GUEST POST BY NIA STROTHERS
Being constantly pressured in college to come up with a socially acceptable answer about what your plans are when you graduate is difficult, especially when you want to be an entrepreneur. Pursuing entrepreneurship is risky, maybe even riskier than entering the unstable job market. For me, I am happier accepting the risk of putting everything I have into starting a business than putting the fate of my career in someone else’s hands by applying to hundreds of jobs just hoping I’ll get a few interviews.
Considering what society says you ought to be pursuing, versus what you really want to be doing, and then comparing those motives to reality is one of the most eye opening meditative processes I’ve ever put myself through. I recommend that all young professionals take a moment to take themselves through that thought process.
For a long time, my brain was wired to have career aspirations that represented the norm in our country: find a company to intern for that will offer me a salary job when I graduate, work my way my up at that company, and retire in 30 years. As a millennial, this career model is shifting to make for bouncing around at different companies over the course of your career.
I just could not imagine working for someone else for the rest of my life.
During my senior year of college, I was working an internship that I liked, but I just wasn’t being challenged. Day in and day out, I was doing the same administrative tasks. My dream has always been to work for myself, so I started thinking about skills I had to offer that could generate income. I was really great with social media, I had experience running digital ads, and I was very creative. Finally it came to me; I decided to start a digital marketing company. At that point, I was just halfway through my senior year, so I knew I had about 4 months to get the ball rolling.
Honestly, I couldn’t have picked a better time to kick-start my entrepreneurial dreams.
COLLEGE IS A PRIME TIME TO START A BUSINESS, AND HERE'S WHY:
1. You have access to extremely beneficial resources associated with your college/university.
Most college campuses have Career Centers with a list of alumni contacts. There’s always someone out there who’s already done what you’re doing, so reach out to any alumni who work in areas similar to your interests. They will be able to give you helpful advice.
2. College provides a "safety net."
Whether that be financial, or just the mental security net of knowing you have something to fall back on with your degree when you graduate. I used a student loan to fund my first business. It’s a lot easier to take out a little extra money in student loans than it is to get a loan from a bank. I’m not saying I completely recommend using student loans to fund your businesses. If you have other ways to get money that don’t involve debt, take advantage of those options first.
3. You will have community support, simply because you are a student.
Seasoned professionals love to talk with and support young people pursuing great things. Increase your network of support by attending networking events and take advantage of opportunities to meet new people in your community.
I say this to encourage women in college to take a leap of faith in pursuit of what you are passionate about.
Being in college, you have absolutely nothing to lose; your career isn’t on the line because you haven’t entered the workforce yet. Eliminate any doubt in your mind that things might not work out and get your plan down on paper. Make calculated risks and be confident in your abilities. If your dream is to be an entrepreneur, today is the day to make it happen!
DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO TELL? ADVICE TO SHARE? WISDOM TO IMPART?
Nia Strothers is a Senior, Communication major at the College of Charleston. She is a Cosmetologist by trade, specializing in hair extensions and wig making. Nia owns an online hair extension boutique, called Reflections Hair Boutique. She recently founded Social Savvy, a digital marketing company based in Charleston, South Carolina that helps small businesses effective manage their online presence and increase brand awareness. Nia is passionate about entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses. In her spare time, she volunteers with the American Cancer Society as a Look Good Feel Better volunteer, traveling to hospitals in the Charleston area to facilitate beauty classes for ladies undergoing chemotherapy.