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Are You a First-Gen Student? Then You can be an Entrepreneur Too

By: Yahaira Cortez


I'm a first-generation student at a university where only about 20% of its students identify themselves as minorities. When I came to UNL, I quickly felt too intimidated to ask questions because I didn't want the 80% to look down on me. However, I found that I couldn’t get around or find out what I didn’t know until I asked a few people a couple of questions. Just like a first-generation student, an entrepreneur needs to network, ask questions and take risks in order to get to their final destination. Below are three questions that helped guide me through college and I feel they can be of aide to an entrepreneur’s journey as well.


Who do you want to serve?

Building a community for first generation students is such a great way to build a support system, especially when you no longer live in the same city as your family. Entrepreneurs must also build a community and get to know the people who will use their product. Contact not only those who have a startup, but also those who are still working their way toward becoming a startup or who have had to close their businesses. Whether you are a first-generation student working towards your degree or an entrepreneur serving your target market, you will do yourself a favor by building a strong community.


Is this your side hustle or your main source of income?

As a first generation student, you are your own project. You are taking risks left and right to eventually be knowledgeable enough to receive your degree. Some students only go to class and do their assignments, while others will be really involved in organizations on top of their classwork and have a part time job as well because maybe they need to have that job as they’re going through school. The response to this question should depend on your financial situation, but it also goes back to taking a risk. When building a business with entrepreneurs, the business idea is their project, but that may only take up part of their day as they work their other job to pay the bills. Some will only focus on their project and not have another job because they feel the more time they dedicate to the project, the faster they will start to see results and income. However, you must consider if you can handle the risk of this kind of commitment.


Who can and will be a business mentor for you?

In college there are so many resources it’s overwhelming. It’s nice to have one person you can go to that can directly help you, which is why there are so many programs with mentors and you are given an academic advisor as well, to help you in different areas. Not only will they help you figure out what you want to know, but will also help with the things you didn’t know you needed to know. As an entrepreneur, you need someone you can trust to tell you the truth and not sugarcoat things. This person should be able to give you honest feedback and advice, and they should notice your strengths, weaknesses and more. As you build your experience, this person can be your extra eyes to catch things you miss.

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