Classes, Groups & Clubs, People, Places, Student Life, Study

In Which I Converse With Student Entrepreneurs

 

My reaction to interviewing the folks at Semesterly: "You mean there are students who run this website?"

Me trying to figure out my life

Whenever I finish course selection, there is always a period of time where my thoughts drift to my future in terms of a career. It’s like an imposing deadline that inches closer when you least expect it, and as a humanities / social sciences student studying Political Science, Cinema Studies, and History, this deadline can appear menacing. Now, as a student in Political Science, Cinema Studies and History interested in a career with media production and photography, this deadline appears monstrous.

I’ve learned from various trips to professors’ office hours, the Career Centre, and long, thoughtful conversations with friends that succeeding after school, especially with my aspirations, that marketing yourself in today’s job industry is essential. Marketing, in my mind, automatically correlates with entrepreneurship – something I don’t have the space in my packed school schedule (curse you, 5 hour film blocks!) to learn from classes. However, when I struck up a chat with my friend Tsukasa (or Tsuki) who’s a third year Rotman student working as a student entrepreneur for the new U of T student founded course organizing program, Semesterly , I learned a lot about what it’s like to be a student entrepreneur.

I spoke with four students behind the program in a Skype call, three of them being from U of T: Rohan who had graduated from University of Toronto Scarborough in 2015, Felix who met Rohan in a computer science course, Tsuki, and finally Neha, the *only* girl on their team and also a coder from John Hopkins University. In my last blog post, I mentioned that I had used a series of different course organizer programs, but Semesterly was a new one created by U of T students, so I was curious to know how they started a business like this.

“How did you come together and have the idea to make something like Semesterly?” I had asked. Rohan was the first to answer. He told me that the idea came when he was on an internship with Google and wanted to make an application that would help out students when he met students from other universities and colleges who didn’t have programs like Griddy or the U of T Timetable Scheduler.

The colour codedness of Semesterly

The colour codedness of Semesterly

“But how do you muster up the dedication and keep up progress?” was my follow up question (that perhaps also could apply to my procrastination during assignments). Neha tackled this one this time.

“Progress has definitely stalled sometimes, with different school schedules and especially in the summer while people are everywhere around the world,” Tsuki, in fact, was in Japan at the time of the call. “But even though we don’t see each other, we have a common desire to see things get done.”

What I learned from the overall conversation was that entrepreneurship can happen naturally through conversation in places you haven’t lived in: Rohan had met people in a new environment (the almighty Google) who didn’t have the same access to things as a U of T student, and realized he could fill that demand with his own skills.

As U of T students, we have a lot of resources to help us out with opportunities. From countless networking events through a plethora of student societies and clubs to the Career Learning Network or Entrepreneurship @ The Career Centre, we have tools to be successful and embark on exciting business journeys like the U of T folks behind Semesterly. Did you know we have an applications lab to help students create their own mobile apps?

Look at all these hubs for innovation!

Look at all these hubs for innovation!

Even if you’re looking to join or create a startup in the sciences or engineering, check out the Impact Centre or the Hatchery.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to start a business in the tech world or the art industry. What matters is your vision – a vision to succeed, to work hard, to use the resources available to you and to meet like-minded people who share your vision. And I think that’s where I’ll start off with my own ventures.

-Albert