(Unsolicited) Advice for Babson Freshmen

From an upperclassmen pretty unqualified to give any advice.

[Edit #1: One year later, I believe the advice below still very much ring true. I added changes to reflect my senior status (can’t believe I’m so old) and some more advice from the recent ’17 graduates.]

As you’re reading this, you have probably arrived on campus and survived freshman orientation.

You’re now in the honeymoon phase at Babson, and I can guess how these first couple weeks will turn out (because I was there 3 years ago, too):

You’re probably feeling a mix of emotions right now, from that gleeful optimism to unwarranted nervousness. You’re eager to take on Babson, and make a name for yourself amongst some of the finest in business. But, you’re also worried about failing that first midterm.

You shake hands with everyone you meet, start to build your network and wonder if any of them have the potential to be that next co-founder you’re looking for, to build the next Snapchat.

You get invited to your first Map Hill party by an upperclassman (but don’t drink cuz you’re underage) and you feel like you’re in the big leagues now.

You start to hear names like Arthur Blank, Edsel Ford, Kevin Colleran, Michael Bastian thrown around. And hear about recent grads like Hanson (ThinkBoard), Emily (PICCPerfect), Gary (Unwelcome Greetings), Diana (indico) who are crushing it right now. You wonder if your name will be thrown around too and maybe even appear on Wikipedia, as a proud Babson alum. But you also wonder if you’ll even finish school, as the best entrepreneurs seem to be leaving school these days for greener pastures.

You introduce yourself as a “serial entrepreneur,” but you haven’t the slightest idea what product market fit is or what KPI stands for. But hey, fake it until you make it, right?

The honeymoon period of college eventually ends, and the incoming winter and chilly mornings exacerbates the onset of reality:

There’ll be times where you’ll be up until 3am finishing that term paper, or studying for that QTM midterm. You’ll think “I’m an entrepreneur, why do I even need to know this shit.”

There’ll be times when you’re suffering from impostor syndrome and doubting whether you’re actually cut out to be an “entrepreneur,” whatever that means. Maybe you should’ve listened to your dad, done CS, and be a second, third, and fourth employee at a company (credits to Gary Vaynerchuk) instead.

There’ll be times when you don’t think a Babson education is worth your time anymore, and your growth has stagnated. You contemplate taking a gap year, or leaving for good.

There’ll be times where you want to give up on changing the system because you realize that change is slow and painful. You start blaming the system, to veil your insecurities stemming from your inability to effect change.

Let’s cut to the chase, there will be tough times ahead. Thankfully, there is a silver lining.

As much as you may think otherwise, you’re not the first to struggle through it all. We’ve all been through it, and, with enough tenacity, emerged victorious.

When people ask me what’s great about Babson, I tell them it’s not the curriculum, not the food from Trim (you’re lucky because we got a new service that might be better), not the Map Hill parties, but the people.

Now comes the actual advice part of this blog: Surround yourself with amazing people.

Don’t weather the storm alone, because the journey of an aspiring student entrepreneur can be a lonely one. Surround yourself with like-minded and passionate beings who share your vision of the world. And trust me, there’s no shortage of amazing people at Babson.

Make a friend. Befriend someone who makes you laugh while studying for that FME midterm together. Find a partner to hold you accountable for achieving your business milestones. Discover that person who stays up with you all night, talking about changing Babson and the world and then actually doing it.

They can be 10 different people, or maybe just 1.

Befriend upperclassmen. We are more eager and willing to help out than you might think. Whether you need help navigating internships, brainstorming business strategies, or understanding what orgs to join, we can definitely share our insights and experiences with you.

Reach out to alumni. Advice from alumni is worth its weight in gold — they’ve been through it all and are now killing it in the “real world.” They are living proof that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Every alumni I’ve reached out to happily found time to chat or grab coffee with me, and I was also able to find my summer internship through an alumni as well. The network is out there — you just have to find it.

As an added bonus, I’ll end with some tidbits of advice from Babson alum:

Tif Lien ’10:Be uncomfortable and push yourself out of our comfort zone. Try new things. Fail. Then pick yourself back up and do it again. The community will support you (especially e-tower) through it.”

Andy Huang ’14:Take a class at Olin.”

Nina Vir ’16:Bite more than you can chew and then chew it 🐿 , pick classes based on professors, join eTower”

Jen Huynh ’16: “The person you think you want to be first year is not the same person you will become. Be open to deviating your plans because opportunity could be hiding where you least expect. (That’s how I ended up in DSP too)”

Nelson Munoz ‘15:Read ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen and apply the full system to your personal organization.”

Anonymous Graduate: “Your friends in first-year are friends of convenience. Go abroad and see who’s still with you.”

Alexandros Mathopolous ‘17: If your GPA is above a 3.5, your spending to much time on class work and not enough time on side projects, networking, etc (unless you are in finance, accounting, or consulting). 99% of what you learn at school will happen outside of classes. If you focus just on classes, you will leave school knowing very little.”

Christina Gee ’17:Babson is not always a recognizable school to people. And that’s okay. It may be harder to impress someone that you’re smart or get your resume to a company who doesn’t know Babson. But as a result you will become a more resourceful and scrappy person trying to figure out how to make yourself and Babson memorable.”

Chris Maddox ’17: “It’s ok not to know every next step you’ll take. It’s ok to decide you don’t like the career path you might be going down (also ok to have no idea what direction you want to go). As soon as you know something isn’t making you happy. Change directions. Take the risk. Don’t settle.”

Welcome to the start of the best (and craziest) four years of your life.

If you need someone to talk to, about pretty much anything, I’m always reachable via Email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

Good resource: last summer I put together a list of student-only discounts — check it out here.

Thanks to Prabha Dublish, Nick Abouzeid, Christina Gee, and Ishita Arora for edits and lulz.