Enterprising Leadership

Small but beautiful.

Creating ripples.

Get ready, go, get set.

These phrases were repeated over and over again throughout my semester in Enterprising Leadership. Enterprising Leadership, a service-learning seminar course for seniors, was described to me as a course that teaches you about yourself. My seventeen classmates and I, all from different academic and life paths, spent our last fall at Duke discussing moral leadership, our identities and values, and how we can create benefit for others at and after Duke.

I originally signed up for this course because of what I heard about it from others. Consistently ranked as one of the must-take classes at Duke, Enterprising Leadership is known for being a class that allows you to reflect on your time at Duke and how you want to use it in the “real world”. After the first class, I realized how fitting this course would be for my Innovation & Entrepreneurship path. My entire Duke career has been about synthesizing and niche-building. I pursued an unconventional course of study through psychology and computer science, using I&E to tie the two together. Here, I used Enterprising Leadership to bring together my certificate coursework in social media and analyzing value in ventures with my experiences with companies that work to create benefit through technology. This course was more focused on me—as a builder, an entrepreneur, and a teammate—than on cases and companies, like my other certificate coursework, making it a strong balance for my experience and a great addition to the overall path.

Throughout the course, we built a framework for understanding ourselves, how our pasts shape us as leaders, and how to put leadership into action, rather than onto a resume. We applied everything we read and learned from alumni speakers to our service-learning projects. I worked with Rewriting the Code (RTC), a nonprofit dedicated to getting more women into tech and supporting them in technical careers. I worked with another student to help RTC develop a social media marketing plan that appealed to its 2000+ members and its corporate partners and donors. Here, I really put the phrases above into practice. We started the project with a focus on creating an all-encompassing strategy in one go. We wanted to use our marketing experience to the best of our ability, and in our eagerness, tried to create a one-size-fits-all solution to a very unique organization. We talked to our clients at RTC, regrouped, and were able to create “small but beautiful” impact for the organization. Once we established the foundation of our strategy, this rippled—we were able to find platforms that would make our work sustainable after the semester ended and develop templates for future marketing efforts. My experiences with RTC echoed what I’ve learned about iteration and lean business—what our professor called “get ready, go, get set”—that you have to try things out before you have all the answers, and build further solutions on what you learn as a result.

 

One major component of this course was a Leadership Map, a long-form paper about my past and how it shaped me as a leader today. We wrote two-page versions of these maps at the beginning of the semester, and I’ve linked mine here. It’s fascinating to read about the goals, questions, and areas for self-improvement I identified less than a year ago and to see how far I’ve come—from being deliberate with punctuality to fully committing to self-care and mental wellness, I’ve been able to better equip myself to answer the questions I have and continue to ask myself as a student, leader, and businesswoman.