A few weeks ago at the Wentworth Annual Awards I was recognized as a graduating senior who successfully participated at Accelerate, WIT’s center for innovation & entrepreneurship on campus. I joked that I was just there to eat dinner and receive a participation trophy, but the truth is that my time at Accelerate has been incredibly important to my development not only as someone interested in entrepreneurship, but also as a scientist and engineer, and being recognized for the work I’ve done there means a lot to me.
In spring of 2015 I was in my second semester at Wentworth, and taking Introduction to Engineering Design. I was working on a project with the goal of aiding victims of stroke during rehabilitation, and my professor suggested I take the project to Accelerate. I pitched on behalf of my team, and secured us $1,000 in funding to build a prototype.
The project ended up being put on hold, and ultimately I decided to part ways with my team (another experience that taught me a lot, but a story for another day!). I didn’t feel like I was done with Accelerate, and Accelerate wasn’t done with me either: in Fall 2015 I came back to coach student teams. I helped guide students through our Startup Challenge, giving them feedback on their ideas, showing them how to research competition, and sharpening their public speaking and communication skills.
In Spring of 2016 I left to complete my first co-op at MGH (something I’ve written about a few times), and then applied to do my second co-op at Accelerate that summer. My application was quickly accepted (thanks again Greg, if you’re reading this: everyone at Accelerate misses you!), and I spent the summer helping run the Startup Challenge, mentoring teams, and assisting with our Social Innovation Lab. I also had the opportunity to run a new program, Women Who Accelerate, that I created with help from Emily Levy of Mighty Well. Women Who Accelerate was a series of events throughout the summer that invited women (and those who support women) to the Accelerate space to discuss the unique challenges facing women in entrepreneurship, and come up with strategies of how to be successful and support each other.
In Fall 2016 I transitioned back to student coach, where I’ve continued to offer whatever support I can to our teams, and help bring in the new generation of freshmen to Accelerate.
It’s been a jam-packed few years here at Accelerate! What I thought was going to just be a small project ended up turning into a solid work-study job and a co-op, and along the way I’ve learned:
- Successful event planning requires more than just several gallons of ice cream.
- Having a hard experience with my own project team was heartbreaking, but gave me valuable insight to help mediate other teams.
- You can always use more practice with public speaking.
- Most meetings could be replaced with a good email.
- …but most students won’t read your email anyway 😉
- Always keep a few business cards in your pocket.
- Industry professionals are usually open to answering questions or helping you out, if you ask politely.
- Always say please, and ALWAYS say thank you!
- You can’t get what you want if you aren’t willing to ask for it.
So, to Accelerate, I say a heartfelt thank you. It’s been an amazing time here, and I’m excited to see what we can do together in my final summer at Wentworth.