How it works

The purpose of the Adams Apprenticeship is to accelerate the entrepreneurial careers of UNC's highest potential student leaders. The 12 month program attracts students from across the university - undergraduate juniors and first year graduate students - and takes them through a comprehensive program:

  • There are four pillars of the Adams Apprenticeship: Entrepreneur's Lab course, events, networking, and co-curricular sessions

  • These four pillars culminate in a personal leadership plan and a personal board of advisors at the end of the year

The end result is a life-long network of students and successful UNC alumni that exists to shape, support and speed the transition to entrepreneurial careers with successful outcomes. To learn more about how the program works, please see our brochure here.

Introducing the four pillars of the Adams Apprenticeship student experience


During the Spring Semester, Ted Zoller offers the highly regarded "Entrepreneurs Lab" for UNC students.  This interactive course invites some of UNC's top entrepreneurs back to campus to participate in the course, which includes "grand challenges" and reading top business books.  Participation in this course is mandatory before graduating from the Adams Apprenticeship program.

Guest speakers include Kel Landis, Nick Jordan, Bill Starling, Brad McGinity and Matt Williamson, David Jones, Amit Singh, Todd Pope, Sean O'Leary and Diana Kander.

Books include The Little Book of Do!, Start-Up Leadership, Successful Enterprises, Innovator's DNA, Zero to One, The Knack, All In Startup, The Founder's Dilemmas, and Fierce Conversations

The program has inspired me, and shown me what possibilities exist when you believe in yourself. My favorite part of the program was being inspired by the stories of other entrepreneurs, and the practical lessons we were taught so we can be just as successful.
— David Mansor, Adams Class of 2017


During the course of the year, six co-curricular sessions will be offered to students to empower them to leverage the program's key assets.  Topics for these co-curricular sessions include:

  1. Introduction to the Adams Apprenticeship Program, including the Personal Leadership Plan & Board of Advisors

  2. Career paths of highly successful entrepreneurs: founders, funders and growth executives

  3. Entrepreneurial skill assessment: Strengths-Finder & other assessments

  4. Building your entrepreneurial network workshop

  5. Leadership plan workshop

  6. Board of Advisors workshop

3. Networking Events

National Networking events

Each year, there are four national events across the year where all program participants - students and advisors - are encouraged to attend.

  • Annual commencement Gala honoring graduates and introducing next year's class (March in Chapel Hill)

  • San Francisco networking event (Spring in SF)

  • New York networking event (Fall in NYC)

  • Fall semester kick-off event (Chapel Hill)

Regional networking events

The program encourages students and alums to actively participate in the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Triangle.

  • Adams sponsored Spring networking event

  • Adams sponsored Summer networking event

  • Adams sponsored Fall networking event

  • Carolina Challenge participation

  • EVC club participation

  • External venture competitions

  • Start-up Weekend


4. Personal Networking

With the goal of building a personal board of advisors, students are encouraged to meet with many advisors throughout the year on an individual basis.  The student's personal leadership plan will serve as the foundation for these conversations.  Rather than offering tactical advice, the expectation is for advisors to be able to make out-sized impact on the student's career through strategic advice or opening doors to other entrepreneurs or opportunities. 

For example, a student is likely to approach an advisor with the question, "I've been offered a summer internship at Google, but I also feel compelled to commit the summer to working on my own start-up.  What would you recommend?"  Another example an advisor recently encountered was, "I'm building a renewable energy start-up, and I'm looking to build my network of potential funders.  Based on my fundraising plan, what recommendations would you have?"