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Interview with Claire Wickenden, UTC College of Business 2015 Graduate

Amanda Ellis

“I graduated in May 2015 with a degree in Marketing, but I took several classes in entrepreneurship throughout my time at UTC. My senior year, I interned for The Enterprise Center, a nonprofit organization working to establish Chattanooga as a hub of innovation. Through this opportunity, I was able to meet and network with many local startups and entrepreneurs in Chattanooga. It led me to my current marketing position at Rapid RMS, a software startup developing iPad-based retail management systems.”

Q: How do you believe studying entrepreneurship helped you in the real world?
A: In addition to working for a startup, I do freelance web design and digital marketing in my spare time. I am able to use what I've learned at UTC in situations every day, whether it's more large-scale with Rapid RMS or small-scale with my freelance projects. Studying entrepreneurship exposed me to hands-on, real world situations that startups and entrepreneurs face every day. Many of UTC's entrepreneurship professors have started successful businesses themselves and were able to share their valuable advice and knowledge in my classes. This prepared me for much of what I do in my work that I never would have expected otherwise. There were many hands-on projects in my classes where I had the opportunity to work with local startups or go through the process of starting a business with classmates. 

Q: Why is it important to go to school prior to starting a business as opposed to just jumping in?
A: I think it's very important to go to school first. The startup community often hosts educational and networking events for students and provides internship opportunities to gain experience. There are clubs and organizations through UTC where you can meet other students interested in entrepreneurship. Professors offer mentorship and you can develop your business ideas while learning and gaining valuable insights and advice from leaders in the community. Looking back at where I was four years ago, I can see how much going to school and getting involved has brought me to where I am today.

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