By Natalie Butz
I have a deep admiration for every student featured in The Elm’s “College Entrepreneurs” article this week. Despite a dismal economy, these students are carving their own place in the world and finding out how to make a living doing something that they’re passionate about. It’s pretty daunting for me as a senior about to embark on a job search because every time I turn on the news, the message seems to be the same: the economy is bad, it’s not getting better, and companies are looking to lay off, not hire. But these students’ stories give me hope.
I think these entrepreneurs’ stories have lessons for students, staff, professors, and administrators alike. They are creating their own opportunities. Not only that, Taylor, Shannon, and Leland all demonstrate the power of the human imagination. Technology may outsource jobs, but the one thing it will never replace is innovative ideas.
It’s something I think we all should consider as we face a job market where traditional positions are being outsourced/consolidated. Taylor, Shannon, and Leland are living proof that you can take a simple idea and actually earn a living off of it. And if you think their businesses are just small, grass-roots organizations that don’t have the potential to grow and be sustainable, think again.
As noted in the article, Taylor has already been featured on “The Today Show” and “Atlanta Fox 5,” Leland’s Theme Lab website gets about 3,000 hits a day, his @ThemeLab Twitter account has 4,000 followers, and he has written for or been featured in “Smashing Magazine,” “WP Candy” and “Mashable”, among others. Shannon has been able to book 6 photo shoots in the next two weeks—just by word of mouth and putting her pictures on Facebook.
I hope college won’t be the best years of our lives, but I’d like to think that some of our best ideas are realized here. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but maybe the benefit of a country in financial turmoil is it forces us to get creative. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking and maybe it’s not. After all, many aspects of the Mac’s sleek design were born in a calligraphy course Steve Jobs took at Reed College. Mark Zuckerberg launched the original Facebook out of his dorm room at Harvard.
Then again, ask me how optimistic I am six months after graduation.