One aspect about ESTEEM that I have come to appreciate is that no week is the same. While they are all extremely packed with classes, meetings, side projects and job searches, each week brings about new challenges and learning experiences.
My week started off with an early morning phone call with my thesis industry advisor. I learned about the new internal marketing strategies, progressions in R&D, discussed patent research and learned that I will be traveling to the facilities in the coming months to better understand how my technology is manufactured. In the afternoon, we attended our first business law class which allowed me to begin to understand the basics behind researching existing patents and how to file patents. This class is going to be extremely helpful in helping me understand the patent-pending state of the novel technology that I am working with through my thesis project. For dinner, Sunny (an ESTEEM professor and advisor) treated Barrett, Om, Margaret and myself to an authentic Japanese and Korean restaurant where we got to know each other a little more, discuss our future career paths and our time in ESTEEM thus far. I also learned that Sunny has traveled to some really cool places and has a lot of interesting stories. I ended the night back in Innovation Park with Juan where we were held a weekly planning meeting for our trip to the American Chemical Society Entrepreneurship Summit in mid-November. We schemed on how we can potentially set up a meeting with keynote speaker and Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavec while at the event.
Tuesday morning began with a workout and big breakfast. A peer and I headed to St. Joseph’s Hospital for an interview with a pharmacist who gave us extremely insightful information to aid in the customer validation and launch strategy of our respective thesis projects. Upon returning to campus, I attended the final ESTEEM tailgate committee meeting where we discussed the overall success of the ESTEEM tailgate, held the previous weekend, and recommendations for the event next year. The event was a great opportunity to speak with ESTEEM students from previous classes, network with Notre Dame alumni, and hang out with friends from the program. On Tuesday night, Alison, Claire and I attended a pitch session sponsored by the IDEA Center. We pitched an idea that we have been working on for some time through the venture founder’s program. We are looking to bridge the gap that exists for autistic individuals once they phase out of the high school system and work to immerse them into the community by matching them with employment opportunities, allow them to be socially included and expand upon intellectual curiosities. We won a $20 gift certificate for our idea, it was a great end to the night!
My technical elective course is a special topic cell biology class where we learn about and present papers on the differing signal transduction pathways present in cancer cell proliferation. On Wednesday, it was my turn to conduct a 45 minute presentation and discussion on TFGbeta signaling. The presentation and discussion went smoothly and I was happy to have the weight off my shoulders. After two more classes, I rushed to the Notre Dame women’s volleyball game in the Joyce Center to quickly change into my officiating uniform. For several of the home games this season, I have been scorekeeping for the team and having a front row seat to the games. After playing four seasons of varsity volleyball at my undergraduate institution this has been a great way to continue to keep volleyball in my life. It was a five set match, against the University of Louisville, where unfortunately Notre Dame fell short.
On Thursday Matt Leevy (ESTEEM thesis advisor), Thor, Brady and I met for our weekly Collegiate Soaps meeting. Towards the end of the summer session, we founded a company with a mission to create soaps and other beauty products with designated college logos in order to connect the respective college’s family (ie. students, alumni, fans, etc.) with the institution through an everyday habit. We are starting our company at the University of Notre Dame, selling in the bookstores and the Morris Inn. At this week’s meeting we discussed packaging details, finalizing our minimum viable prototype and labeling. After the meeting, I headed to an ESTEEM mid-semester review session with Sunny, Dustin, and Maria. We discussed the upcoming thesis deadlines, our upcoming trips to Chicago and Silicon Valley, and scheduling for next semester. After a busy week, Claire, Alison and I decided to take our weekly venture founders meeting to Brothers. We began by spit balling ideas of cool things that we learned the past week, and it got us super excited. We divvyed up the different portions of the idea that we need to still research and discussed interview strategies.
Friday began with early morning venture founder’s “lab hours” where we can bounce ideas off our mentors, Maria and Dustin. They gave us great feedback about our work for the week and pushed back on us about our current direction to ensure that we are considering all aspects of the pain point that we are trying to solve. After spending most of the morning on my venture founders project, most of the ESTEEM program attended the Innovation Rally, hosted by the IDEA Center, where the vice president of marketing at Google spoke with us in the greenhouse. He enlightened us on a lot of the marketing and innovation strategies that the company is currently using and the future direction of the company. For dinner, a few of my girlfriends and I got together for our weekly “fam dinner.” This week we made salad, spaghetti squash and garlic bread and had a great time drinking wine and unwinding from the busy week. We were relaxing before the storm of the football game against NC State.
Waking up the morning of a football game is one of the best feelings that I have experienced while at ND, especially with our recent upset against USC and playing #15 NC State. Upon putting on my warm Notre Dame gear, and four-leaf clover tattoo on my face, I headed over to a friend’s house to begin the daily festivities and shortly after headed over to tailgate with some friends. Although the game was cold, the Irish came out on top…and it was an exciting one!