Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kortegast, Carrie A.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


The transition from college to careers has remained relatively consistent for decades. This is no longer the case as numerous external factors, such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technological advancements, and changing workforce needs, are simultaneously at play. In addition, higher education institutions across the United States are facing numerous challenges, such as unprecedented access to a college education, funding allocations, and students simultaneously working while attending college. These are just a few of the items which are complicating this transition and are influential factors in this discussion.

A college degree has become an entry point for many professional careers, yet concerns have been raised about how quickly colleges and universities are able to respond to the rapidly changing workforce. Since learning is not merely relegated to the classroom, this dissertation focuses on experiential learning opportunities that can address these concerns and help students with career preparedness. Specifically, this qualitative multi-site case study focuses on experiential learning opportunities offered through university-affiliated business incubators to gain a better understanding of how they may assist undergraduate students prepare for the workforce. The study is comprised of five business incubators located within a 50 mile radius in the Midwest portion of the United States.

The findings from this research are significant because it identifies opportunities for students from a variety of disciplines to develop the type of career-readiness skills that are needed in the workplace. In addition, it identifies ways to help strengthen ties between local economic development efforts, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and higher education institutions. The three key categories remained consistent throughout the study: essential skills, multidisciplinary opportunities, and applied learning.


128 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type