In her time at the University of Michigan, senior Ariana Khan has truly immersed herself in multitudes of academic communities on campus. Beyond her business major, she currently pursues three minors: Science, Technology and Medicine (STM), the Ross Cappo Sales Track, and the entrepreneurship minor. Although today, she considers entrepreneurship as a defining component of her secondary education, Ariana was unfamiliar with it prior to her freshman year of college. 

“When I started college, I had no idea what entrepreneurship was, and definitely could not spell it,” she said. 

Ariana’s first exposure to entrepreneurship was through MPowered – a student-run organization. The club has become a defining part of her life as a college student and young entrepreneur.

“MPowered has had the biggest impact on my college experience,” she said. “And I initially joined because of the free T-Shirts. After meeting the project teams, I was completely inspired by innovation.”

The organization encourages student innovation by hosting several of the University’s largest events including 1,000 pitches, Start-up career fair, and Makeathon. Ariana has served in several leadership positions, beginning with Vice President of Culture, and Chief People Officer. Today, she proudly leads the club as co-President. 

“I’m primarily focused on the culture of the organization,” Ariana said. “It’s a priority to encourage students to innovate and feel comfortable pursuing a career outside the typical corporate job. Overall, it’s been an amazing experience.”

Ariana’s passion for entrepreneurship extends well beyond Ann Arbor, and transcends international borders. Between her freshman and sophomore year, she travelled to Portugal to participate in a 3-week study abroad program. The program is hosted by the European Innovation academy, and made available to Michigan students through the CFE and the International Programs in Engineering department. 

“It was so different from the other programs i’ve participated in,” she said. “The focus was developing an understanding of scaling a startup from start to finish.”

The study abroad program with the EIA is a fast-paced experience where students from across the world discover how to scale a firm from inception to exit. Then working in multi-disciplinary, international teams, they create a product. 

“The European Innovation Academy (EIA) had so many amazing opportunities, we had a range of guest speakers,” she said. “It was amazing to experience the culture of Portugal, while learning about entrepreneurship.”

Throughout the duration of the course, students work with a diverse team to apply classroom learning and create a venture of their own. Ariana was paired with two Canadian students, a young woman from UC Berkeley, and a Portugal-native. She and her team leveraged their global high school and college experiences to create a product that caters to consumers across the world. With team members hailing from two different continents, the product appeals to both the American and EMEA markets. 

“We created a college mentorship app with our international perspective. The app addresses a variety of problems students around the world face,” she said.

Ariana had to return to the United States before the app was produced, the experiential learning can easily be applied to future ventures.  This rapid, lean-model product development opportunity, along with years of entrepreneurial classroom and extracurricular experience have prepared Ariana to one day execute the venture of her dreams. One day, she aspires to found her own company. 

“Long term goal is to start my own business,” she said. “At the moment, I’m ruminating about business ideas, partners, and funding. In general, my first step is to find a need.”

Ariana’s ideal venture is a socially responsible company, founded upon an observation of consumer need. In the meantime, she currently looks to explore the professional world to leverage her business expertise and entrepreneurial acumen to continue her growth as a leader. 

“I think all students can benefit from learning through an entrepreneurial lens,” she said. “There is so much potential for innovation when students look beyond the existing, and towards the seemingly impossible. 

“I am forever thankful to CFE and MPowered Entrepreneurship for the opportunities that they have given me to explore my creative mindset, meet incredible entrepreneurs, and continue to grow.”

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