By Brittni Landers
Have you ever been in class and thought: “This is such a waste of time, when am I ever going to use any of this in real life?” Yeah—me too—until now, until this program. Now the answer to that question is: “always.” I will always use everything I have learned while obtaining my Certificate of Entrepreneurship from the Feliciano Center at Montclair State University.
Quick background: My team (formed during this program) NoFloe, developed and pitched our product idea: an ice and snow removal tool.
Now, if there is anything I remember from my entire college experience, it will be this 3-course, 2-semester program. In the duration of these courses, I have acquired a skill-set that is absolutely invaluable.
I have learned so much about so many different things and have developed a hunger to learn more. Because of the nature of the program—it is overwhelming to describe everything I took away. So, I have broken it down into three (nearly) all-encompassing categories.
Through the Feliciano Center, I have learned:
1. The Power of Education
I have always been aware of the importance of education, and I always did well in school. But I lacked the desire to learn more. I am now motivated to learn and understand on my own. The Feliciano Center runs a MeetUp group, Montclair Entrepreneurs, and hosts multiple events at the school. I began to take advantage and I attended several of them—by myself—willingly.
This was a step out of my comfort zone; here I was, a student, often in a room full of already-successful entrepreneurs. This is when another tool came in handy.
In the duration of the program, you step in front of your peers countless times. To pitch ideas, ask questions, give constructive criticism. Well, all of that adds up and soon you’re comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people. You become confident. Our team was dedicated to improvement. We put in, at a minimum, four extra hours a week practicing our pitch aside from the six hours of class time provided (in the last semester of the program). Public speaking is such an asset and only improves with practice.
Another highlight of the program: the Creativity Boot Camp. I never thought of myself as truly creative. And I didn’t think there was much hope because creativity can’t be taught. Oh, but it can be explored. At the beginning of the program, you are put in teams. You participate in weeks of fun, where you are consistently encouraged to think outside of the box. This boot camp helps to break down barriers between you and your peers and really allows your creative juices to flow. The more creatively you’re able to think, the more adaptable you become. The more adaptable you become, the better you are in any situation.
2. The Power of Networking
Oh, networking, such an intimidating word. Before this program, I thought of networking as a milieu of awkward, almost-forced events where several professionals gather in a room and connect with others whom they believe could benefit them.
The first class of this program, The Entrepreneurial Mindset changed my inaccurate views. Networking is so much more than an uncomfortable event and LinkedIn ( Connect with me by the way 😉 ). Networking is the interaction with other people to exchange information and develop useful contacts, but it is also an excellent opportunity to be educated.
Our professors had a speaker come in weekly to talk with us about their personal entrepreneurial ventures, their successes, and their failures. Each of these speakers brought so much value to the program. They were so motivational. Have you ever been to an event, talk, lecture, where a speaker moved you and inspired you to live your life to the fullest? That is exactly what this was, except we had the opportunity to hear one of these amazing talks EVERY SINGLE WEEK. This, by far, was one of my favorite parts of the program…their motivational words kept me running on high the entire semester. I truly looked forward to each and every class.
Each week we had the opportunity to network with one of these successful entrepreneurs. Not only were the speakers possible mentors, but they were, and are, dedicated to our success. They want to help. Because I chose to make the most of these connections, one of the speakers is now my mentor, and another my boss.
Professors really try to drill this one home. They think because they tell you networking is necessary, that you’ll take their word for it. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship takes it to the next level, they supply endless opportunities for you to build your network. And it’s not just any network, it is a worthwhile network. Think of the location of the school, its proximity to the city, and how many important people exist in that distance. They give you access to all that they can. It is up to you to take advantage of it. Which leads me to my next point. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
3. The Power of Action
The third, and probably the most important, lesson I’ve learned: it is truly persistence that will get you where you’d like to be.
It is not always knowledge, it is drive. As a procrastinator, I sometimes struggle with this.
I learned a lot about action through the prototyping process. When it came time to show everyone what our idea would be like tangibly, it was time to truly put in the work. Aside from identifying someone to help design our product, I had to find someone to help print it. (YES, we 3D-printed our prototype and it was incredibly exciting.)
The end result was pretty amazing and felt great. But, getting there…that was a struggle. You can tell from a tweet I posted during this time. I hit so many walls before I finally succeeded in finding a company who could bring our vision to life. This is when I truly learned the power of persistence.
Along with action, and persistence, comes the inevitable factor—time. Time is our one asset that we have no control over. Time is passing whether you like it or not, and it’s up to you to make the most of it.
As a commuter, I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car. I started to feel like it was a waste and became bitter about it. Until I heard about Audible. Now, I listen to motivational audiobooks in the car on my way to and from school and work. My wasted time is now productive and I LOVE it.
Each of these books serves the same purpose as the speakers in ENTR 201. They are inspiring, they keep me running on high, and they help to put my mind in the right place before I even get to where I’m going. (Side note: If you have any great books to recommend, suggest them in the comments. Thanks!!)
Another actionable skill I’ve learned in this program: prioritizing. Lists and agendas can be daunting when there is just not enough time in the day. Like I said, I have always been a procrastinator. Because I work well under pressure, I have always been able to deliver, so I never was forced to change my habit. However, all stress is not healthy stress and I have become fully aware that procrastination simply heightens my stress levels. I’ve learned to take my list, prioritize, and simply knock it out. And I get SO much more done.
Unintentionally, this post got pretty lengthy. But this is simply how I feel about the program. There is SO much to be learned in such a short amount of time, and it truly is worth it. The classes themselves are unlike any other classroom you’ve been in; they’re fully interactive and while educational—ridiculously fun.
If you’re on the edge about taking this course or going through the entire program—jump. This course brought out passion in me. I found passion in success. I would never have guessed that I would have cared so much about an ice removal tool. I was always stuck on one entrepreneurial venture. This program taught me variation in the world of startups. For every success, there are 100 failures. But, they are only true failures if you do not learn from them.
One last takeaway…
We are so used to being rewarded solely for the end result in anything and everything we do.
While it is crucial to any process to honor and celebrate results, the process itself, cannot be overlooked. True success is measured by the journey, not the end result. Which is why, as trying as it was to walk away without the $10,000 grand prize on Pitch Day — the TeleBrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs annual contest — it still felt amazing to have participated in something so great and to have developed and progressed so much in so little time. This program exceeded all of my expectations, I literally cannot recommend anything more.
Brittni Landers is a senior marketing major in the Feliciano School of Business and is currently an intern at Hudson Integrated Web Agency.