It’s no surprise that more and more college students have recently steered themselves towards starting their own companies rather than joining corporate America upon graduation. It’s already been over a decade since Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to start Facebook, which has made him worth over $52 billion as of today. Although Zuckerberg was certainly a prodigy before he started his company, and increasing amount of college students are following suit and heading down the path towards entrepreneurship. The days of seeking skills that will secure you a lifetime job of working for someone else are long gone.
A Shift in Student Goals
Derrick Maggard, the director of the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech, explains that there has been a massive shift in student goals. “Most of these students grew up during the great recession and saw their parents, maybe their grandparents or an aunt or uncle struggle and get laid off by large companies…They’re almost fearful to go into the corporate world,” Maggard claims. “They say, I don’t want that to happen to me – I want to do my own thing and control my destiny.” He elaborates that although important to have a good idea, the ability to execute an idea well is really what makes a great entrepreneur.
Advice From Other College Founders
Another successful startup founded in a college dorm room is Dyn, a tech company that optimizes the flow of data between online companies and their users. Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Dyn was founded in 2001 by Jeremy Hitchcock who was studying at Worcester Polytechnic Institute at the time. Hitchcock says, “I’d give the same advice to any university student…Go start a company or be part of something where you’re creating or building, because you’re at a time in life when you have that freedom of exploration. And do something that’s crazy, that’s non-traditional.”
Female Entrepreneurs Are No Less Talented
29-year-old Mehr Pastakia started her rooftop garden company while studying at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Baltimore. She says one of the most important lessons she learned was how to manage conflict and develop self knowledge as a leader. Although female entrepreneurs are just as talented and driven as their male counterparts it is known that they face greater challenges when it comes to equal access to capital because venture capitalists are known to invest less in female led start-ups. Hopefully the tides in this wave are turning for the better.