal spectrum of entrepreneur. In the program, it helped me understand the societal and environmental impact I can cause as an entrepreneur.”

The J-Term program is organized by a student team within Oxypreneurship led by Ronald Chan (sophomore)* with the support of Oxypreneurship’s faculty advisers Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) Professors Sanjeev Khagram and Sherry Simpson-Dean. President Jonathon Veitch proposed the idea of the new track for J-Term, according to Peiris.

The modified J-Term will be taught by two Occidental faculty members — Jeffrey Miller, professor of math and computer science, who has worked with the program before, and Diana Keeler, professor of Media Arts and Culture.

 

Miller’s focus will be on the hard skills of programming and business, while Keeler’s focus will be on the design and media elements of entrepreneurship, as well as software like Photoshop.

Students will also get to hear guest speakers and make trips to Google and various nonprofits in the area. Additionally, the HCC will be administering workshops on networking, professional etiquette and other skills applicable to the workplace, such as how to make an elevator pitch. The program provides students with the skills of an entrepreneur, according to 2014 J-Term participant Reed Foster (sophomore).

“The program was exceptional at diving into the workings of what it takes to be an entrepreneur,” Foster said via e-mail. “I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and experience in developing my own pursuit for innovation. The skills I learned from J-Term have aided me immensely in everything from my personal life to my school work, extending far beyond the reaches of just entrepreneurship.”

*Chan is a Weekly staff member.