My name is Mylene & I am a student entrepreneur that is currently on a journey to impact people positively through tech & business. I study Management Engineering at the University of Waterloo and I like sharing my experiences to help me reflect and (hopefully) inspire other young people.
This year I applied to zero jobs. With the Fall co-op/internship term underway, I thought I’d share why I decided to “DIY” my experience.
So, what exactly do I mean by “DIY” or “do-it-yourself”?
After a long debate with myself and a few encouraging conversations, I decided to pursue the opportunity to work on my own company full-time. In this case, I decided to swing open my own door through a unique opportunity called: E Co-op.
Enterprise Co-op or E Co-op, is an option at the University of Waterloo in which students work on their own business while earning a co-op credit.
To me, this 4-month opportunity to put all my energy and time into a company I’ve started while in school is an exciting and slightly scary shift. For some background context, I started my first venture in my first year of university (2018) to empower young women in STEM and ever since then, I’ve been interested in entrepreneurship. The thing is, I’ve always had my time split between school or internships while trying to build a start-up. Now that I am working on my second venture, Lumaki Labs, I want to ensure that it has all the attention it needs to grow, so I figured why not now?
I think it’s important to note that I wasn’t always enthusiastic about taking a deeper plunge into the start-up world. At the end of the day, I am still a student with tuition fees to pay and a lot to learn but, being able to test the waters and run a start-up full-time while in school is an amazing opportunity that doesn’t often come by unless you make it happen. It also helps that my mentor brought me to the realization that this would be an opportunity for me to learn by doing in a way no employer could provide. Instead of waiting to be hired, I would be embarking on a journey of my own to create a product that would challenge the way we traditionally view student opportunities to create a job for not only myself, but hopefully many other students as well. After all, when unprecedented times occur, that is when businesses and individuals are challenged; some companies fall while others emerge.
Overcoming Fear & Doubt
I overcame my feelings of doubt and uncertainty by treating them as reasons to be even more excited about the opportunity to work for myself. Here’s what helped reassure my decision:
- Knowing that timing is crucial in business and that now is the opportune time to act in the space I am working in
- Seeing this as a “risk-free trial” as a full-time entrepreneur (free of other distractions)
- Having the flexibility to create my own schedule to find a rhythm that works for me as well as being able to prioritize self-care
- Understanding that this experience is what I make of it and it will help me learn things I didn’t quite have the time to before
- Having belief in myself and my team as well as having a strong support system
Deciding to pursue entrepreneurship can seem daunting at any age, but to me the regret of not trying seems even scarier than trying and failing.
I am only 3 weeks into the term and already the experience feels worth it. To elaborate on how I have been “DIY’ing my own job”, I have been filling in any gaps of knowledge by creating a plan on how to acquire the skills I need throughout the next 4 months and onwards.
For example, I have wanted to try out the role of product manager during an internship for a little over a year now and since my start-up is currently building our first product this has been my way of learning more about the product space. Of course, there is still an abundance to learn but I wouldn’t have been able to as clearly identify those gaps and work towards filling them if I hadn’t tried it otherwise. This is why I like using the term “DIY” in this context; having the ability to work for myself with no other distractions is enabling me to learn, implement, and learn some more, at my own pace and in a way that is most effective for me.
Now, if you’ve read this far here are some key takeaways I hope you walk away with:
- DIY’ing your own job through starting and/or working on your own company is an opportunity that only you can give yourself
- If you’ve ever wanted to start a business, hopefully this helped you consider how you might overcome any fear or doubts when deciding whether or not to take the plunge
- If you’re a student interested in entrepreneurship, don’t be afraid to invest time and effort into yourself, starting a business young has unique benefits