A New Venture

Part 1: The end of junior year of college hit and I had a knot in my stomach. My time at Tulane so far had gone well. I had my grades in check, I was engaged in several on-campus organizations, and I had my schedule all set for senior year. However, like many in my position, I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated. I had realized earlier on in the year that I didn’t want to pursue medical school, which had been my plan up to that point. I didn’t have an advanced science degree so it was unlikely that I could get a job in a lab. Not knowing what to do or where to look, I decided to write out things that I had enjoyed learning and doing during college. At the top of my list was leading Trash to Treasure as a Volunteer Coordinator. This had been my favorite activity, as I loved getting to wear many hats, liked forming many on and off campus partnerships, and enjoyed the fact that hard work and hustle were rewarded. Deciding to look for jobs where any of these things that I enjoyed could be satisfied, I went to the Tulane Career Expo and had the good fortune to meet a representative from Venture for America – a two year fellowship that places recent graduates in startups across the country. I had never thought about working in a startup and the only association I had with startups was Steve Jobs building Apple in a garage. I decided to apply, and after I was accepted, realized that I still didn’t know much about startups because I had never talked to anyone closely involved with one before.


Part 2: I stared out over the sea of tables and name cards, intimidated by the number of companies but excited to speak with leaders of startups from all over the Midwest. Sitting down at my first interview with a Cleveland based company that designs software to analyze cancer genomes, I described my honors thesis work and the lab techniques that I was proficient in. They proceeded to ask me: “Tell me about a time when you had to take charge.” The question caught me off guard but I answered as best as I could. A little later, I spoke with the CEO of a company that is automating how physicians interact with insurance companies. Again when asked about myself, I gave an answer about my academics and briefly mentioned my experience with Trash to Treasure. He responded: “How do you handle situations that go totally wrong?” Again, I was caught off guard. As I continued to interview with several companies, I realized that what startups were looking for had much less to do with what I already knew but what was my attitude towards learning things that I don’t know already and are uncomfortable with.

With fellow Tulanian Anne Bevis after the job fair. With fellow Tulanian Anne Bevis after the job fair.

Part 3: This summer, I spent 5 weeks at Venture for America training camp. I learned a bit of computer coding, basic financial modeling, and web development, to name a few skills. Even more, being surrounded by incredibly talented peers from all over the country, and hearing the personal stories of the development of startups in the Providence area, I learned about how to develop and iterate on a product design, reach customers, and overcome major financial and personal obstacles. I am very grateful for Taylor for helping me to get to the job fair in Columbus, because the experience there taught me to think differently about what I could get out of training camp and what I could offer a startup organization as an employee. A couple weeks into work at a startup in Cleveland, and I’m beginning to get the hang of things. My major was neuroscience, but I’m working as a business analyst at a company called BioMotiv – a company that invests money in early stage pharmaceutical companies. I’m still practicing a lot of new financial skills, but I have been well prepared through my experiences this past year to seek opportunities to use some of the softer skills in my arsenal to add value and create positive change in the organization.

Training camp challenge team standing with our prototype supermarket kiosk
Training camp challenge team standing with our prototype supermarket kiosk