My Week in ESTEEM: January 28 - February 3

Author: Gbemisola Okunzua

Gbemisola OkunzuaGbemisola Okunzua

Hmm, where to start? This week was filled with lots of meetings, ESTEEM hangouts, and...snow. Grab a seat and some hot chocolate (or coffee, whatever floats your boat) cause it’s gonna be a “cool” read.

MONDAY: I walk into ESTEEM’s web development class huffing and puffing after the 20 minute walk from my apartment, battling the evil forces of snow and wind. After I fully recover, I meet with a classmate who offered to help me with some aspects of my thesis. [Aside: this is one of the reasons why I truly love this program - the people are genuinely kind and supportive] Class begins, I head to my seat at the front of class, and turn my full attention to the speakers. Web Development is one of my favorite classes this semester. Not only are we being taught by professionals in this field, but they make sure to include real examples, demonstrations, and class activities (where my kinesthetic learners at?). I head out to lunch with a friend because work hard, play hard is my life motto. Oh, and did I mention the email that came in during class announcing school’s cancellation on Wednesday due to freezing temperatures!

At 6:30 PM, I’m heading out of our Launch Strategy class with my roommate. My head is spinning with the vast amount of knowledge I just took in and fast approaching deadlines! Regardless of the mounting pressure, I’m excited to dig into the financial aspect of my thesis. Afterall, I didn’t come here to play games!

TUESDAY: I’m frantically writing down notes while listening to our professor talk about the Dos and Don’t of raising money from venture capitalists. He’s an experienced VC so I’m taking his words with way more than a grain of salt. One major thing I’ve learned from this class so far (and which has been echoed by other professional speakers throughout the year) is the importance of the Team in a startup. Teams make or break the business, not the cash flow, the customers, or whatever else there is. Of course, the follow-up question I always have is “how do I know good team members?” I’ve never really gotten a straightforward answer before...I guess it’s just something I’ll have to learn through experience as well as instinct.

Class is over and so is school for the next day and a half. I and three other ESTEEMers head to the car of a classmate who so graciously offered to drop us off at Fischer Graduate Residences. I enter my apartment and prep for my group meeting for the McCloskey Competition. We’ll be discussing our business plan. The meeting was supposed to be in-person, but due to the weather, we made it a zoom meeting cause entrepreneurs overcome obstacles even when it’s in the form of - 30 degrees.

WEDNESDAY: I’m going to bed very proud of myself, I was so productive today! Trust me, It helps to get work done when you have thermal wear, a snug blanket, and 24 hours access to hot chocolate.

THURSDAY: “ We can use customer testimonials as part of our emotional benefit”. My group and I are brainstorming both rational and emotional benefits of an example product during a class activity in Product Development. [Aside: To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of group projects as an undergrad, but I genuinely appreciate them more at ESTEEM. I actually learn a lot from listening to my classmates. E.g. One of the guys is my group has worked for an accelerator before and the other one started a lip balm business in high school for charity. I’d say they know a thing or two...]

Picture this - 7:30 PM, a large bowl of spaghetti, homemade pasta sauce and garlic bread, pesto sauce, brownies, King cake, chocolate chips cookies...need I say more ? I’m at the ESTEEM ladies get together (Shout out to Emily and Katie for hosting us!). I’m sitting on the couch with three ESTEEMers on either side of me. Others are sitting on the floor around the table. We’re discussing upcoming deadlines, The Bachelor, the difference between Nigerian, Hungarian, and Canadian culture, the Spring Break trip to Cali, etcetera, etcetera. I’m having a lot of fun, I hope we do this again! No pressure or anything... Emily and Katie *clears throat*

FRIDAY: I’ve had two meetings, one thesis call, and another call coming up. This is definitely the busiest day of the week so far. Our class schedule is pretty flexible, but I do like that we don’t have classes on Fridays. Personally, I use it as a time to catch up on things I didn’t get done earlier in the week.

MONDAY: First things first, the weather’s great. I guess no battles this week. I’m hurrying to my meeting taking place in 5 minutes. Then I’ll have my Web Tools class which I’m always pumped for, a bunch of meetings, a Financial Workshop given by a professional with years of experience, and finally, Launch Strategy class. The day’s packed, but without sounding too cliche, I wouldn’t have it any other way.