These Unexpected Jobs Will Prepare You for Entrepreneurship Life

 

This school year we’ve featured several student entrepreneurs and asked them all the same question: “What advice would you give to other student entrepreneurs?” While every single one of them replied “Just do it!” we understand the hesitancy you might still feel in starting a business.  In case you aren’t quite ready, here are some things you can do to gain the necessary skills while you finish your degree.

 

Get The Most Out of Your Current Job 

Yes, that boring retail, restaurant, or call center job can actually equip you for success later on. Customer service and sales teach you soft skills. Every company involves people, even the online ones, and when it comes to learning the nuances of dealing with customers it’s beneficial to learn from another company and their mistakes and avoid them in the future.

cashier

Working in the food and restaurant industry will teach you multi-tasking. Some people are better at this than others, but in the end it’s a part of life everyone should know how to handle being responsible for several things at once. Do you need to write things down? Work fast to complete small tasks in order? Whatever your method is for dealing with life coming at you all at once, this is your chance to nail it down before starting your own company.

A trait that many companies look for, and every entrepreneur requires, is self motivation. One day you may be your own boss, and you won’t have a superior telling you what to do. Cultivate an innovative mindset and be hungry enough to do the best you can at whatever job you have. Find things that could be changed or improved at your current job position. Take the initiative on tasks and projects.  Being able to get things done on your own is a skill that takes time and practice. 



Volunteer Work

If you don't have the chance to take all the elective classes you’re wanting to, internships can be a great way to fill gaps in your knowledge base. Look for jobs and internships related to areas you want to learn more, whether it is marketing, operations, or accounting. Many internships are part time and entry level. Even if you accept an unpaid internship, being taught a skill from the ground up could be worth it.

skills

If your current schedule doesn’t allow you to take on an internship, consider volunteering. While internships often come with set schedules and a higher commitment, volunteering can be done as little as once a month, if that’s all you can handle. Find a cause in the community that you care about or a startup you believe in, and offer to help. Don’t ask for anything in return, just offer to help. What small projects can you take off their hands? In addition to networking and building a reputation for being entrepreneur-friendly, you never know what you will learn or what opportunities could present themselves.

One motto to live by is “do things that scare you.” If you don’t think you can do it, don’t have the skills, and it scares you to apply, then you should absolutely do it! Remaining comfortable means no growth will happen to you, either personally or career related. In order for change, learning, and growth to occur, you have to do uncomfortable things.  Also, what do you have to lose? As an intern, they are expecting to teach and mold you, and as a volunteer you literally have nothing to lose because you’re not an employee or being paid. 

 

Group Projects at School

If you want to start a company someday, you will need leadership skills. Managing and motivating people is harder than it seems. Find a way to lead a group or project today. There’s school group projects (yeah… they're the worst), school clubs, volunteer work, sports, dance teams, or offering to lead a small project at your current job.  You don’t need a supervisor title on your resume to practice this now. 

Decide what type of leader you want to be. Look at great leaders who you would like to be like. Determine what traits and characteristics make them great leaders and emulate them. 

 

For a deeper dive, here are a couple of books on team building and leadership. There are so many great ones out there, but this should get you started.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Ideal Team Player

 

Self-Research

Finally, there’s good ol research. Become an expert in areas pertaining to your business idea. Read books, articles, customer reviews, product descriptions, everything. Attend free lectures and webinars at UVU and the Salt Lake area.

girl research

A great one is the Silicon Slopes Lecture Series here at UVU, where entrepreneurs and business professionals share their life experiences and advice on a variety of topics. You can find dozens of past lecture videos on our YouTube. Entrepreneurs are always hungry and motivated to learn more. If you can practice self motivation and learn things on your own, you're on a pretty good path to entrepreneurship.

 

Make the most out of your summer!