Tuesday – September 18, 2018
MATC Program Helps Students Follow Entrepreneurial Dreams
Armen Hadjinian wrote a textbook, The Entrepreneur's Launch Guide, which is used in MATC's entrepreneurship technical diploma program.
The term “entrepreneurship” conjures up images of the hit ABC reality show “Shark Tank.” Milwaukee Area Technical College’s entrepreneurship technical diploma program and Center for Entrepreneurship are a bit like “Shark Tank,” but without the star investors’ “abrasive personalities and their money,” Armen Hadjinian said with a wry smile.
Hadjinian is coordinator and instructor for MATC's entrepreneurship program and the advisor for the center, both of which launched in 2012. The center offers computers, a big screen TV and work space for students, alumni, entrepreneurs and mentors to congregate and share ideas. The technical diploma provides instructional support for students, many of whom have already begun their own businesses and are looking to grow them. The diploma is offered in a traditional format and also entirely online. A six-credit certificate in entrepreneurship also is offered. MATC’s program was one of the first offered in Wisconsin.
The center and the program were boosted in 2013 by a $50,000 grant from the Helen Bader Foundation, which helped with equipment and scholarships for students involved in service learning projects.
Hadjinian is MATC's entrepreneurship program coordinator and instructor, as well as advisor for MATC's Center for Entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship on Upswing
The program is growing, Hadjinian said. “Recently, I’ve noticed a change from students saying ‘I want to start my own business’ to “I am running my own business. Many students are unemployed or underemployed. They are motivated by hearing about layoffs and economic uncertainty. We teach survival entrepreneurship.”
People also are becoming entrepreneurs for personal fulfillment or because they enjoy the challenge, Hadjinian said. He sees an uptick in the number of people interested in starting their own businesses, in part because of the expansion of internet business. He explained that the growth in technology allows entrepreneurs to have an online store running 24 hours a day. They can fill orders on their own schedule, many times during off hours from a more traditional job.
“What’s so great is that our students are engaged and hungry to learn. At universities, sometimes students are taking courses because it’s what’s expected of them. They feel they are supposed to be there. Many of our students have learned the value of education by experiencing what it’s like to work at the types of jobs they had to settle for without higher education. These students have come full circle. They know they need education to improve their lives.”
-Armen Hadjinian, MATC entrepreneurship program coordinator and instructor, and MATC Center for Entrepreneurship advisor
An entrepreneur himself, Hadjinian formerly owned a running gear store. After his mother died, he took over the family’s carpet business. He began teaching part time at MATC in 1983. In 2010, he was hired as a full-time business management instructor. Hadjinian revamped MATC’s existing small business training diploma program curriculum to put more emphasis on entrepreneurship, strategy and new product development. He developed five new courses and a textbook.
“I love teaching,” he said. “I never thought I’d end up a teacher. I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”
Students Engaged and Hungry to Learn
Hadjinian particularly enjoys working with MATC students. “What’s so great is that our students are engaged and hungry to learn. At universities, sometimes students are taking courses because it’s what’s expected of them. They feel they are supposed to be there. Many of our students have learned the value of education by experiencing what it’s like to work at the types of jobs they had to settle for without higher education. These students have come full circle. They know they need education to improve their lives.”
Hadjinian believes that internet technology and economic necessity are spurring an increase in the number of entrepreneurs.
Students who wish to continue beyond the technical diploma program often enroll in MATC’s individualized technical studies associate degree program, which is a customized degree for students who need to combine skills and knowledge from different disciplines. The entrepreneurship students can then take courses related to products they want to sell or the processes needed to create those products.
“I feel very invested in the lives of our students,” Hadjinian said. “I look at myself more as a coach than a teacher. I like to help students go where they need to go.”
Learn more about Hadjinian's teaching methods and use of technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXSVbmC2S9Y
For more information on the entrepreneurship technical diploma, visit: http://www.matc.edu/business/diplomas/entrepreneurship.cfm
For information on the entrepreneurship certificate, visit:
For information on the individualized technical studies associate degree program, visit: