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Clarkson Freshman Makes Huge Impact
[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/bierwirth.jpg]
How can a freshman make such an impression? As part of his first-year experience at Clarkson, Brian and his fellow classmates were required to launch a real business and the students worked tirelessly to conduct market research, develop a business plan and pitch the plan to venture capitalists for real funding. As the company VP of Finance, Brian had one of the most impressive financial presentations the program of innovation and entrepreneurship has seen in recent years. With funding in hand, his company began building supplier relationships with WickID sports performance clothing to offer customized options on the UnderArmour rival brand apparel for sports teams, clubs and other organizations in the region. Brian maintained a firm handle on the company's finances, applying skills he learned throughout the year to generate income statements, cash-flow projections, balance sheets and valuation analysis.
Says Brian of the experience, "This hands-on approach to business is what attracted me to Clarkson when I was looking at colleges. The experience and the technical skills I have gained already are preparing me in ways I never imagined possible." Brian is also involved in ROTC and plays lacrosse at Clarkson.
While launching a business is not unique to a business curriculum, especially one focused on entrepreneurship, doing so in the freshman year is Clarkson's proven hallmark. "This experience provides a foundation for future classroom learning and experiential projects," says Marc Compeau, director of innovation and entrepreneurship and instructor for the freshman sequence. "We find that freshmen gain confidence to launch businesses of their own while they are still in school and many are challenged to look at new opportunities by partnering with students from other disciplines to spur innovation; three this year alone have capitalized on this experience and applied for provisional patents," he adds.
Each year the entering School of Business freshman class is more impressive than the last, a trend Dean Sugrue would like to see continue by attracting more students like Brian who have leadership potential, problem-solving abilities, critical-thinking skills, and a large degree of self-assurance.
While he appreciates northern New York, and has taken advantage of the location to visit the Adirondack Mountain region, as well as Ottawa, Canada's national capital, there are times, he says, when he misses northern Virginia and he looks forward to getting back in the next two weeks. Even then, he won't be home long as he joins several innovation and entrepreneur students and program director Marc Compeau in northern Italy to study entrepreneurship. An international experience, either a semester abroad or short summer programs, is now required of all School of Business students prior to graduation.
"Employers told us what they want in business leaders and we responded," said Dean Sugrue of the international component of the curriculum, as well as a requirement that all students participate in an internship or co-op requirement directly supporting their major field of study.
"You get the feeling that change is always occurring around you at Clarkson - good change," says Brian. "Even at the student level we are aware that Clarkson is responding to the global business world so that we are prepared when we leave. I can't imagine being at a school that doesn't adapt to make its students marketable," he adds.
Brian has a bright future ahead of him and is already considering his many options. He knows he would like a military career like his father and grandfather before him, preferably in Armor, but wants to ensure the business degree he leaves with matches his interests and skills. "I like seeing how things work, whether it is a piece of machinery or a business system or process; I like to understand something and improve it," he notes. Coming in with advanced placement credits gave Brian an advanced standing and he is also looking at the possibility of obtaining an MBA in the four years many students take to complete their undergraduate degree.
PHOTO CAPTION: Clarkson University Freshman Brian Bierwirth has been singled out by the dean of Clarkson University's Business School for his accomplishments. As part of his first-year experience at Clarkson, Brian and his fellow classmates were required to launch a real business, complete with a business plan, market research and then pitch it to venture capitalists for funding. His financial presentation was the most impressive the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program has seen in recent years. Bierwirth, a resident of Clifton, served as the company's VP of Finance.