Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE): Building Entrepreneurship Skills

Society-Ready Graduates
Research Year: 
2004
Issue: 

According to a 2005 Job Outlook Survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers the top skills/characteristics employers are seeking among college graduates are communication skills, integrity, teamwork skills and interpersonal skills. Course work is useful in developing these skills, but it very often extracurricular activities and work experience that make the greatest impact in the development of these skills. Additionally the current job market is very positive, with employers projecting a 13.1 percent increase in college hiring in 2004 - 05 over 2003 - 04. For students this means outstanding professional opportunities and the urgent need to be prepared with focused major, work experience and the desired skill set.

Description of Action: 

The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences sponsors the award winning Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team. This national organization has as its mission "to develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills by learning, practicing and teaching the fundamentals of free enterprise." This organization encourages students to get involved in the campus and larger community in the development of community service projects that teach and demonstrate the benefits of a free market economy. As a result of the planning and implementation of these projects students develop many valuable skills that translate easily to the workplace. The SIFE Team has conducted outreach programs on campus to teach personal finance, coordinated the spring career fair and worked with many area middle and elementary school teachers to provide enrichment in their classrooms. In 2004 the students also traveled to San Carlos, Mexico to work with children in grades 3-9 and teach them computer basics and entrepreneurship.

Impact: 

In 2003-04 the SIFE Team contributed 9,424 volunteer hours to the community. The students completed 26 projects and obtained exposure in two campus newspapers, three citywide newspapers, one statewide newspaper, two Mexican newspapers, one radio station and one television station. Total reach through all media exposure was more than 10,791,595 individuals. More than 75 students were involved in SIFE activities throughout the academic year. Every May the SIFE Teams compete at a national competition in Kansas City. In 2003-04 the UA SIFE Team placed First Runner Up among the 120 competing teams. For the past five years more than 200 students have participated on the presentation team. Among these students, 83 percent had job offers upon graduation with companies that they met at national competition.

Testimonials:

"I know I was offered an executive development position because of my involvement with the business consulting project.” –SIFE member, senior

"I've been offered a corporate internship with Macy's in San Francisco. I believe this is a direct result of my SIFE experience; in fact it's all we talked about during my interview!" –SIFE member, junior

Funding Agencies: 

Take Charge America; Office Depot; Federated Stores; Target Stores; Walmart

Conact Name: 
Melinda Burke
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

PO Box 210033

Tucson, AZ 85721-0033

Tel: (520) 621-1140 FAX (520) 621-3209