Today we hear from Dana Fortini, a first year at Booth with a perspective on the Entrepreneurial track. Read on to learn more about Dana!
Hello Prospective Students!
My name is Dana Fortini and I am a first year student at Booth. I am a born and bred New Yorker, with the exception of a year or so that I have spent in Spain. My undergrad years were spent at NYU Stern, where I graduated with a degree in Finance and Marketing, a minor in Mathematics, and a concentration in Entertainment, Media, and Technology. (Yes, I still managed to have a life!) After graduation, it was off to Protiviti, where I was a financial risk consultant with a range of high-profile clients in the financial services industry. In my heart, I always knew that something more entrepreneurial was my calling. At the beginning of this year, a business development position for a client-services based start-up presented itself, and I quickly seized the opportunity. Then it was off to Spain, where I received a diploma in Spanish proficiency and made contacts for my future business. I came to Booth to acquire a skill set more conducive to entrepreneurial undertakings; my ultimate goal is to start a vinoteca (a wine retail space by day, wine bar by night) in the US that specializes in Iberian products. This summer, I would love to have an internship in the wine and spirits industry, either in operations or marketing/ business development.
I chose Booth due to its academic flexibility and strong reputation in entrepreneurship. Starting a business requires a breadth of skills and knowledge. By taking a spectrum of courses, rather than concentrating in one particular industry or area, I felt I could emerge a more well-rounded businessperson. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship was also a huge deciding factor for me. After visiting for a day, they made me feel extremely welcome! The Polsky Center provides a tremendous amount of support for students pursuing entrepreneurship via lab coursework, assistance in finding internships, and the New Venture Challenge. The value of these resources and support systems cannot be overlooked which leads me to the topic of my first post…
The Booth Environment
If I had to pick a single factor that has highlighted my experience at Booth during my first month, it would be how supportive the faculty, my classmates, leaders within student organizations, and Career Services are of my goals.
Before coming to Booth, I certainly raised a few eyebrows with my declaration that I wanted to start my own business, a business with high overhead costs at that. Reponses ran the gamut from “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea” to “Dana, are you crazy? With this economy, you expect people to buy from you?”
It’s not necessarily tangible, but to be immersed in the positive energy and supportive environment within the Booth community have been incredibly motivating. As I’ve been meeting fellow students, I’ve received so many enthusiastic responses and offers of support; some students have even offered to assist me with the New Venture Challenge (NVC), an annual competition through the Polsky Center that allows students to present their business plans, receive feedback from judges and seasoned entrepreneurs, and potentially receive funding to make the plan a reality. Preparing for the NVC has been complementary to my coursework at Booth in that both reinforce and help me better understand all of the requirements of starting and running a business.
I am also extremely appreciative of Career Advisors, the second-year students who have taken time to help get my resume and my elevator pitch in perfect condition. It’s no easy task to refine these two critical elements of the internship search, but I have received a great deal of guidance over the past month. In addition to the formal resume reviews provided by Career Advisors, I have found that many second-years in the student organizations at Booth will also review resumes for first-years. There are also second-year students, who after reviewing my resume, have put me in touch with contacts from their networks. As one second-year said to me: “If you ever need anything, ask.”
Professor Linda Darragh has also been instrumental in my early phase of the networking process at Booth. I first spoke with Professor Darragh at an information session for the Booth Food Business and Agriculture Industry Club. She helped me identify contacts and former mentees that have specialized in importing Spanish goods to the Chicago area. Not only are these contacts excellent resources and leads (and I plan to learn a tremendous deal from them!), but Professor Darragh has encouraged that I update her and keep her aware of my progress. Despite how busy professors are, they have a genuine interest in the career development of their students.
All of the mentorship and assistance I have received over the past month has further strengthened my determination to start my own business. I am surrounded by 1,000+ students and professors who believe in me and genuinely want me to succeed. The environment at Booth: of support, encouragement, and positivity, with students and professors who are ready and eager to help and better refine business ideas, confirms that I am in the right place.