Choose Your Friends Wisely

OK, OK, I get it. This age-old wisdom is something we’ve all heard a million times, and there’s value in having friends of all types. But is there more to it? Co-living presents a unique opportunity to diversify your social portfolio.

Students in the living & learning villages around NC State’s campus have seen higher GPAs and are engaged in high-impact activities. Sure, our students in the Albright Entrepreneurs Village have taken part in community service, networking activities and even toured NYC and Silicon Valley as a part of their AEV experience.

My guess, however, is that they’re also in it for the valuable connections.

This group of inventors, problem solvers and creators of ideas and solutions has its own reason for being: a sense of community. Inc. magazine points to a growing movement to give aspiring entrepreneurs a “place”. Co-living opportunities have grown in major markets like Silicon Valley and NYC — and the Triangle is no exception.

The idea of an “intentional” community, or folks with similar interests, happens organically all the time. But what happens when you build a full year of incredible experiences around a topic like e-ship? I’ve seen crazy growth in the people, skills and ideas in the year and a half that I’ve been in my role.

“It’s fun to just sit down and talk to people about their ideas and what they’re working on. I want to know what they’re going through,” said Shawn Womble, a junior in Textile Technology and AEV resident.

Perhaps surrounding yourself with those who want to explore ideas and build things together can be that extra “push” to just create something. Not perfection, but working on building a social network with in-house accountability partners might help you along with your next big project.

Opportunities are out there for recent grads, too! ThinkHouse in downtown Raleigh hosts recent college graduates who are working on building ventures.

Moaad Benkaraache, an EI alumnus and Co-founder of Trakex, whose company provides dimensioning hardware to dramatically reduce shipping costs for customers, made the choice to join ThinkHouse as a 2016 – 2017 fellow. His experience has led him to mentorship and resources to support the growing venture — but a big part of the value comes from the proximity to other entrepreneurs who provide built-in accountability to make progress each week, he says.

One other big advantage of the NC State e-ship village is that you don’t have to come to the group with an idea already fleshed out. You might be looking to join a team, or just learn more about entrepreneurship. Inspiration comes from everyday collisions with other people and ideas — so surround yourself with opportunities to do something that you’re passionate about.

“Don’t think you have to come here with an exact plan or idea, or even a company or a trademark set up. The Village helps you get to that point,” Jasmine Jones, an alumna in Fashion and Textile Management ‘16, said. “Take advantage of the opportunity and try it out anyway. You’re around like-minded people that are innovative.”

Check out the AEV site to learn more about opportunities for involvement or how you can choose your friends wisely for the 2017 – 2018 year at

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