Last week I wrote about the various funding opportunities available at the university to assist you in getting your ideas some financial support. This week I’d like to share my own experiences in turning an idea into a reality, offering some advice (in the form of an AWESOME acronym, bonus points to those who figure it out) along the way.
A couple years ago a friend and I were sitting in Professor Clifford Orwin’s POL200 class when we stroke up a conversation regarding academic journals and the lack of visible opportunities for students to get their undergraduate work featured at the university in a public manner (the day’s class was on Aristotle’s Politics or something, I don’t know). Needless to say we both thought that there was something missing at the university and that someone should fill this void. It was soon apparent that we could be the ones to take up this initiative (I mean why not us!?). This is my first note of advice: Inspiration. The best projects are the ones that have a good idea behind them, the ones that contribute something to university life that isn’t readily available otherwise. In my case it resulted in the creation of HUMANITAS: Victoria University’s Undergraduate Journal for the Humanities.
So you have your idea – now what? Well, this is where the hard work comes in: refinement of your idea and beginning the process of turning it into a reality. There are numerous options available at the university for students to assist in this process (including the funding initiatives I wrote about last week). The type of idea you have will obviously determine the type of ‘institutionalization’ you seek for it (is your idea for a one-time thing or something more along the lines of a permanent club or group? Will it operate university-wide or be more focused at the College level? These are the questions you have to ask yourself.). For students who are unaware about the processes involved in integrating their idea into the university this undertaking can be a bit daunting. For example, the first proposal HUMANITAS made for funding was rejected, which forced us to rethink our strategy. To see your idea become a reality requires a certain amount of Determination in learning about the processes involved and in not backing down in the face of obstacles or rejection. If you believe enough in your idea you have to keep pursuing it, don’t let start-up hiccups stop you!
…into this wasn’t easy but has been one of my most rewarding experiences at the U of T.
OK now let’s assume you’ve learned the ropes and got the funding for your idea and you’ve begun the process of implementing it. But wait!! You suddenly realize the process might be a little bit more work than you initially thought… how can you devote time to your idea when you’ve got 2 midterm tests and an assignment due in the next 4 weeks!? The key at this stage is to remain Engaged with your idea and to not lose focus. I have seen too many good ideas go to waste as students simply fall out of touch with their project, getting wrapped up in the regular business of life. To be sure, devote your attention to where it is needed most, but ample planning, scheduling, and prioritization can reveal to you some time you may not have known you had, time you can spend working on and enhancing your project.
Finally, any idea you have has to be Accessible to other students in order for it to be successful. Your idea will hopefully contribute something to the university community in a unique and meaningful way and in order to do so you have to do your best to make sure students a) know about whatever thing your organizing, and b) will be able to actually attend/enjoy it. Plan accordingly and smartly!
So there you have it folks! A brief how-to guide in making your idea a reality! This is in no way a comprehensive outline of all the processes involved but it is a good framework of what you should expect! Remember, your Inspired idea will be sustained through personal Determination to learn the ropes of how to go about implementing it. Remain Engaged with your project, even when things get busy, and be sure to make it as Accessible as possible!