Student Spotlight: Anna O’Neill
Invention, innovation, and dedication. These three words are the foundation for any successful entrepreneur. From coding a revolutionary new app to working for a budding company, these three words are the definition of the entrepreneurial spirit. They signify a commitment to improvement and never back down in the face of hardship.
Anna O’Neill embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, and has always been drawn to invention and innovation. From the moment of her matriculation to the College of Engineering, to her final year at the University of Michigan, these values have shaped her college experience. They have led her to a Mechanical Engineering degree, her impressive involvement with the CFE, and to seek out leadership positions in other areas of her life.
Like many students now involved with the Center for Entrepreneurship, Anna began her journey with the CFE as a freshman looking for classes to round out her heavy engineering coursework. What she found was ENTR 407: Entrepreneurship-Hour, a TED-talk style class where students are exposed to many different fields of expertise and entrepreneurial backgrounds.
“E-Hour provided an interesting contrast to my other engineering classes, and it was interesting to see how entrepreneurs could capitalize on their technological success,” she said.
After her very first entrepreneurship class, her interest in and engagement with the field of entrepreneurship only increased. She actively sought out more engagement opportunities, leading to her acceptance to the 2017 Entrepreneurs Leadership Program Cohort. ELP is an education and network focused program that prepares students for a start-up career through direct access to start-up internships, networking events, and skill workshops. Anna found herself taking advantage of the community-focus of the program, and the additional opportunities it provided.
Anna took special pride that the ELP also allows her to represent women in the fields of both engineering and entrepreneurship.
“I represent a face that’s different from a stereotype,” she said.
One of Anna’s favorite memories of her time spent with her ELP Cohort was the people she found herself collaborating with.
“I really enjoyed the difference in skill sets and energy levels,” Anna said. “ELP really brought together people from different disciplines, backgrounds, and interests. I was very enthusiastic to join this cohort that would spend the year together.”
She decided to deepen her involvement within the field of entrepreneurship, and found a student leadership position with the CFE as an Instructional Aide beginning the following semester. IAs provide an extra layer of support for those taking ENTR courses, and attend course lectures right alongside their students. The result is a unique experience where IAs learn through leadership.
“It’s such a great way to engage and give back to the subject,” said said of her experience.
Anna has been an IA each semester after her first experience with the CFE in Fall 2016. Throughout her amazing seven semesters as an IA, she has assisted with a wide variety of CFE course offerings – ranging everywhere from Entrepreneurship Marketing to Project Management and Consulting.
Her favorite experiences have been in classes where students got the opportunity to interact with operating businesses and real-life entrepreneurs through collaborative group projects, as she learns the most from the hands-on engagement they offer.
“I’m learning alongside (my students),” she said. “I particularly enjoy the wide array of experiences to be had from these courses and the sheer amount of skills you’re introduced to in any entrepreneurship course- it’s incredibly valuable.”
As Anna approaches the next phase of her life, the beginning of a bright career as a Research and Development engineer at Procter and Gamble, her innovative spirit and dedication to others will carry her far. She will continue to represent the University of Michigan, the Center for Entrepreneurship, along with the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Reflecting on her four years of ENTR experience, she feels as though she truly belongs with the CFE and in the field of entrepreneurship.
“The CFE is like a family to me,” Anna said. “When I go into the office, staff members know me by name and I know they all want me to succeed. The support network is truly amazing.
“The CFE has provided amazing opportunities for personal growth, and is far from your typical campus involvement.”