Sprout is an annual immersion trip to San Francisco for students from across Northwestern who are interested in entrepreneurship. It's run by EPIC, Northwestern's entrepreneurship student organization. Both EPIC and Sprout are student run programs supported by The Garage through limited funding and co-working space. As a journalism student who knew relatively little about the world of entrepreneurship, I approached the opportunity to go on Sprout with both eagerness and anxiety. Sprout, offered through the student entrepreneurship organization on campus, EPIC, believes having an entrepreneurial mindset is important no matter what students do after college, and created the program to give students an immersive experience in the undeniable startup capital, Silicon Valley.
I was afraid that I would appear out of place, especially when compared to my mostly technical peers. However, my anxieties were quickly subdued once I was actually on the trip. Over the five days of the trip, I had the opportunity to learn more about roles in the startup world that I could actually envision myself in and do so with a great group of people I may not have otherwise known.
During my time in San Francisco and Palo Alto, I was immersed in the world of startups and entrepreneurship. We visited a wide variety of companies, each with a seemingly more motivating mission than the last. Our group saw behind the scenes of a vertical farm looking to change the way produce is grown and people are fed. We got to explore the beautiful building that is home to Slack, a messaging platform I use daily. We even had the opportunity to receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Tesla factory that was reminiscent of a carnival ride. However, even with all of the site visits and talking to interesting people, we still managed to find time to explore the city and get to know the other members of our group.
One of the best aspects of being on the Sprout trip was getting to meet the Northwestern alumni who are currently working in roles that our group aspires to obtain. I found it inspiring to meet a former Medill student who now works for her own tech consulting agency and an employee in Slack who had studied theater at Northwestern.
Not only were these people took the "less traditional" path into the world of startups and Silicon Valley, but they were thriving in their roles. They were encouraging to me and made me feel like I could follow a path like theirs, too. The importance of having people to look up to is important in any profession and Sprout was able to provide me with those people and help me build a valuable network. Now that I have a better understanding of what a life pursuing entrepreneurship would look like, I am able to do so with enthusiasm and excitement!