Tuck Launches Bold New Program for Dartmouth Undergraduates

A partnership between Tuck and Dartmouth, TuckLAB wants to help undergraduate students pursue their dreams—no matter their passion.

Winter 2019 marks the launch of an exciting new program for Dartmouth undergraduates: TuckLAB.

This partnership between Tuck and Dartmouth’s Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship is designed to provide students with general business analytic and communication skills, as well as an understanding of the core concepts and practices of entrepreneurship.

The brainchild of Rick Magnuson D’79, Jeffrey Crowe D’78, Dean Matthew J. Slaughter, Deputy Dean Punam Anand Keller, and Jamie Coughlin, director of the Magnuson Center, TuckLAB is meant to make it easier for program participants to build a viable career in any field. “We want students to be able to pursue their dreams, no matter what their passions are. Whether they care about dance or health care or something else entirely, we want them to feel prepared for what comes after graduation,” says Keller.

A goal of TuckLAB is also to deepen the connection between Dartmouth undergraduates and Tuck. “TuckLAB is an example of Dartmouth at its best—a co-curricular program designed to help students achieve their career ambitions. We want every Dartmouth student to have the opportunity to achieve their real-world full potential, and the TuckLAB program is an important first step,” says Magnuson.

The six-week program is taught by six Tuck professors and one Thayer professor, and is divided into two sections: the Core and the ABLE Concentration. The Core section focuses on fundamental business skills. The ABLE (Applied Business Learning and Entrepreneurship) Concentration applies these skills to the entrepreneurial setting and allows students to develop insight into working at a startup and understand the entrepreneurial lifecycle.

Teaching undergraduates can also be an exciting change of pace for the Tuck faculty.

Most classes are linked to an experience-based deliverable, such as idea pitching and product development. TuckLAB culminates with a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition. “My favorite part so far has been doing all these exercises that I know professors have done with MBAs and executives,” says Sunaina Sekaran D’22. Though Sekaran hasn’t declared a major yet, she is already applying what she’s learned in TuckLAB to her everyday life.  “TuckLAB has definitely changed how I look at the world and make decisions,” she says. “I’m following the data and being more aware of bias. I’ve tried to ask more questions and give myself all the information I need before I decide anything.”

The students who were selected for this inaugural program represent all four classes at Dartmouth and include students with majors as varied as engineering and psychology. Now in the middle of the program, students are feeling confident about all they are learning. “A lot of my academic work involves group work, and I’ve already applied the principles about group-think and not placing anchors into your discussion to many of my classes,” says engineering and computer science major Jake Epstein D’21. “It’s about having an open conversation whenever you are trying to come to a conclusion about a problem, and not shying away from conflict. Some of the practical interpersonal skills that I am learning in TuckLAB have enabled me to have better conversations.”

Most TuckLAB classes are linked to an experience-based deliverable, such as idea pitching and product development.

Teaching undergraduates can also be an exciting change of pace for the Tuck faculty. “Undergraduates bring different perspectives and experiences to the classroom than MBAs which is refreshing as it helps me see entrepreneurship in a new light,” says Steven J. Kahl D’91, associate professor of business administration and faculty director of Tuck’s Center for Entrepreneurship. “The enthusiasm, skills, and energy of the undergraduates inspire me to be more creative in my teaching. It is fantastic to see the students wrestle with a concept discussed in class and apply it to their project. They are fast learners who really push me.”

“I also really enjoy working with the Tuck students who act as judges and mentors during the program. It is rewarding to see MBAs and undergraduates working and learning together,” says Kahl. In addition to faculty teaching the program, eight Tuck MBA students also serve as TuckLAB e-ship associates. The associates judge the program’s challenges and provide coaching during the working group time. On February 12, they will also run a workshop on “Preparing for the Internship/Job Search Process” in conjunction with Roger Woolsey, director of Dartmouth’s Center for Professional Development.

Every one of us has an ‘inner entrepreneur,’ but we need the training and tools to channel these ambitions. These skills are relevant to every major and academic background, and are entirely complementary to the deep knowledge developed in any chosen major.

“Preparation for interviews and off-term internships requires certain skills that can be taught. Understanding the concept of case studies, financial analysis, and strategy prepares students for their first internship or full-time job,” says co-founder Rick Magnuson. “Every one of us has an ‘inner entrepreneur,’ but we need the training and tools to channel these ambitions. These skills are relevant to every major and academic background, and are entirely complementary to the deep knowledge developed in any chosen major. We applaud the students who are willing to take the time to complete TuckLAB while pursuing their normal course work.”

Student response to the first round of applications was overwhelming: the program received 130 applications for only 60 spots. Because of its popularity, TuckLAB is already gearing up for a second iteration, due to begin March 30. Applications are open today, and all interested Dartmouth undergraduates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.