This is a guest post by Entrepreneurship Student Ambassador, Cedric Clyburn. Cedric is a sophomore studying Computer Science with a minor in Business Entrepreneurship.
I had only been at NC State University for a few weeks before I pitched at our annual entrepreneurship festival, Entrepalooza, in front of hundreds of students, faculty, and alumni. To be honest, I had little idea of what was happening, I just knew I had 60-seconds to deliver the best pitch I could give! While I wasn’t the grand prize winner that year, I came back with something more important, a connection and experience that’s bonded me to NC State Entrepreneurship since. Being involved has taught me three principles that have helped me become a better entrepreneur, student, and person.
Never be afraid to make a new connection
Being at such a large university can sometimes be overwhelming! Listen, I came from a smaller town in North Carolina, and at first, it was a huge shock to me that so many diverse students from different backgrounds could be at the same place together. However, that’s one of the most incredible things that a college education does for you! Being able to reach out to new people for friendship and potentially creating a startup is a powerful tool. While COVID-19 has changed our culture in many different ways, I believe it’s made networking almost easier in a way. Instead of having to get up, drive, and grab a coffee (where half of my spending was last year), you can simply connect via Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meet, and other great communication tools. We’ve transitioned to an era where reaching out to new people is practical, and starting your first conversation is easier than ever!
Failure is a better teacher than success
There’s nothing more I believe in life than how failure can teach you endlessly more than success will. In fact, some of the greatest accomplishments in my life that have given me inspiration and wisdom all result from failing! The Entrepalooza pitch that lost allowed me to meet incredible upperclassmen students who saw my passion and offered mentorship as well as incredible connections. When I failed my first ECE class, I learned what my true passion was and switched to computer science, a decision that has given me a love for technology enablement at companies like Red Hat and Kaleido! In unprecedented times like these during a global pandemic, rest easy knowing that your mistakes are all a part of the process, and the growth is what’s priceless.
Believe in yourself
From the outside looking in, the entrepreneurship scene looks exciting, fast-paced, and full of surprises! While that is true, it’s also one of the most difficult pathways one can choose due to factors such as motivation and money.
The most important idea I can pass along to current entrepreneurs and future innovators is this: Believe in yourself. Nobody knows your work or startup better than you, and that’s one of the few advantages you have in a clustered market. Let that shine throughout your work, and allow yourself some credit where credit is due! Remember, you’re always going to be your biggest cheerleader!
Entrepreneurship is the hardest and most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced, and has shaped me into a better person both professionally and personally! While there’s always failure and difficult moments, remember that you’re creating something that has the ability to be bigger than yourself and create a legacy. Take advantage of all the opportunities offered by NC State Entrepreneurship, as being a student gives you more leverage and perks than you’ll have anywhere else. Whether you’re a student, faculty, or alumni, you have the ability to change the world, and it all starts with you taking that first step.