Danielle Kalajian

Danielle R. Kalajian is a senior in the Krannert School and recipient of Purdue's Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. (Photo by Mark Simons)

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Before college, people were always telling me that my objective should be to go to a good university and get a good job that would lead to a nice, simple life. Participating in the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program really shook up that notion for me. This doesn’t mean that getting a job in an established company isn’t perfectly respectful; it just means that getting engaged in entrepreneurship and acquiring the skills necessary to start a company made me realize that there is potentially more to life than what I expected.

There are many students like me who have seen their family members run successful businesses. These companies may not have been particularly innovative, but they gave us a chance to grow up in an environment that others weren’t able to experience. Having parents who were entrepreneurs meant that they had flexibility, so they could attend each softball game and stay home when I was sick. As an entrepreneur-in-the-works, I am motivated by this freedom. I am also motivated by the fact that I will be helping others and waking up each day with pride in myself.

Although I have grown up with an “entrepreneurial spirit,” what good would have come if I hadn’t been able to use it? I may have great ideas and the passion to back them up, but prior to coming to Purdue and taking the introductory course in entrepreneurship and innovation, I had never heard of a “business plan” or an “elevator pitch.” In my entrepreneurship classes, I devised new business ventures, conducted market analysis, wrote business plans and pitched my ideas in front of investors. I also read case studies, learned how to prepare financial statements, talked about business strategy and learned how work effectively in teams.

We also had opportunities to hear stories from our professors, many of whom are entrepreneurs themselves, as well as from a variety of speakers who gave us a real-world perspective. Because the certificate program involves students from all majors, a group project may involve students from engineering, liberal arts or management, which creates something special. Best of all, I was surrounded by others who felt the same way I did, students who had big dreams and a passion for innovation.

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