By Chole Sosenko, PIE and Minor in Entrepreneurship Graduate 2015
Growing up a Michigan native and fan, I have bled maize and blue, and sang The Victor’s song for longer than I can remember. When I chose to attend University of Michigan four years ago, I made a commitment to myself — I was going to make the most of every opportunity that the University provided to me. As a graduating senior reflecting back on my experience, I have switched my major, college, and program more times than I can count. I have finally found my passion and will be graduating with an Honors Degree in Organizational Psychology and a Minor in Entrepreneurship through the College of Engineering.
So, do I have a “startup” Cinderella story? Am I graduating with a sustainable business idea or product? No, in fact, quite the opposite. As a graduating senior, I will be working for Domino’s Pizza in the Supply Chain Management division. I was accepted into a leadership development program focused on identifying high-potential candidates who have the aspiration to grow into a future strategic leader role at Domino’s corporation. Although I won’t be pursuing my own ventures full time, the Center for Entrepreneurship has played a huge role in this accomplishment and will continue to impact my career.
The entrepreneurship program’s resources, mentors and course have collectively shaped my academic journey by teaching me the foundation of how to innovate and think in new ways. The program opened my eyes to entrepreneurship as not just acting on creating a solution, product or idea, but also as a framework and mindset that I approach life with. So I want share the three most impactful things I learned as a student of entrepreneurship:
1.JUST DO IT.
First thing’s first. You don’t know until you try, literally. I truly believe this is the foundation of entrepreneurship. In my studies thus far, I’ve seen so many great “ideas,” but to truly know and understand if you are on to something, it’s about going out there and doing it. Then taking that feedback, learning from it, and doing it again.
2. NAIVETY IS OKAY.
We are blessed to live in a generation where we are all connected. We have so many weak and strong connections within our network. That accounts for a huge web and wealth of knowledge that most likely has an answer to a problem your experiencing or has an insight that you might see valuable. Working with others adds perspective you might not have thought of. So why do I say naivety is okay? Because it’s the metrics, the expectations, the “rules” that get in the way from asking for the things we really need. When we ignore these things we realize, people want to help. It’s ok to not know. Everyone successful person has needed help navigating the unknown at some point in their life.
3. ENTREPRENEURSHIP ISN’T AN IDEA OR A PRODUCT, IT’S A MINDSET:
Finally, it’s not your idea or your amazing product. It’s really not. That will most likely change. You’ll encounter numerous learning experiences that will cause you to pivot (at least, you should if you are properly immersed in your customer discovery process). Entrepreneurship is much more than just coming up with a “thing,” it is a way of thinking and a way of learning that involves action. Being successful in the entrepreneurial world starts with the willingness and drive to spend the time understanding why what you are doing is important or impactful. This can be applied to every life situation you encounter.
That being said, my entrepreneurial journey has truly been my favorite part of my studies at Michigan thus far. It has complimented my degree by taking theory, ideas, and practices and teaching me how to use them to make a real impact on the people and organizations around me. It’s about having the courage to take risks and do something that’s outside my comfort zone. It’s about failing, and failing quickly, then going back out there and doing it again. It isn’t just about creating a business or having a “good” idea – in fact those will most likely change anyway — it’s about taking these thoughts to reality. To do that effectively, like anything in life, you need to become passionately immersed in the process. So finally, I want to thank the CFE, Innovate Blue, the University of Michigan and my fellow student entrepreneurs for fueling my passion to get to where I am today.