A firsthand account by FORGE Fellow, Linnea Andersson of how FORGE shaped her college experience and expanded her opportunities.
Fall of 2020, I was helplessly browsing Handshake looking for a campus job. I was a sophomore at the time, and while I was already working part-time as a Resident Assistant, I was in a tough place financially being an international student in the middle of a global pandemic. A marketing position caught my eye, listed by a completely new unit on campus: FORGE – Finding Opportunities and Resources to Grow Entrepreneurs. I never had any interest in becoming an entrepreneur myself, but I decided to take a chance and submit my resume. That one decision ended up shaping the rest of my college career.
Over the past two years, FORGE has given me opportunities I would have never imagined. From interviewing CEOs and startup founders, to speaking in front of large crowds, to singlehandedly planning and executing major projects and marketing campaigns, I have gotten the chance to network with people I would have otherwise never met. Throughout that time, I have grown both as a professional and as a person.
Often when I talk to students, I get the question “If I don’t want to start my own company, why should I care about FORGE?”. The answer is simple - having an entrepreneurial mindset is about so much more than starting a business. I still have no interest in becoming an entrepreneur, but the lessons I have picked up from programming, networking, and working in an environment that fosters innovation have helped me develop transferable skills that apply to any job. I’ve learned to be flexible and adaptable when plans change last minute, I’ve used my creativity to find innovative solutions when problems arise, and I’ve taken initiative and seen opportunities, even when they seem risky. These are all aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset that are difficult, if not impossible, to learn in a classroom setting. Thanks to FORGE, I will bring them with me in life as I graduate college in a few weeks.
Following graduation, I will be moving to New York City to start my career as a Technology Analyst with Barclays. For an international student, an opportunity like that is extremely rare, and I could not be more grateful. In my interview for the internship that led up to the full-time position, I kept finding myself connecting questions back to concepts and skills learned through my FORGE positions over the years. During the internship, we went through an innovation boot camp, which was almost identical to programming I helped plan with FORGE. Entrepreneurial concepts kept coming up, and every time I felt lucky to have an edge. Of course, there have been other things contributing to my success during my years here, but I am certain that spending most of my college years working for FORGE has set me up for success.
Moving across the globe for college is scary, but graduating college as an international student is turning out to be even scarier. I don’t know how long I will be able to stay in the country, or where I will eventually end up settling down. But, if I have learned one thing over the course of my time here, it’s that uncertainty can lead to great things. This is why I will be walking across the stage accepting my diploma with the following quote behind me, by Swedish/Finnish author Tove Jansson: “All things are so very uncertain, and that's exactly what makes me feel reassured.”.