Being constantly pressured in college to come up with a socially acceptable answer about what your plans are when you graduate is difficult; especially when you want to be an entrepreneur. Pursuing entrepreneurship is risky, maybe even riskier than entering the unstable job market. For me, I was happier accepting the risk of putting everything I have into starting a business than putting the fate of my career in someone else’s hands by applying to hundreds of jobs just hoping I’d get a few interviews.
Considering what society says you ought to be pursuing, versus what you really want to be doing, and then comparing those motives to reality is one of the most eye opening meditative processes I’ve ever put myself through, and I’d recommend that all young professionals take a moment to take themselves through that thought process. For a long time, my brain was wired to have career aspirations that represented the norm in our country; find a company to intern for that will offer me a salary job when I graduate, work my way my up at that company, and in 30 years I'd retire. As a millennial, this career model is shifting to make for bouncing around at different companies over the course of your career, but I just could not imagine working for someone else for the rest of my life.
College is the best time to start a business, and here’s why:
1. You have access to beneficial resources associated with your college/university. Most college campuses have Career Centers with a list of alumni contacts. There’s always someone out there who’s already done what you’re doing, so reach out to any alumni who work in areas similar to your interests. They will be able to give you helpful advice.
2. College provides a 'safety net', whether that be financial, or just the mental security net of knowing you have something to fall back on with your degree when you graduate. I used a student loan to fund my first business. It’s a lot easier to take out a little extra money in student loans than it is to get a loan from a bank. I’m not saying I completely recommend using student loans to fund your businesses. If you have other ways to get money that don’t involve debt take advantage of those options first.
3. You will have community support, simply because you are a student. Seasoned professionals love to talk with and support young people pursuing great things. Increase your network of support by attending networking events, and take advantage of opportunities to meet new people in your community.
I say all of this to encourage women in college to take a leap of faith in pursuit of what you are passionate about. Being in college, you have absolutely nothing to lose; your career isn’t on the line because you haven’t entered the workforce yet. Eliminate any doubt in your mind that things might not work out, and get your plan down on paper. Make calculated risks, and be confident in your abilities. If your dream is to be an entrepreneur, today is the day to make it happen!