A year ago today, I wouldn’t have been able to really tell you what an entrepreneur is. Or what an entrepreneurial culture is about. I was planning on following my major into a stable but probably boring public relations job. And then Startup Weekend happened.
In my PR classes, we have to choose a client and then create and implement a quarter-long campaign. I was paired with an outgoing RPTA major named Eric Duarte, and my life has really never been the same. After getting through the class, we both stayed on the team to help the newly-graduated Chris Petersilge and CPE president Matt McGunagle pull off SLO’s first Startup Weekend. For the first time, I was truly implementing my skills as a journalism major and loving every second of it.
The thing is, I realized that I didn’t have to resign myself to a life of press releases and social media and corporate crap. I caught that entrepreneurial bug, and fell hard for the startup culture. Since then, I’ve interned at a startup in SLO, watched my classmates launch companies over the summer, and started as an intern at the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Now, I get to spend most days helping our student entrepreneurs make their dreams reality.
All this has been great, but I am the most inspired by Cal Poly Entrepreneurs. I hesitaste to call it a club; it’s more of a movement that’s composed of some of the most driven and innovative students on campus. Between the speakers, the workshops, board meetings and field trips to awesome startups (kegerator!), I’ve probably gained more from my four months attending meetings than the rest of my college career.
If I’ve learned anything worth sharing this past year, it’s to never limit yourself and to meet as many people as possible. My life would be a lot less stressful without board meetings, trips, internships and entrepreneurial events. But I’d be missing out on a hell of a lot of amazing experiences and knowledge. Not everyone you meet will be worth keeping up with. I encourage you to shake a lot of hands, hand out business cards, never burn a bridge and treat your friends well. Any successful startup absolutely needs a kickass team.
For the underclassmen, I urge you to get involved. These four (or more) years are an incredible chance for you to dabble, join teams, soak up as much as you can and make friends. I wish I had known about all this my freshman year. Most of all, keep up the momentum that your predecessors have built. I’m a relative newbie, but the rest of the board members and club members have worked crazy hard to develop an entrepreneurial community at Cal Poly. There’s much more work to be done, and we need you all to be advocates.
To those who are graduating this year or next, thank you for working so hard to create these opportunities. Cal Poly is an infinitely better place because of your hustle and motivation. I’m grateful to have worked alongside many of you to pull off some awesome events and experiences. I expect this year to be a billion times more awesome.