#1 Advice for an Incoming College Student: Get Involved.

Julia and Emily smiling
Julia Haber (left) and Emily Pearson (right).

By Emily Pearson

Going to college can be one of the scariest things one might do in their early adult years. It is a time for new opportunities and new relationships to set the foundation for your professional years to come. In my case, I was very nervous for college. I was moving from the big city of Los Angeles all the way across the country to upstate, in what I considered, rural New York. Prior to going to college, I was someone who enjoyed my time at school. I loved being involved, I had multiple internships and was very ambitious in many parts of my life. Going to college was nerve wracking because I wanted that to continue but I didn’t know how yet. 

When I got to college, there were so many things I wanted to try. I remember my freshman year RA giving me loads of advice on how to be an involved student: “Go to office hours, introduce yourself and tell them you’ll be a good student. No one goes.” Another mentor told me: “You’ll learn more in extracurriculars than you will in class”. I wrote it all down.  I signed up for numerous clubs, went to many events on professional development and took classes that challenged my perspective. 

There was one class in particular I was very eager to take: EEE370 Intro to Entrepreneurship. At the time I was a second semester freshman in college unable to take the class because it was reserved for sophomores or higher. So instead of signing up for a new class, I petitioned to get in. I emailed the Whitman School of Management and met with the professor to convince them why I should be in this class. That professor’s name was Linda Hartsock, also the Director of the Blackstone Launchpad at Syracuse University. I met with Linda and after discussing my academic experience and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, I was in the class. 

Second semester began and I was very excited for this new course, it was my first college class outside of my typical design schedule. I learned a lot from this class including business vocabulary, starting a business based on your interests and how to tell a story. Oftentimes Linda would bring in student entrepreneurs to show the class, one, how to pitch a business and, two, as the director for the Launchpad, she wanted her students to practice. One day Linda brought in a student named Julia Haber, Founder of her startup: WAYV. WAYV is a company that creates pop up shop experiences with brands directly on college campuses. Julia, at the time a senior in college and in the beginning stages of her company, came into the class confident, engaging and by far had the best pitch I had heard. She pitched her business WAYV and there were two things that I still remember from that class. After her pitch, Linda told the class “Julia is someone whose name you will know in 5 years. She is going far.” Another takeaway from the class was from someone sitting in the front row who raised their hand and asked Julia, “How do you know when someone is interested in your idea?”. Julia said “Body language. 2 minutes ago you went from sitting back into your chair to leaning in and I could tell you were curious”. From that moment on, I was blown away. Not only did I relate to the idea of understanding body language in someones expressions but WAYV, her company, was one I believed in. After class I emailed the professor and asked her how I could connect with Julia. 

I met with Julia the following weekend at Cafe Kubal early on a Saturday morning about what she was working on. Julia told me she was working on her first pop up with Rent The Runway and she could use my help as a designer. As an inexperienced freshman in college, I nervously told Julia I’m all in. 

For the next 3 months we pulled together a pop up in true startup fashion. The location changed 3-4 times, we spent as little money as possible and spent hours a day building whatever we could. I have memories of painting the abandoned print shop in Marshall Square Mall, hand cutting out hundreds of stickers, spray painting toy trucks as a demo for investors in her apartment, driving to At Home at Destiny Mall asking them if we could possibly “rent” furniture for an event, and sitting on our hands and knees of Marshall Square Mall to put colored taped on the floor to try and pull people to the far back hidden corner of this mall for our event. The event was a huge success. We had hundreds if not thousands of students come to this 2 day event to experience real brand interaction for the first time in “rural” Syracuse, New York. Following the event, I have helped Julia with multiple projects such as joining the first WAYV team, interviewing summer WAYV interns, brainstorming for a summer event called Meet WAYV, and putting together assets for YOU+ Shopify x WAYV.    

3 months ago I came home from studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Sad and confused, I was at home distance learning like millions of other college students around the world. During my time at home, Julia Haber reached out to me not to worry about how her current business would do given the current market, but in classic Julia fashion, she already had a new idea in the works- Home From College. Home From College is the new digital platform where students will have the ability to consume short-form videos and learn about the ethos behind some of the most successful leaders across varying industries, such as media, business, technology, finance, fashion and more.

Julia Haber, Founder and CEO of HFC, was quickly pulling together the best team possible to launch this new platform for millions of students around the world who were left with summer plans canceled. Again, I was all in. Within 6 weeks this incredible team has worked so hard to create a platform that brings students a little bit of hope about the reality of their upcoming summers.

Today Home From College has over 16K followers on Instagram, thousands of students signed up for our community page and a team that continues to grow everyday. Our team builds out unique opportunities and actionable experiences college students can participate in to further their careers such as office hours with industry leaders, mentor matching programs, like-minded networking, mirco internships/projects, and short term media content. 

If you would have told me as a senior in high school that I would be working for multiple startups in college and actively working at the Blackstone Launchpad, I would have never believed you. I have to thank Julia Haber for believing in me. When I first connected with Julia I was a timid freshman looking for something to become passionate about as well as a designer who often gets “imposter syndrome” because someone who was an upperclassmen could do the work better. Julia is now a long time mentor and friend who has taught me more than I could imagine I would have when going to college. It was those initial steps as a new freshman on campus of going out of my way to get involved and learning from those who mentored me, that have continuously created new opportunities and lifelong achievements that have brought me to where I am today. 

To learn more about Home From College visit www.homefromcollege.co.

Editor’s note: 

In less than a month, Home From College, founded by Syracuse University alum Julia Haber ’18 (Newhouse) has gained an immense following of college students across the country.  The  Home From College website launched in May with more than 3,500 students completing a profile in the first three weeks on the Community sign-up section of the website. In just its first month, HFC hosted its first live “Office Hours” featuring actor Christian Navarro with a huge audience and ran an impactful Instagram campaign around inclusivity, education and BLM resources, including an “87 Ways You Can Help” post that received more than 1.3 million impressions and received over 240K likes, reshared countless times by celebrities and large brand accounts.

The HFC team is growing rapidly, with current college students and a growing number of post-grad, experienced professionals that are also making meaningful contributions. Future community offerings include office hours, internship opportunities and 2009 Club Mentor-Mentee matching.

Julia Haber is a member of the Blackstone LaunchPad Founders Circle and launched WAYV as a Syracuse University student.  WAYV is a community that creates and unlocks hyper-tailored experiences for college students across the country.

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