I usually try to start my week with the most creative work I need to do. This is usually centered around my Capstone Project, in which I’m working with Avanade, a consultancy on developing a comprehensive Data Strategy. I have my Fall Presentation defense on Thursday, so most of my time on Monday is spent on pulling together the different aspects of the project into a deck for Thursday. On Monday evening, we have our Business Law and Entrepreneurial Finance classes, which give us a good insight into the skills needed for starting and running a company.
Tuesday & Wednesday
I’m also a Venture Coach with the IDEA Center; this job involves advising 8 Student Entrepreneurs as they develop their ideas into a business with customers and traction. I recently started having my Venture Coach meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. My job with the IDEA Center is probably one of my favorite parts of the ESTEEM program, because there’s such a variety of ideas and people I work with. I previously ran a business so it’s very interesting to see that the challenges I experienced at the start, like finding my target customer, insuring my marketing projected the right image of the company, the logistics of selling around the world, and trying to get investment are all problems faced by many entrepreneurs in their journey.
On Tuesday morning, I have my Technical Elective class, which is Data Analysis with Python. I have a big interest in data analytics, and have always wanted to learn coding, and it is probably one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taken in college. We’re currently preparing to start understanding Machine Learning, which is increasingly being utilized by companies to improve their efficiency and data analysis.
On Tuesday afternoon, we start our Corporate Innovation class. This class is taught by Professor Mike Betchel, who is an advisor in Deloitte and has extensive experience in Venture Capital, Consulting and Entrepreneurship. Since a lot of ESTEEM graduates take jobs in large companies, where our combination of technical knowledge and business strategy is put to good use, this class focuses on intrapreneurship in large companies. It’s a really interesting class, and one that I’m looking forward to continuing.
After my elective, I go for a run around campus. I usually put on a podcast (Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman, and How I Built This are two of my favorites), and run for a couple of miles. Running around campus has helped me get my bearings, because the campus is so big that you could easily not see a lot of the facilities on campus. My favorite part of campus to run around is the 2 lakes on campus.
After my run, my meetings with Student Entrepreneurs continue. I think a huge benefit of ESTEEM so far has been learning how to juggle many different things at the same time - you’re highly encouraged to take on a variety of projects, so learning how to batch my time so I have more time for “deep work” has been incredibly beneficial. Most of Wednesday is split between working on my Capstone Presentation, and my Venture Coach work. It’s a long day, but I feel good at the end of it. I make sure I get an early night so I’m well rested and alert for any questions I might get in my presentation.
On Thursday morning, I’m well aware it’s going to be a very busy day, so I pack 2 lunches. I have my Data Analysis with Python class in the morning, and after that I head straight to Innovation Park to get set up for my presentation and run through a few final details. I usually leave some time to relax before presentation, so I spend some time purposely doing nothing so I’m well focused starting out. Finally, the time has come to do my presentation; 4 people dial into the call including my 2 Advisors in Avanade, as well as 2 other people that I met when I visited the company HQ in Seattle in October. The presentation goes really well, and my preparation is well appreciated. A few questions later, and I’m all done.
I have a bit of time to do some work and help 2 of my friends in ESTEEM who are preparing for the C-prize, a competition where you pitch ideas around Sustainability for the chance to get $10,000 in funding. Then it’s straight into a Graduate Student Union meeting - I’m one of the 2 class representatives for ESTEEM, so our job is to ensure any problems students are facing are well addressed. Luckily, the ESTEEM staff are very responsive and open to feedback, so our job is made pretty easy. After this, it’s time to head home and get some dinner and watch some of The Office - a perfect wind down after a busy day.
Friday is probably one of the most interesting days of my week. In the morning, I’m up early for a call with a Google employee. I have an interview for Associate Product Manager coming up in 2 weeks, so I want to be well prepared. After the call, it’s straight into a coffee session with Dr. Kevin Tracey, who is a neurosurgeon, inventor, and the President and CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. He also holds a list of other jobs - too many to list them all here. He gives an incredible talk about innovation and the rate of adoption for inventions. Even for people like myself, who don’t see themselves working in healthcare, are engrossed for the talk and Q&A.
On the Friday before every home game, the IDEA Center holds Innovation Rallies, in which successful entrepreneurs share their stories and advice. This week however, the 8 Irish ESTEEM students are invited to lunch with Enda Kenny, the Former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Daniel Mulhall, the Irish Ambassador to the US, Professor Katy Hayward and Professor Gary Murphy, and Consul General of Chicago Brian O'Brien. It’s a bit surreal to be sitting down with the Former Taoiseach of Ireland, who is very interested in getting our views on how Ireland can compete on an International scale in Entrepreneurship. It’s a fantastic discussion, and we all come away from the talk in high spirits.
After this, we head into Venture Coach pitches, in which the Student Entrepreneurs we are mentoring pitch their ideas for funding. Two of my Student Entrepreneurs are pitching for funding, so it’s particularly exciting for me. I have to leave the pitches early to attend a panel discussion by Enda Kenny, Ambassador Mulhall and Professor Katy Hayward titled “Ireland at the Crossroads”. Among other things, Brexit and Ireland’s close ties with the United States are discussed.
After the talk, we head for some refreshments and networking, and get talking to some very interesting people. The week has been very busy, but extremely interesting, and we still have the Notre Dame vs. Boston College game to look forward to.