Go to College And Earn Your C.E.O.

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, July 29, 2007

You spend tens of thousands of dollars attending college with the hope of one day landing a well-paying job, maybe even one with a six-figure income.

But Randal Pinkett, the winner of a job with Donald Trump on the fourth season of NBC's "The Apprentice," says you don't have to settle for being an employee of someone else. It's possible to become your own chief executive even while pursuing your college degree. And Pinkett has proof -- think Google, Yahoo and Facebook -- all successful businesses founded by entrepreneurs while they were attending college.

"Believe it or not, you can have an enviable career immediately -- not at some distant point in the future -- just by starting your own business while you're still a student," Pinkett says.

If you've got dreams of running your own business, you might start by reading Pinkett's new book, "Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur's Guide to Launching a Multimillion-Dollar Business" (Kaplan Publishing, $16.95). The book is the August selection for the Color of Money Book Club.

Pinkett started his own business while attending Rutgers University in New Jersey. He sold compact discs, records and tapes out of his dorm room. He also offered student workshops and seminars on leadership and developing professional skills.

That endeavor eventually morphed into BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar management, technology and policy consulting firm based in Newark.

Pinkett outwitted and outlasted 17 contestants on "The Apprentice" to win a year-long employment contract job with Trump. He worked as an executive with Trump Entertainment Resorts in Atlantic City overseeing renovation of three casinos.

"Campus CEO" contains an impressive range of advice that's detailed but not boring. The 260-page book is broken down into four sections. Pinkett first describes how to pick a college that encourages entrepreneurship.

"All campuses are not created equal when it comes to helping you become a first-rate campus CEO," Pinkett says.

To evaluate a school, check out its national entrepreneurship ranking, Pinkett says. I had no idea there was such a thing. Several business magazines rank the top schools for would-be entrepreneurs. You should also determine how many classes the school offers in entrepreneurship. Find out if the school has an entrepreneurship center. For example, Pinkett points to the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a leading teaching and research center for entrepreneurs.

Now if you're already enrolled in a school that doesn't seem to support your entrepreneurial endeavors, don't sweat it. Pinkett provides tips on finding free or low-cost tools and resources to bolster your business acumen.

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