In the fall of 2010, I accepted a spring semester internship in Durham, NC. At that time I didn’t know anything about North Carolina, nor did I know a single person there. I wanted to change that.
I decided that it would be great to have some friends when I got to Durham. I would be located just a mile away from Duke University, full of interesting people – a great place to start. So, I sent emails to strangers. I searched the internet for the student leaders of the entrepreneurship community at Duke and introduced myself: “Hey, I think what you’re doing is cool and although I don’t have any affiliation with your school, I’d love to get involved.” And to my surprise, my inbox filled with enthusiastic replies, welcoming me to the community.
Fast forward a month and I arrive in Durham. I begin following up on those emails and arranging meetings. Within the first week I had met with several student leaders and Presidents of clubs. I began attending executive board meetings and providing input from what I had learned running the Entrepreneurs Club at Northeastern. All of the groups had websites, although some of them were outdated. So I offered to re-design them, for free. Of course I was met with an enthusiastic yes and over winter vacation I began to code several new websites for the Duke Entrepreneurship organizations.
A week later, I was introduced to a professor in the Markets & Management program and after telling him my story, he invited me to participate in his class. Within 3 weeks of being at Duke (minus vacation), I was:
- Participating in the executive board operations of clubs
- Taking a senior capstone class… and doing homework!
- Rushing two selective living groups (living communities on campus)
- Went to my first Duke basketball game, and then another.
Now fast forward another few weeks and I was:
- Planning & executing events for the InCube selective living group rush
- Starting a company with a freshman computer science major
- Meeting more key people at Duke then many seniors knew
I had quickly accomplished my goal of making friends – but the experience ended up becoming so much more. I gained an entirely new perspective by immersing myself in a university that was so different than the one I had been at before. I went from not knowing anybody to walking through Duke campus saying hi to people around every turn.
What did I learn?
- People will give you amazing opportunities if you have the guts to ask
- If you create advantage instead of taking advantage, everyone wins
- Duke & Northeastern are completely different – more info coming later