The gulf between education and the world of work is sometimes hard to bridge. Yet the best way to prepare students for the real world is to give them a taste of business alongside the academics.
And we’ve discovered an incredible story of how that’s being done right now; an organisation allowing students to harness the power - and experience - of social enterprise by creating non-profit businesses that help students “learn by doing”.
It’s happening across Europe with JADE, an Erasmus and European Commission co-funded organisation, bringing together more than 300 student-run businesses, across 250 universities, in 14 European countries.
Yann Camus, President at JADE's European Confederation of Junior Enterprises says: “Our Executive Board collaborate with the International Managers of each country via Dropbox Business. We work to bring all of our networks - which currently account for 20,000 European students - together, to help develop entrepreneurial skills and an entrepreneurial mindset. Dropbox Business is a great tool for helping us achieve this high level of collaboration.”
Here’s a good example. Mona, responsible for the expansion of the Junior Enterprise Network, is using Dropbox Business to share promotional, as well as support materials, with interested students or Universities. The documents can be replicated across different University and student networks, so JADE can load all documents into one folder, and share a single link with students.
Since receiving Dropbox Business licenses earlier this year, Yann says they’ve been able to transform the way they manage these social enterprises.
“Previously we were using an internal server which was very problematic. It kept crashing and then we had a big disaster in which we lost the majority of our working files, there couldn't have been a more defining moment.
Now we use Dropbox Business as our main working tool, allowing each team to work simultaneously on a project, but also giving us secure backup for archiving documents. Inevitably the team travel a lot so the flexibility to run this system across multiple devices has made life a lot easier too. It’s improved our security but also productivity. Workflow is easier and output is up by 10-20%.”
But back to the concept: Junior Enterprise is certainly a model which seems to work. Based on the mission to make students more employable, their results are impressive: after graduating over 80% of former junior entrepreneurs are in employment – far more than the control group.
Yann adds, “The business skills they learn whilst managing the non-profit SMEs are vital, but the general skills of working life are just as important too. Using Dropbox Business to run these companies gives students transferrable soft skills, in communication, collaboration and using cloud services – which are all things they will be expected to do in the workplace, but aren’t easily taught in a classroom.”