Students can earn the certification in one semester by taking three classes, including an internship with a local business.

SAN MARCOS — A new program being rolled out this fall at Palomar College’s Rancho Bernardo campus aims to give students a head start in the brave new world of self employment—a growing category of businesses known as “the Gig Economy.”

According to the Intuit 2020 Report, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will consist of freelancers and independent contractors. Business models are shifting rapidly, and with this new program, Palomar is helping to prepare students to become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Palomar Professor and Business Department Chair Jackie Martin said students can earn the new Certificate of Proficiency by completing two fast-track classes and an internship—all of which can be done in a single semester.

“It’s important that we give students something other than a traditional transfer degree, because so many of them will be working in the gig economy,” said Martin. “Small business entrepreneurship is essential for our students, as the world of work is changing. Palomar’s Business students will be part of this change.”

Two of the classes required for the certificate are BMGT 153, Small Business Entrepreneurship, and BUS 152, Social Media for Business—both are being offered in Rancho Bernardo and Fallbrook as eight-week fast track classes. The third class requires students to complete an internship with one of five local businesses that have partnered with Palomar for the Gig Economy program.

“So each student will actually work inside a small business and learn the nuts and bolts as they envision creating their own business,” Martin said. “It is this very connected experience, where they’re taking classes but also able to start their business at the same time—all while learning with a particular local company.”

The five business partners are Mostra Coffee, Code Ninjas, Kid Ventures, Holistic Baseball and Cassida.

Jason Jarvinen, an Assistant Professor and Work Experience Coordinator at Palomar, said that more partners will be added to the program in coming semesters, but that these businesses—all located near the South Education Center in Rancho Bernardo—represent good opportunities for student interns.

“In each case, the business owners that are partnering with us bring a significant business background—they’ve started a number of projects and they know what it takes to get a business off the ground,” said Jarvinen.

Among the local entrepreneurs who have already benefited from Palomar’s emerging emphasis on the Gig Economy are Ernest and Lisa Smith, an Escondido couple who were in the process of launching their media company when Lisa enrolled in Small Business Entrepreneurship at the college.

“I would definitely recommend the class,” she said. “It helped me understand and see the heart of an entrepreneur and an inventor—my husband.”

“It validated some of the things we knew, and we also learned some new things about creating a business plan for our industry,” Ernest Smith added.

As part of the Gig Economy program, Palomar also matches students who have a business plan and the ambition to start a company with business coaches who have already successfully launched their own businesses.

“We’d like to have students take these two courses, no matter what else they’re doing, and get it done in a semester because they can,” Martin said.

The two core classes will be offered during the fall semester in the evenings in Rancho Bernardo and during the day at the North Education Center in Fallbrook. In the spring they will also be available at the San Marcos campus.

Click here for more information about Creating Your Business in a Gig Economy.