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Why I think all students should be enterprising.

Now don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you need to set up a business. In fact, I’m of the opinion that the common understanding of ‘enterprise’ or ‘entrepreneurship’, particularly within an educational setting, is much too narrow.

Being enterprising is about so much more than the limitations of the dictionary definition allow us to understand and the rather strange social media narrative that being entrepreneurial is about sacrificing your sleeping pattern and social life, until you’re as rich as Elon Musk. Please do not do the latter.

Being enterprising is about having the ability to identify problems and see them as opportunities for positive change. It’s about having the ability to bring groups of people together to achieve collective goals and realise a vision. It’s about challenging the status quo-because those who are currently in positions to make decisions that influence people and the planet seem to need some help. You’ll notice that none of the ideas above are solely applicable to starting or running a business. In fact, I’m sure that at least one of them applies to a scenario that you’ve found yourself in while studying; and that’s the point:

  • Working in a team with others and being empathetic of everyone’s needs, as a part of the way in which you operate.

  • Conducting robust research that, amongst other things, creates the basis of an effective plan.

Just two examples of ways that you can be ‘enterprising’, that apply to an infinite amount of scenarios you are likely to find yourself in, while at university and one you’ve graduated.

That’s the thing, the skills that you can build through an effective experiential learning programme, like Enactus, are ones that will stick with you for the rest of your life and there will always be opportunities to improve them. If you’re someone that still isn’t convinced that enterprising is for you, because you don’t ever intend on starting your own business, then don’t take it from me. Eric Schmidt, who was the CEO of Google from 2001-2011, when speaking about the tech giant’s recruitment philosophy, said:

“Persistence is the biggest indicator of future success in a knowledge economy. Second is curiosity.”

Persistence and curiosity, two of the most common skills amongst people considered ‘enterprising’.

In Sheffield, as students, we’re incredibly lucky to have opportunities to become enterprising, through various extracurricular activities and programmes, such as Enactus Sheffield, Entrepreneurship at Sheffield and SELA.

In my opinion, as well as the skills that you gain, one of the best things about being a part of Enactus Sheffield is the fact that you are surrounded by a group of like-minded, hardworking, solution-driven students, (who know how to have fun!).

So, while I’m not able to solve the linguistic challenges around terms like ‘enterprising’ and ‘entrepreneurship’; I do know that when I joined Enactus Sheffield, I didn’t really think of myself as ‘entrepreneurial’ or particularly hardworking. Through it, I have developed a multitude of skills and made a genuine positive difference within local and international communities, all while fostering friendships that I’m sure will last for a very long time, with people who see the world full of opportunities, not limitations.

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