Jessica Sutherland, B.F.A. in Design senior with minor in Entrepreneurship
Q: You decided to take an entrepreneurship class very early in your journey as a Design student. What impact do you think that will have on your career?
A: My first entrepreneurship course at UT was the Women in Entrepreneurship course taught by Jan Ryan at COFA, and it has completely changed my career path. Initially, I had taken the course to help improve my skills as a freelance designer, but instead it completely changed my perspective of the world, my design practice and my ability to start a company. Through an entrepreneurship course, you realize the possibilities of combining your passions with an entrepreneurial mindset, and learn how to look at problems and situations differently to be a leader in your field or market. In my career, the courses have given me the confidence to pitch my ideas, explore opportunities, and I have even begun an entrepreneurial venture utilizing skills I have learned.
Q: What was your key takeaway from that first exposure to entrepreneurship?
A: Without a doubt, my key takeaway was that every student needs to take an entrepreneurship course at UT! The skills I have learned are invaluable for any career path, from a new mindset, to identifying pain points, customer interview skills, cost-effective ways to prototype solutions and learning engaging presentation skills. For creatives especially, I would recommend getting involved with the Center for Creative Entrepreneurship because it will change the way you approach your courses and change your projects from an academic grade to the opportunity to build a marketable solution that could be a profitable startup or product.
Q: You eventually decided to pursue a Minor in Entrepreneurship. Why?
A: After that first course, I knew I had to take every course in Entrepreneurship that I could find before I graduated UT. Inspired by the Women in Entrepreneurship class, where I was first exposed to successful women who built their own businesses, you cannot leave without feeling empowered to look at your own passions in a new way. It is an incredible opportunity to learn the skills to minimize the risks of starting a company, have opportunities to meet co-founders and meet mentors that have had the experience of building a successful startup and business.
Q: What advice would you give other creatives who have the itch to run a business one day?
A: Get involved first of all. As a senior, I wish I had started in entrepreneurship my freshman year. My experiences in CCE courses and programs have honestly been the best part of my time at UT. It was during the Ideas Lab that I could flesh out my ideas, and I was introduced to the Kendra Scott WEL Institute. CCE is a huge advocate for creatives to get involved in opportunities across campus. From the courses to events, you meet so many exceptional students and mentors along the way and learn what’s possible someday if you want to have your own company.