Connection and Self-Understanding

Main takeaways

  1. Entrepreneurship starts with validating a true “job to be done” – this step requires significant time and cannot be overlooked. This theme was especially emphasized in the I&E Capstone and Keystone classes. Through my participation in the Hult Prize, I experienced first-hand the detriment of jumping into a solution too quickly without checking core assumptions. I learned that it doesn’t matter how exciting or ground-breaking a solution may be if it ultimately does not solve a true problem. In global health settings, understanding the problem is more complex than customer discovery methods such as analyzing Google search terms or launching a social marketing campaign. For global health initiatives, you need to also take time to understand the region/location, historical/cultural background, and current solutions that have evolved from any constraints – and that requires involving local people who are invested in sustainable solutions.
  1. Entrepreneurship is a team sport. In all my classes and experiences, I worked in interdisciplinary, cross-functional teams to solve problems. Working in a team inevitably comes with challenges, but the rewards of bringing together driven people who bring different perspectives and value to the project far outweigh the obstacles.
  1. Entrepreneurship takes different forms, and does not necessarily mean starting a venture. During my time at Duke, I pitched a social entrepreneurship venture in the Hult Prize, worked in a Bass Connections team to understand considerations for implementing a global health technology, and interned at a clinical-stage biotech company that embraced the start-up company culture. Although these involvements look very different, they all developed my entrepreneurial skillset.

I&E and my Duke Experience

Overall, participating in the I&E program was one of my favorite parts of my Duke experience. I gained hands-on, practical experience in diverse team projects. I challenged myself to venture outside my comfort zone and embrace learning opportunities such as the Hult Prize, regardless of the results. And finally, I was pleasantly surprised when the concepts I learned in my classes became applied to extracurricular involvements such as Duke Impact Investing Group – I’m sure that post-graduation, I will continue drawing from I&E classes and experiences.

In terms of my I&E pathway, I proposed the “Innovation in Global Health” pathway when I first applied to the program. While I am still interested in global health, my interests have evolved to be much broader during my time at Duke. I discovered an interest in social entrepreneurship, through involvements in the Hult Prize, Design for America, and global health projects. I also became drawn toward the investing side of startups through serving as Project Manager in Duke Impact Investing Group – I learned that I love to learn about startups and meet amazing founders! Finally, I realized that I thrive in the intersection of science and business. This led me to the strategy side of biotech, where I hope to work toward bringing innovative, life-saving drugs from the bench to bedside. Overall, while healthcare is still core thread among my interests, I’ve become much more open-minded to opportunities and am excited about where they take me.