The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

First graduate and then find a job, SMU entrepreneurs do it differently

Valerie & Valerie owners
Siena Beacham
Valerie & Valerie owners

Valerie & Valerie owners (Siena Beacham)

 

SMU senior Valerie Exnicios and recent graduated Valerie Lindenmuth laughed with each other as they gathered information packets and brochures in preparation for their 6:15 p.m. marketing mixer.  Their color coordinated linen pants and silk blouses matched the “modern-vintage chic” décor of their perfectly put together Mockingbird Station studio office space.  The two could not help but smile as they bounced around the room finishing last minute details before heading out the door.

The Delta Gamma big and little sisters celebrated the launch of their new company Valerie & Valerie Weddings and Events in February.  They spent the last year planning for this moment.  Now, they attend social events as new business owners, to build their network in the local event industry.

With their first wedding in the works, the two reflect on how they balance both school and work demands.  Lindenmuth says, “It was about my junior year when we started thinking about the idea of V&V.  As a senior my time was split evenly between school, the SMU track team and creating our business.”  Exnicios continues to master this balance as she works toward graduation this May.

The Valeries each come from entrepreneurial families and understood that the corporate career path was not for them.  Their creativity and zest for adventure led them to create a company they are passionate about.  They chose to develop V&V instead of applying to work for local event planning companies, which they said gave them the power to dictate their professional future, something students today cannot find easily.

With the current U.S. unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the overwhelming possibility of accruing large amounts of debt, it is no wonder students like Exnicios and Lindenmuth chose entrepreneurship.  Their self-designed work schedule, self-appointed responsibilities and individually selected clients allow for more job security.

As a global phenomenon, entrepreneurship is on the rise as young people attempt to combat the unfortunate circumstances of the current job market.  The Huffington Post writes that there are about 400 million active entrepreneurs worldwide, and of those, 165 million are ages 18 to 35.

According to a Rutgers University study, only 51 percent of four-year college graduates have maintained full-time employment over the last five years.  Additionally, each student has accumulated an average of $27,000 of tuition debt.

In March 2012 SMU graduate Natalie Blankenship started her digital marketing agency, New Digital Strategies.  From creating content for blogs and other social media platforms to executing creative campaigns, the company strives to build a brand’s online presence and grow its customers’ awareness.

Blankenship says, “I think the job market is horrible.  Now more than ever before, it is important to create your own opportunities and prove to people why you’re worth their money.”  She said she was uncomfortable with self-promotion but recognizes that it takes more than sending in your resume to get hired.  Blankenship said that one could take the initiative to design a new position in a company he or she may already work for.

With no boss to work under and no one to take commands from, a personally-constructed career can be attractive.  Blankenship says, “Working for myself means I can work wherever and whenever I want.  However, that also means I’m always on call and accessible to my clients.”

Starting a company right out of college can be daunting.  Society may not accept that a newly graduated 20-something has skills that are comparable to a professional with years in a certain industry.

Both Exnicios and Lindenmuth have been working in event coordination since high school.  Between internships and full-time jobs, they have planned 75-100 parties and weddings combined in the past three years.

Lindenmuth says, “We are our age and we have definitely put in the work to prove what we can do.”  Exnicios feels she does not need to hire a PR firm to represent Valerie & Valerie after all that she has learned thus far.

Using time wisely in college to gain experience in a student’s field of interest can leverage his or her potential for professional success after the four years are up.   Business News Daily asked small business owners and a diverse group of experts to predict the top trends of 2013.  According to Sam Caucci of Sales Huddle Group, “internships will be on the rise in 2013.”

When it comes down to it, Exnicios says, “Why not go for the dream and do what you love?  It is important to think and chose the path you really want to follow.  For my partner and I, that was the path less chosen.”

 

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