Blog post by ELP student Anastasia Bergeron (English | Class of 2021) Interning at Desai

We live in a world where many aspire to be their own boss. Entrepreneurship class offerings have spread rapidly across college curriculums. On the other hand, some argue that entrepreneurship cannot be taught, citing the success of college dropouts like Bill Gates.

Heading into the fourth week of my internship, I’ve concluded that regardless of classroom and career experience, personality traits are the true determiners of success in startup culture. Whether you’re the intern who just finished onboarding, or the CEO pioneering the growth of a company – these same characteristics will push you forward.

Initiative – To survive in the world of startups, you can’t sit around and wait for tasks to be assigned. If you’re the CEO, you’re building these tasks yourself. You’re analyzing the company progress and determining what you and your team members must set out to accomplish. If you’re the intern, coming to your supervisor with ideas to be approved rather than a “I did what you asked, what’s next?” attitude is a great step to thinking like an entrepreneur and being trusted with more complex projects.

Creativity – You won’t change the world by trying to be just like it. The same goes in Silicon Valley, or wherever you look to launch your business. Whether you’re high-ranking or an intern, whitespace should excite you rather than intimidate you. Building something out of nothing – a brand, a product, an event – should let you show off your imagination and originality. Thinking outside the box and precedents is a must.

Tenacity – Taking “no” for an answer won’t get you very far in entrepreneurship. Neither will leaving a task to someone higher up with “all the answers.”  Whether the “no” is to funding, idea validation, or even the acceptance into an accelerator program, the key is to move forward and try again. The same goes for interns having trouble with any kind of project. Tenacity doesn’t just mean keep trying the same methods. It also means expanding your horizons and connections, and creating new solutions until something clicks.

Confidence – I once told a friend in high school I wanted to start a business. He asked, “Why would you want to do that? Don’t you know that most new businesses fail?” With that attitude they sure will. As an entrepreneur, you must have confidence in yourself and your abilities. As cliché as it sounds, no one will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself first. For something as small as an intern presentation, to as large as a pitch to investors, self-assurance always adds credibility.

Humility – While it’s great to be psyched about you and your ideas, it’s also important to acknowledge that you can’t and won’t know everything.  And that’s okay.  On my first day as an intern, I tried my best to seem familiar with every piece of information my supervisor shared. However, when I reminded myself on the second day that it’s okay to ask questions, I’ve learned so much more ever since. Embracing confusion and uncertainty rather than “faking it” is important in the right context. While people might not see through false confidence, the right ones will see through false knowledge.

Aspiring entrepreneurs, don’t be intimidated by a lack of classroom credentials and job experience. Be intimidated by a lack of determination, a lack of passion, and a low level of the characteristics listed. If you think these traits aren’t your strong suits, it’s never too late to begin building them.