I decided to pursue the I&E certificate because I have strong interests in business, marketing and entrepreneurship. I also learn by doing. Since Duke didn’t have a business major, I&E was a lovely fit for me because I was able to to take what I learnt in the classes and apply them directly to my venture, LAJA
A lot of the classes appealed to me because they ranged from a variety of topics from “Building a Sustainable Enterprise” to “Arts Entrepreneurship”. I came into the program having started LAJA so getting direct feedback on my business while learning how to be a more effective business owner was simply delightful. I have fostered great relationships with my professors with some serving as mentors while being successful entrepreneurs themselves. Learning first hand about their experiences (good and bad) is what appeals to me most about the program.
I hope to acquire the basics of recognizing opportunity, validating an idea and testing a market. My biggest goal is to learn to work smarter not harder and maximize the resources I have. I’ve made numerous unavoidable mistakes in my journey simply because I was not aware of alternatives. It’s a continuous learning process so no complaints !
My takeaway from the I&E certificate is the importance of consistently learning about anything and everything. I learnt not to fear failure because it isn’t a bad thing- it’s simply a learning lesson. Failure is inevitable in the path to entrepreneurship and having this knowledge caused me to pursue opportunities I might not have otherwise. I’m not perfect yet but for as long as I remember, I never handled failure well. I dreaded it and rather than making it about the learning lesson, I’d make it about myself and my capabilities. I’ve come a long way in separating my self worth from my accomplishments and failures. The I&E professors always stressed the importance of learning over “playing” to get the best grades.
I have also learnt the importance of consistency. I was able to meet and hear the stories of great entrepreneurs from Peter Thiel down to small business owners in Durham. A common attribute amongst them was the power of consistency and persistence. I have learnt that passion is absolutely critical in pursuing a goal but discipline is what gets you there. Passion comes and goes but discipline keeps pushing through good and bad times. I am gradually adopting this mindset with my venture, LAJA.
Lastly, my biggest progress is beginning to sell my designs. In my first I&E class my sophomore year, I remember telling my professor how I’d love to start selling African print apparel. He encouraged me after seeing the progress I had made with my blog. Fast forward till today as a senior, I released a second collection and have a prestigious African merchandise boutique carrying my items. It’s crazy how much happens in three years and I’m grateful for the support + knowledge the I&E certificate has provided.
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