So today was one of the most amazing days I think I will ever experience. Other than doing really poorly on my Cogsci exam at 9AM, which I’ve basically totally forgotten because of the events of the rest of the day, today, and yesterday, have been so incredibly inspiring and thrilling I’m still on such a high from it.
Just as a warning, I’m not really writing this blog with the intention of it having an audience. It’s basically for me to get down my thoughts about today so that I won’t forget it. Feel free to read on, but it will most likely be hard to follow.
So as some background, I’ve been working for the EPE program for about a month now. I’ve been doing a lot of the grunt work with getting ready for the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration, which took place yesterday and today. Yesterday, as part of my job, I had to go and help out at the keynote address which was given by Helen Johnson-Leipold of S.C. Johnson. It was so cool to see someone with, as shallow as it sounds, that much money! I mean, this woman probably flew here on her own private jet! It was really inspirational.. (a word I have a feeling I’m probably going to overuse, but at this point, it’s the only word I can come up with to describe it). Following her speech, I had to go back to work to check in the people who registered for the dinner, etc. After meeting some people during the dinner and talking to them, I got to meet Helen J-L and shake her hand. My first experience of shaking the hand of a billionaire. It was quite exciting.
So today, I didn’t have to work, thankfully, but I wanted to go to the Entrepreneurship Expo which was supposed to showcase different entrepreneurial endeavors in the area. There, I met this guy, who, after talking for a little bit, asked for my contact information (I, of course, gave him my shiny new business card), and asked if I could develop a website for his next project for SA. I was excited to broaden my client base to here in Ithaca. So after the Expo, I had an interview scheduled for an internship in NYC. I don’t really want to use names here, because well, I think it’s kind of tacky to throw around names and things, so i’ll try to use initials or something for the sake of continuity. My interview went really well. I didn’t have to do much talking, which kind of worried me because I thought that maybe he was just talking on and on because he wasn’t interested in me. But it turns out, that by the end of the interview, he basically offered me the internship. As we were walking out, he asked if i was going to the CEN event tonight. I said no, but he suggested I try to go because it would be really good for networking.
After walking out of the interview, I went back to the Expo because I wanted to see the people about going to the CEN event. As I was waiting to talk to my boss, D, I asked my other boss JJ about an email I had sent him earlier about possible clients for my web design final project. It sparked in his memory the fact that the Entrepreneurship@Cornell program was in the process of developing a new all-emcompassing website to integate all of the entrepreneurship websites around campus into this one website. He brought me over to meet the project manager of the site, J. As I was talking to J and JJ about me doing an internship here in the summer working on the website and stuff, D walked over and told JJ that I was officially offered the internship from my interview. In a matter of an hour, I was offered 2 internships and a web design job. It was insane. I finally got around to getting permission to go to the CEN event and left.
I had about an hour in between the Expo and CEN, so I came back to my room. It had occured to me earlier that I could use the SA website as my final project. Sure, I wouldn’t get paid for it, but I could offer them free initial design and then have them hire me to maintain the site. When I got back to my room, I emailed the 2 guys I met from the program and told them. Just as I sent the email my roommate Kat walked in. She saw me in my business attire and asked me about my day. I JUST started to tell her about it when my cell phone rang. It was one of the guys from SA. Not even a minute after I sent the email, he called me back to talk about it. As I was walking out of the room to take the call in the hallway, Sarah walked by looking for Kat. I kind of just waved her off because I was trying to concentrate on the phone call. When I was done, I came back into the room and Sarah said something along the lines of “that was the funniest thing I have ever seen”. We all started to laugh hysterically because I came back into the room and went right to my PDA to write down that I needed to contact my final project group about setting an appointment with the client. Kat started to squeek “what? what? what? what’s happening? who ARE you?” More laughter and random comments…then Kat said “I can’t believe it! It’s like watching you transform right before my eyes! Just this week! You’ve gone from being regular Jenn to crazy business woman Jenn in her business suits and going to Networking events! I woke up this morning and your suits were hanging from your shelf and I’m like…What’s happening here?!” my answer: I’m not crazy, just driven. If I WERE a crazy businesswoman, I would be sitting in my office right now filing my nails saying, “yeah, I hate the world, but I’m still gonna own it”. MEANWHILE, as all of this is happening, Sarah is sitting on Kat’s bed on the phone with her friend Greg narrating the whole thing. I don’t think I’ve laughed that loud in a REALLY long time.
So… I get to the CEN event and catch up with R, the guy who interviewed me. JP, the speaker for the night, came to join us at our table. I was really excited because I heard him speak for a few minutes last night and I thought he seemed like a really interesting man. As everyone is talking etc, another man comes to the table who already knew JP. This guy wanted to update JP on his business because JP had given him some advice earlier. So the guy, who has some sort of software that analyses the commercial real estate market or something like that, I didn’t really catch the drift of it, was going ON and ON and ON and ON about his company using all of these technical terms that I had NO clue about. As the guys blabbering on, JP puts up his hand and says “hold on a minute, explain to these people a bit about your company” so the guys starts up again with all of his technical terms and JP stops him again. He looks at me and says, “what he’s trying to say is…” and explained it all in simpler terms for me to understand. So blabbery guy starts up again, I’m just smiling and nodding cuz I still don’t really have a clue about what he’s talking about…and JP stops him AGAIN. He turns to me and says “so what do you think is going on in the market now?” and I just stared at him blankly “I can’t really say”. JP says “let me put it to you this way…” and explained it all in simpler terms again. “Now, waht do you think would happen in that situation”, I posed a question that needed to be answered in order to make a better judgement and he said “excellent question, go on (blabbery guy)” so blabbery guy starts talking again…and JP stops him “so based on that, what do you think is going to happen” I give him my answer (which was right…a relief considering he works in the graduate school of management! quite intimidating) and he let blabbery guy go on and on. then KMG walked over to say hi to JP. KMG is a billionaire too.. the 2nd billionaire I met in 2 days. I didn’t really get to talk to him, but he was very donald-trump esque. His wife reminded me of your typical rich man’s wife, with the pearls and who had just returned from a trip to an island somewhere where she was pampered and primped. The 3rd billionaire (at least I THINK he is? it’s possible he’s “just” a millionaire) is JP.
So I meet a few other cool people and we go into JP’s lecture. It was REALLY interesting. In my entrepreneurship speaker series, which I’ve been going to once a week for the entire semester, NONE of the points that JP brought up were touched on. The course should just be changed to be one lecture by JP and that’s it. He really answered a LOT of questions for me and had some really good insight about how you should approach the early stages of starting a business.
When the lecture ended, more networking. I spoke to some random people for a while, but another cool guy that I got to talk to was SG. He, along with some other cornell alum, created BlackBoard, which is now an extremely popular and widely used AND publicly traded company. I didn’t know it was created here and it was really cool to meet the guy who did it. He didn’t seem like the type of person who would have such a company, but he does. After talking to him, I went and talked to one of the people that works for CEN and talked about websites and things and she basically said “i wish you could make our website!” but I told her to keep my design stuff a secret because I didn’t want to have people asking me all over the place. I just don’t have the time to take on that many projects.
After talking to her DS finally became available to talk to (people were talking to her from the minute we walked out of the lecture). DS is the professor working on the integration of the entrepreneurship websites and is the person JJ told me I should talk to about the internship for the summer. I introduced myself and told her about the internship. I have her a little bit of my background. When I told her I have been designing websites since I was in 6th grade, she actually fell back with shock. It was kind of cool to impress such a well known professor. JJ must have seen me talking to her because he came over and said “so, I see you’ve met Jenn. How’s the interview going?” DS said “it’s going really well so far! She’s sold me already!” I joked to JJ and said “I sold her at hello” (cheese…i know, but i couldn’t help it). so by the end of that, I basically have the job. It basically means me spending most of my summer here in Ithaca, but just based on the connections and the inspiration I got in the past 2 days, I think it’s definitely worthwhile. NOT TO MENTION… during JP’s lecture, someone mentioned that DS’s project is SO innovative that GOOGLE actually called HER to ask her about it. How’s THAT for a connection?! When I heard that, and I knew in the back of my head that I could be working with her for the summer, my jaw basically dropped to the ground.
In summary, 1 1/2 job offers, 2 internship offers, great connections, great inspiration, and many realizations. Based on the past 2 days I’ve developed a new philosophy about being here @ Cornell and how I plan to approach it for the next 3 years. I’ve also realized what an incredible resource I have in JJ and D. I could seriously just walk into one of their offices and say “hey, do you think you could put me in touch with so and so” and boom, that’s it! They know SO many people in so many different areas that I basically have the world in the palm of my hand. It’s an incredible feeling. By the time I’m a senior, who knows how much more incredible it will be 1, because they’ll have known me for 4 years and will be able to recommend me to their contacts, and 2, the program itself will have grown SO much that the connections I’ll have available to me will far surpass anything I could even imagine. It has been such an incredible whirlwind and really stressful week, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I feel so motivated and connected now. I’ve found my niche here and it’s a damn good one to be in.