Monday, September 15, 2014

English Major Participates in Entrepreneurship Immersion Week

By Kristen Herrick

Kristen Herrick taking a break at Entrepreneurship Immersion Week with participants from other universities
I was on break at work during the summer and decided to check my email. Upon opening my inbox, I saw an email about Entrepreneurship Immersion Week from Read Wakefield, the director of Entrepreneurship Studies at AU. I was instantly curious  and after reviewing Read’s email, I discovered that Entrepreneurship Immersion Week is a part of the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC), a collaboration of 11 Northeast Ohio colleges and universities, in which Ashland University was a founding university. Read was putting together a team of five AU students  who would then compete at The University of Akron against 10 other colleges by creating a product or concept, determining all of the details that would make it a real product in the market, and presenting it to a panel of judges. Read told me that Bruce Keller, the previous coordinator of tutoring services as Ashland, referred me and that I should apply.

At first, I was hesitant. I’m not a business major, so why would I compete? However, I reminded myself that I had both an office job on campus and an ongoing marketing internship that I loved. I realized that my English degree may lead me to a fulltime career in business and this could be a valuable experience to both learn and network. So I applied and was chosen.

I was both extremely nervous and excited to spend a week at The University of Akron with 55 students and 12 faculty members that I did not know.  Not only was I nervous about not knowing anyone, but also that I had only taken three business classes in my life! My fears were quickly allayed when I walked into my dorm room at UA and met my friendly, fashion-forward roommate, Hannah Betz. Over the next few hours I met the rest of my team: Mack Reece, Morgan Hall, and Shelbie Prince and mingled with the other teams.

Over the next week, I attended entrepreneurship classes, listened to guest speakers, and worked at maximum capacity to think of an invention and bring it to life with my team. It was an exhausting, challenging, and enlightening experience. The professors and professionals who taught the classes were experts in their fields and very helpful, the guest speakers were wise and inspiring, and the students were intelligent and motivated.  The first two days, we had no idea what our invention would be. We finally decided on a tissue box that would have a slide-out compartment where used tissues could be placed. We thought it would be ideal for long car rides or road trips since most people don't have trashcans in their vehicles. After interviewing a diverse group of people, we discovered that moms and teachers were particularly interested. We created a prototype of our tissue box and perfected our presentation for the judges. Unfortunately, we didn’t place in the top three, but we were proud of our invention will always look back on that week as a great experience.