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Musings of an entrepreneurial dud

Posted by Chad O'Connor  September 24, 2012 11:00 AM

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This summer, I interned at Boston World Partnerships, an organization dedicated to the economic development of Boston through connecting business leaders across industries and across the world. Like most college interns, I was just happy that I got a job.

Although I’m thrilled that I acquired temporary employment, it feels that it isn’t enough for me to be “just working” these days; I feel the stifling pressure to be a startup superstar. Politicians are magically pulling new jobs out of top hats, policy is as structurally regulated as a jumpy wooden playground bridge, and parents are demanding we do more than sit on the sofa when we’re home. Living around Boston means you constantly hear about all the new job opportunities being created in its innovation focused economy. Going to school here means you're educated in the city historically known for its record of breeding academic geniuses. With 265,000 college students in the area, Boston is pumping out entrepreneurial minions to take the city by storm.

There’s an unspoken understanding that as soon as we get our diploma, we should be walking into the office, fresh off the stage. I’m expected to become an active part of the generation that’s inventing fancy gizmos with clever names and new technologies to creep on people over the internet. Even with a majority of fresh grads ready to take the plunge in Boston’s innovation driven economy upon graduation, what about those that just want to dip their toes in? Is there even a place in Boston for students that are actually risk averse? Speaking for the entrepreneurial duds of my generation (myself included), maybe the free thinking fire hasn’t been sparked within us yet. We have to go through the 9am-5pm data entry cycle, try the Ramen noodle diet, and start balding before we recognize our enterprising potential.

Luckily, we’re in the right place to be trying to “explore our thoughts” and “find our drive”. Boston is our security blanket; the city represents a level of comfortable change by letting us decide where to place ourselves within an accustomed setting that will also offer opportunities. For us younger students who are afraid of the upcoming unknown, Boston allows us to fulfill our own expectations of the city on our own accord, at our own pace, on our own time.

Boston, thank you for being so patient as we are starting out. All you need to do for us is to keep being so tolerant of past and forth coming mistakes, mishaps and antics. Within the city, my budding, idealess peers are inspired to seek out opportunity by the success of Kayak, Zipcar and other locally based start-up powerhouses. We’re pushed to take risks knowing that we have the freedom to fail. One venture can be striking out while another is on the brink of success. The city appreciates risk as a reward if you are successful, but also looks beyond dollar values to see failed risks as lessons learned. It is both comforting and motivating to know that it’s okay to drop the ball every now and then as we’re starting out.

Right now, I am holding up the lower end of the economic productivity scale. But at some point, that flickering flame inside me and my fellow sofa-sitting comrades will explode into an entrepreneurial bonfire fueled by the idea of success. In the meantime, I will settle for coasting onwards as the valiant couch potato of my business-pioneering generation.

Priya Kanjia is junior at Babson College who interned at Boston World Partnerships this summer.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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