This is my first blog post for Information Space and I am pretty hyped to have the opportunity to talk about how, as a finance and advertising major, I fell in love with the iSchool (School of Information Studies). My name is Dylan Gans, I’m a sophomore, and I came into Syracuse University as a Whitman School of Management student with a love for entrepreneurship.
I found my love for entrepreneurship in high school when Hurricane Sandy destroyed my hometown of Hoboken, NJ. Many residential buildings were destroyed, including mine, so with my skills from my previous summer of working construction and some help from my dad I assembled a team of my buddies and began going out into the community and helping people fix their houses. We called ourselves ASAP Construction and really felt like we made a positive impact. It was then that I realized that anyone can build an organization to carry out important work.
How I Found Out about EntreTech
A sign for the 2015 EntreTech Trip
During the end of the fall semester I was walking on campus and saw a bunch of signs that said EntreTech NYC and thought: I should look into this. I think those who grew up with the tech bubble saw how impactful new technology can be. We are living in a really innovative time, and I am excited to be a part of creating the future. After doing some research, I decided that week checking out companies in NYC would be a good way to break in to the technology field.
After I submitted my video application to EntreTech, Julie Walas-Huynh, academic advising director at the iSchool told me my video application was too formal. Instead, she suggested that I should be myself: take the suit off, lose the script, have fun, and talk about how I actually feel. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the theme of being myself would echo throughout my entire EntreTech experience.
Luckily, I ended up getting accepted to EntreTech and began going to the class meetings. One of the best parts of EntreTech is that we get to take what we learn from the businesses in NYC and we would then use those lessons to help a small business owner in Syracuse and talk to them about solutions for their problems. It was exciting to be in a room talking about real solutions to real business problems.
Going on EntreTech was an incredible, life changing experience.
First: I have to talk about the staff that put the whole trip together.
The 2015 group debriefing after a visit during EntreTech
It was so cool to be able to talk to more experienced people who challenged me to speak up about my experiences and my ideas. I have kept in contact with most of the staff on the trip and look forward to when I walk into their offices to talk. A lot of them have introduced me to many other professionals and given me really great opportunities.
Second: the other students.
From motivated rising sophomores to kindhearted veterans, everyone was incredible. To find peers who are as passionate as I am about technology and business was great. In fact, one of my classmates changed my sophomore year by introducing me to a ton of people in the Syracuse entrepreneurial scene. The bond I created with my EntreTech friends changed my college experience for the better.
Third: I can’t forget to talk about the businesses!
To see how these people found a way to combine being fun, creative, and running a great business was wild. Originally, I thought the startup environment was a myth: ping pong tables and Guitar Hero at the office? I remember walking with Meredith Tornabene from the iSchool’s career center and talking about all the different directions I would be able to take my career. Before EntreTech, I felt like the startup environment was a myth. But after visiting a handful of companies, I found out it was true. Meredith and I talked about how a small group can accomplish so much and have fun doing it, and I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a part of that kind of environment.
Finally: the connections.
While on EntreTech, I met the COO/CFO of Mashable on the trip and we hit it off. A week after EntreTech, we got lunch together, and at the end of the summer I visited him in his office to hang out and talk business.
I also met Mike Smith ’12 G’13, who is a dedicated Orange Alum. We met at an alumni networking event and bonded over our love for venture capital. Mike brought me to a venture capital conference over the summer and is now working with me on an angel investing project.
I also became good friends with Billy Ceskavich ’14, G’15, who graduated from the MS in Information Management program last semester. Billy and I had incredible conversations all week about life and business and his experiences working for startups in Silicon Valley. When we got back to campus, it was Billy who introduced me to everyone in the Syracuse University entrepreneurship scene, which has led to me getting involved in Vision and working with a peer to start an angel investing group. All of this started from EntreTech!
And Now …
I’m back at school, taking 6 classes between Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and I’m always running to the iSchool career services office to talk to everyone there. Julie and Meredith have both introduced me to people to help me find an internship. I give credit to EntreTech for the opportunity to create strong bonds between iSchool staff and students, since we had so many opportunities to connect and talk about our mindset.
How EntreTech Changed My Life
The iSchool preaches creativity and gives the tools to build ideas. They have connections to almost every popular tech company, and a very proud alumni community. That is what has urged me to stay involved with the iSchool even though I am not an iSchool student.
The idea of cross-campus collaboration has had an impact on my school activities. I am now on executive board for an exciting new student organization called Vision, which is a collective of creative people looking to accomplish things on campus from the biggest day of entrepreneurship on campus to creating personal business ventures.
Along with EntreTech connecting me with a whole new network of people, making me fall in love with the iSchool, and changing the activities I wanted to be involved with on campus, it also changed what I see myself doing after graduation. Before EntreTech, I saw myself working for a financial services company as an investment banker. After EntreTech, I see myself happily working at a small startup that is doing incredible work that will change the world. I recommend it!
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