Campus News

Launching dreams: Recent grad shares impact of iNet certificate

Ethan Jackson, a 2024 COM/MGT graduate.
Ethan Jackson, a 2024 COM/MGT graduate. Photo provided by Ethan Jackson.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2024) — When Ethan Jackson decided to pursue the Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking (iNET) certificate, he didn’t know the long-term impact that the program would have on his professional development.

This multidisciplinary, 12-hour certificate, housed in the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information and offered in partnership with the Gatton College of Business and Economics, provides entrepreneurial educational opportunities and meaningful experiences to help students succeed in an entrepreneurial world.

The iNET certificate requires 12 hours of unique coursework, including COM 381 Communication, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, two electives and an EXP (Experiential Education) Capstone course. The certificate connects students to a network of innovators and entrepreneurial mentors at UK and in the local community and gives them access to unique experiences, like free tickets to professional development events.

“I first heard about the iNET Certificate through iNET certificate director Dr. Amanda Lawrence,” Jackson said. “Meeting with Dr. Lawrence multiple times throughout the process was incredibly helpful. She was always willing to answer my questions and help me understand what the iNET certificate is all about.”

A highlight of the iNET certificate program was the entrepreneurial bootcamp offered through the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE) in the Gatton College of Business and Economics. The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp is an online business accelerator designed to assess and validate the feasibility of a business concept, create a business model and provide hands-on experience for entrepreneurs seeking to launch a startup for the first time in the state of Kentucky. Certificate students are strongly encouraged to take the EXP 396: Entrepreneurs Bootcamp course as their culminating capstone experience.

“The bootcamp was phenomenal,” Jackson said. “Every session exposed us to new people — experts in business law, marketing and entrepreneurship. We heard from the best of the best in Kentucky. This, combined with the shared goal of following our dreams and improving ourselves, created a dynamic environment where we all excelled.”

Jackson alongside team leader Muhammad Qasim, a computer science Ph.D. student in the UK Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering, won $1,000 in funding for their startup Dr. 360 as a part of the Spring 2024 Bootcamp Accelerator winning startups. Dr. 360 is a cutting-edge virtual healthcare system intended to provide affordable, urgent and on-demand virtual doctor consultations for minor to nonfatal urgencies and mental health support, all without the limitations of traditional health insurance.

For students curious about the iNET certificate but hesitant to start, Jackson offers encouraging advice.

“Taking the first step is always the most difficult part. The College of Communication and Information has more resources than you can imagine,” Jackson said. “I encourage anyone interested to reach out to Dr. Amanda Lawrence or the Executive Director of VACE, Warren Nash. They are ready to help and want to see you succeed!”

As a new graduate navigating the job market, Jackson found the iNet certificate invaluable in his hunt for his first post-grad job.

“It has promoted growth in my critical thinking and allowed me to think quickly on my feet,” he said. “The experience gained throughout the semester created real-life scenarios that often apply to the real world.”

Now, Jackson is starting his career with Enterprise Mobility as a management trainee.

“They provide an exceptional place to foster my professional skills and pursue my goals as a future manager,” he says. “I’m able to apply the skills learned from the iNet certificate in a professional setting.”

To learn more about the iNET Certificate, click here. To learn more about applying for the Fall 2024 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 1.0 Online Business Accelerator, click here

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