GVSU students and graduates talk entrepreneurship #innovate

Peter Chhum

The Grand Valley State University Alumni Association held a “Tweet Up” on Feb. 4 to encourage students, faculty and alumni to make connections and build a professional rapport with entrepreneurs.

With a panel consisting of GVSU alumni and current entrepreneurs, the speakers fielded questions from those physically in attendance and using the hashtag #GVtweetUP on Twitter.

Panelists shared their career trajectories and experiences on what has helped them become successful after graduating. Their common denominator, and message of the night, was innovation.

GVSU alumnus and current environmentalist consultant, Mark Bryson, shared some advice with current Lakers that he has discovered since being out of school.

“Keep your options open,” Bryson said. “You’re studying a specific field, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck to that. It means you are very knowledgeable in that area, but you don’t want to limit yourself to just one kind of career with that knowledge.”

Bryson has used this unguarded mindset to survey career options that use his degree and skill set in an array of positions.

“I have a chemistry degree, but that doesn’t mean I have to work in a lab,” he said.

Many alumni shared the same sentiments, saying they found that their experiences at GVSU prepared them to experiment with different career options.

Felip Ballesteros, an alumnus and now the Marketing Director at GR Current, mentioned how he used his collegiate experience to capitalize on the opportunities that awaited him upon graduating.

“I still don’t know if I did college right,” Ballesteros said. “Going in I had no clue what I was going to major in and I switched like five times. But I took the idea and the concept of what a university does, which is to train you to be an analytical thinker and critical thinker, and to apply that knowledge in whatever we do.”

A panelist at the event, Mark Holzbach, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate and co-founder of Zebra Images, fielded a question about the fear of failure.

Holzbach affirmed the importance of following one’s passion and doing what one truly loves — no matter what challenges may await.

“I think failure is when you’re not true to yourself,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing that I think is failure.”

As the speakers preached innovation as a way to succeed professionally, the theme of the night appropriately matched the namesake.

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