Jane Schmitz

Jane Schmitz

Passion—you have to have passion for whatever you’re doing. If you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, you should probably be doing something else. Jane Schmitz , Adjunct Faculty , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a teacher?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur and discovered that it goes hand in hand with being a natural teacher, because you are constantly training employees on expectations and how to run your business. When I owned my restaurant and bakery, I was approached by a community college to teach. My goal is to help every student feel successful and believe that they could go out and start their own business if they ever chose to. I think the future is based on entrepreneurship. 

As a child, I started collecting seashells and selling them when I was five years old. In junior high I started a people, plant and pet sitting business which I continued through college. I’ve owned and operated a restaurant and bakery, coffee house, tea room, gourmet food and gift basket shop, antique shop, espresso carts, catering company, and hospitality design company. I have about 25 years of experience running businesses. When I went back to school to earn my MBA, I was teaching high school at the time and wrote my thesis project on creating an Academy of Entrepreneurship for high school students. I participated in the Proposition 1D grant and design renovation of the Mission Bay High School Student Store on campus. The new Student Café/Retail store provides a place where students learn how to own and operate a business. In this project, the income that the Student Store receives helps fund student activities, field trips and scholarships. My passion is helping at risk youth discover how rewarding entrepreneurship can be.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

My background includes experience in hospitality design, culinary arts and entrepreneurship. In the classroom I share stories from my businesses. I share the good, the bad, and the ugly to set expectations and give students a real-world view of what it takes to run a business. Starting and running a business is wonderful, and I will never regret doing it, however, it is a tremendous amount of work. If a student has the right expectation from the start, they will be more likely to succeed.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

At The Art Institute of California—San Diego, I teach a class called Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I feel this class showcases my talents, because entrepreneurship is my passion. The students thoroughly enjoy this class because the projects teach them how to turn their passion into a product and/or business.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

I co-teach a senior culinary project class with an interior design hospitality design class. In this class, culinary and interior design students collaborate and work together to create a restaurant in an international setting. The culinary arts are responsible for the menu and business plan. The interior design students interact with the culinary students as if they were their clients, and create the floor plan, renderings and materials board. They work together to create the final design for the restaurant and build an architectural model together. From this experience, they both learn from each other’s expertise. Interior design students learn how to design the back of the house and what kitchen equipment they will need, while the culinary students learn design aspects, floor plans and space requirements. Many times I have feed back from both majors that this is probably one of their favorite classes. This is a prime example of collaboration across disciplines.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world?

Passion. You have to have passion for whatever you’re doing. If you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, you should probably be doing something else.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

My husband and I love to sail, therefore, you will find us out on the water as much as possible. We have been taking classes through the US Sailing Association and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. We are certified to charter a sailboat anywhere in the world and our dream is to sail through the Caribbean someday.