Interview with ASPIRE Project Officer, Rebecca Smith

The University of Kent are preparing the new generation of Entrepreneurs alongside NACUE & ASPIRE.

Working alongside the University of Kent and ASPIRE, NACUE (The National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs) are bringing this year’s ‘Student Enterprise Conference’ to Canterbury with a range of amazing, successful Entrepreneurs to discuss their stories and business. The weekend of 23rd and 24th of February aims to bring students together and show the importance of Entrepreneurs while broadening their opportunities.

The University of Kent are supporting the new generation of Entrepreneurs with ASPIRE – a space for students to gain support and encouragement for creativity, business and skills. Aligned with the Business School, ASPIRE teaches skills for future innovators and Entrepreneurs, while providing a workspace for focused learning.

Not only do ASPIRE help to give students the support they need, they also include learning opportunities such as The Business Start-up Journey – a 12 week programme where you can work alongside students to learn how to start a business and gain the skills you need. You learn how to assess risks, take challenges, leadership and communication.

We spoke to Rebecca Smith, Project Officer of ASPIRE to find out what it was all about. Rebecca shared how ASPIRE came to be and how the space aims to benefits students:

‘ASPIRE was created thanks to a generous donation from a friend of the University. The donor had a vision of ASPIRE as a place students could come to get help and advice in starting a business. He wanted it to be a space where students could meet like-minded people, discuss ideas and be inspired. Our goal is to support students in setting up their own business and to help students develop what we call entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviours. The donor’s vision fitted exactly with Kent Business School’s mission and vision which has entrepreneurship and innovation at its heart.’

The space allows students to receive support with business and development, but also learn a range of valuable skills to help them through.

‘There’s a mix of skills and knowledge. We take students through practical steps in setting up a business, such as: how do you register a business, how do you know what money you need to set up your business, insurance, regulation etc.
We also support the development of skills such as problem solving, research, communication, creativity, presentation and leadership. These skills are gained through the process of finding a business idea and then developing it to the point of launching it in the market place.’

ASPIRE works with and support students at every stage of business, whether they want to create or expand their own business, or learn more skills to take forward. With the range of expertise and knowledge throughout staff, there’s something for everyone.

‘Every student is different. Some are very focussed on starting a specific business, or even have a business already. Others are just interested in finding out how to go about setting up a business in case they want to do it one day or want to be more entrepreneurial in their careers within a business.’

Rebecca talked about how she got into working with ASPIRE and what her previous experience brings to the space, as well as what she would like to see from ASPIRE in the future.

‘I worked as a journalist before joining ASPIRE. My experiencing in publishing has been helpful in advising students on digital marketing and content in particular. I have colleagues who support students in other ways, such as in offering business advice and in using technology.

I would like ASPIRE to continue to support students through our main programmes, but also to be able to reach out to graduates and the wider community as a place they can get support and be inspired in starting a business.’

Tickets are on sale for the ‘Student Enterprise Conference’ now for £25 so pick up your tickets and join the experience.

Chloe Walker

Special Guest

I'm a second year Journalism student at Canterbury College with an interest in Fashion, Arts and Business.