Senior Prepared to Launch After Graduation
This is definitely not the final year of college that Nick Sischo thought he would have when he started his senior year last fall. Nick will soon be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Technology and Management from the College of Natural Resources and a minor in Computer Science. Already working for a Raleigh startup, Nick was well-prepared to transition to the professional world, but also planned to finish his year in Innovation Hall in the Albright Entrepreneurs Village, where he is a mentor to other villagers with an entrepreneurial mindset. All that changed in March, as he packed his room and moved out of Innovation Hall with most other villagers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with moving off-campus, Nick continues to mentor and make an impact with his peers. Haley Huie, Director of Experiential Learning for the Entrepreneurship Garage and the Albright Entrepreneurs Village, has known Nick for years and says, “Nick has been an amazing addition to our program and our community. His enthusiasm for building ventures and having fun is infectious. His residents love him (and are known to make food for him!), and we’ve benefitted from his service as a student mentor within our community.”
“Nick has really expanded his network, his skills and honed his leadership skills within the AEV since he got his start at Make-A-Thon. He’s been a tremendous asset to our entrepreneurship ecosystem, and we’ll miss him as he transitions off-campus to focus on his work at a startup,” said Huie.
We virtually sat down with Nick to learn how his last semester is unfolding and the adjustments he has had to make due to the pandemic and living off-campus.
Nick, where is your hometown? Where are you living now that you have moved off-campus?
My hometown is Manlius, NY. After I moved out of the Albright Entrepreneurs Village, I moved to NE Raleigh and will continue to post-graduation, as I have a job in the Raleigh Startup Scene.
Tell us about your job after graduation.
I do have a job lined up post-graduation at Qlair, working out of Loading Dock Raleigh, as a data scientist, doing machine learning for remote sensor applications. Specifically, I really enjoy working in the startup space and will continue to post-graduation.
Tell us about yourself and what interests you and what do you hope to achieve?
I am a founder, a developer, an engi-preneur. My interests lie in IoT, remote sensor, and monitoring technologies, and I have a hidden passion for all things food. My current foray is into fermented food items, including brewing my own beer, Kimchi, and more.
Professionally, I have a considerable amount of software development skills, and I am confident in my abilities to use it to the best of my capabilities in the jobs that I hold. I enjoy working in new technologies and finding novel ways to apply new technologies to old businesses, to innovate.
In the future, I would enjoy founding my own environmental services/ technology company, with the flagship product being what I had worked on previously; ‘smart-routing’ for waste management.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you and what experience have you had related to it?
Entrepreneurship is a thought framework. It is a way of approaching problems with a specific lens, and dissecting the problem to find ways to solve the problem. In essence, like any critical thinking framework, entrepreneurship is about breaking down a problem into its constituent parts and solving them individually. However, different from other thinking frameworks, entrepreneurship is about exploring new ways of doing things and finding the inefficiencies in old business models. By considering the problem as a way to find a novel solution, the entrepreneurship thinking model is about emphasizing changes in approach, to build a structural solution that differs from its peers.
Tell us about your involvement with NC State Entrepreneurship programs or a personal venture?
I have had significant involvement in NC State Entrepreneurship programs during my time at State. My freshman year, I immediately enrolled in the eGarage program and that began my introduction to all the resources, and the program itself. Thus began my participation in all major Entrepreneurship events, from Wolf Den, Make-A-Thon, LuLu eGames, and more. It was during this time that I founded my own startup, Trashr.io. Trashr ultimately failed, but it was entirely a learning experience, and I am entirely glad that I took the leap, and founded my first real company.
I’ve also had exposure to many different opportunities through my connections to entrepreneurship, such as speaking at the College of Engineering Alumni Association Event, MC’ing several different student engagement events, and other opportunities as well.
I am an Albright Entrepreneur Village mentor, and also an NC State Entrepreneurship Scholar as well. My campus activities during college have been entirely focused on entrepreneurship. No other campus activity or organization has captured my interest and my effort so much as NC State Entrepreneurship.
How have you had to pivot or think differently about your educational experience during the current pandemic?
I have definitely had to change my thinking about my educational experience during our movement to Zoom university. Not only have I had to establish a permanent workspace at my new place of residence (getting removed from on-campus housing) but also to establish the headspace of no longer being able to visit libraries or coffee shops to maintain a high productivity environment. That being said, I feel as though remote instruction has seen a resurgence, and will be much more socially palatable in the future. There are already online universities out there, but now you may see the adoption of programs like the online-only Jenkins MBA from Poole College of Management. Additionally, that means that for my future, I might want to consider such a program for my master’s as well.
What advice would you give an incoming freshman? How would you encourage them to make an impact?
Seek out resources. If I hadn’t joined the makerspace program within the first week of classes and being on campus, I may not have learned about NC State Entrepreneurship in general, or the student engagement events, such as Make-A-Thon, which really jump started my path down NC State Entrepreneurship. My advice to freshmen is to participate in those events. Even if you don’t have a team or a group to compete with, joining another team and getting the experience is always important.
What are your favorite places on campus?My favorite place on campus is the new Entrepreneurship Garage space on campus. I love the makerspace, and working on prototypes in the High Bay area. Truly a magnificent part of being part of NC State Entrepreneurship. It’s a great place to be, whether it’s to have a coffee meetup, or to grind out a new prototype.
Nick, is there anything else you would like to add?
NC State Entrepreneurship changed me. When I came to State, I wanted to major in computer science, get a corporate CS job, and work in the tech industry. NC State Entrepreneurship showed me the ability to create my own path, and that I had the qualifications and capability to go my own way. NC State Entrepreneurship was fundamental to changing the way I looked at my educational experience and instrumental in allowing me to build the confidence I have in the person I am today. It has led to my inherent sense of value and self-worth. No other aspect of my college experience had the same impact. Not my classes, not my lab experiences. The highest impact courses I took were the entrepreneurship-related ones. The campus experiences and events? Above and beyond, the best I’ve ever attended, and the most relatable and helpful for career development.