My Week in ESTEEM: October 15-21

Author: Connor Smith

Connor SmithConnor Smith

Fall break: the two words that 45 ESTEEM students, including myself, have been looking forward to for weeks. The two words that signify a one week break and things finally settling down after a start to the semester that has felt like sprinting a marathon.Yet, while the week off from class was enjoyable, I was continuously reminded that there are no true breaks in the entrepreneurial life, just momentary pauses.


As Monday morning rolled around, I found myself up and at it again to my weekly team meeting with my thesis sponsor. While I imagine many people would have a disdain for Morning meetings, these meetings between myself and the other three members of Consensus Networks start every week off on a high note for me. This small team that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of while conducting my thesis and I meet every Monday morning at 8 to discuss what action items we have for the week and the goals we are working towards. I’ve learned how busy every week in an early stage startup like Consensus Networks is and this one was no different. We are in the process of applying for a few grants through different U.S government agencies, one of which I have taken the lead on. I can’t say that I envisioned myself jumping head first into the world of grant writing in my first few months in ESTEEM, but, as they say, you have to wear many hats in a startup. Certainly this has been one of the most challenging tasks I have undertaken so far, but it has also been one of the most rewarding. I can see the proposal coming to life more and more with each iteration and revision, and it has pushed me to learn a new art in grant writing.


While the majority of my week was spent revising and getting assistance on this grant through the “grant writing boot camp” put on by the graduate school, fall break was also a time of reflection. I was fortunate enough to spend the last weekend of the break working remotely and recruiting for ESTEEM at my alma mater, Wabash College. This was the first time I was able to return to campus since my graduation last May, and it was a true joy to be able to go back and see some of the friends and faculty who I had come to view as family for the past four years. Seeing as this was the first little breath I had been able to take this semester, it seemed like an apt time to reflect on where I was a year ago, in the shoes of my Wabash senior year self, and where I am now.


At this time last year I had just found out that I was accepted into ESTEEM and was wondering what the next year was going to bring. I had found myself asking ESTEEM students from the class of 2018 the same questions that prospective students were asking me as they try to figure out what life post-undergrad will be like. It was surreal to realize that a year had already passed since I was in their shoes, and I had many of the same questions looming in my head regarding life post-ESTEEM. However, instead of having the same nerves that I did a year ago, I now have a calm curiosity about what the future holds. It was truly bizarre to have this realization as I had just had, easily, one of the more stressful weeks of my life with midterms, my oral thesis defense, and this grant to work on the week prior. Yet, I realized that while it was busy, that for the first time in my life I was really only doing work that I genuinely enjoyed. Having made it nearly half way through the 11 quick months we have here in ESTEEM I can confidently say that I have never felt more at home. While I may not know what the future holds yet, I know that ESTEEM will send me on the path I am supposed to be on, and this was the same enthusiasm I conveyed to the prospective students I spoke with. Yet again it was another great week in ESTEEM!