There numerous student groups that build professional skills and many others that are dedicated to helping others, but what about an organization that combines both?
Enactus, an international non-profit with over 62,000 student members worldwide, challenges students to create change through entrepreneurial endeavours and develop their professional skills through positive actions.
This week’s Student Group Of The Week is Enactus’ University of Toronto chapter. They’ve taken the Enactus philosophy and run with it, organizing projects like adVenture, a three-month entrepreneurship project and business competition, and Women of Wonders, which helps abused and at-risk women achieve their short- and long-term financial goals.
Taufiq-uz-Zaman, Enactus U of T’s Executive Vice President, and Alvin Ahn, the Project Manager of adVenture’s Business Plan Competition, took the time to chat with us about the group and what it offers its members. Taufiq is a Commerce student in his final year, and Alvin is a third year Employment Relations and Economics student.
How did you get involved with Enactus at U of T?
Taufiq: I became familiar with the organization after seeing representatives at the university clubs fair. I decided to join the team after a friend highly recommended them to me.
Alvin: After I came across the description for adVenture, “a project that empowers and educates aspiring student entrepreneurs,” I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It sounded like a project that is not just for the smartest and the most skillful people, but for people who a share similar passion to achieve their goals.
Before joining, how can students decide which group is best for them?
Taufiq: Familiarize yourself with all of the groups out there, as there are a lot to choose from. What’s most important though, is to get involved with something that caters to your interests.
Alvin: Students should align their interests with the group’s objectives. For instance, last week I only slept four hours per night because I was busy taking care of the project. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I wasn’t working on something I’m interested in and passionate about. If you are not truly interested in and enjoy what you are doing, you will eventually break down.
What has been your most memorable experience with the group so far?
Taufiq: My memorable experience was to represent my university in front of hundreds of people in the regional and national expositions.
Alvin:It was when I had a team meeting at a restaurant. When I took a lead in this project, it was already three months behind schedule. As soon as members were recruited, we had to start preparing for the competition very rigorously.
Consequently, we gained 160% more participants than last year after two months of intensive preparation. The adVenture team worked so hard that we had no time to celebrate our achievement, but finally, we had a dinner after the second event.
Even though we were having a team meeting during the dinner and we are not even halfway through to the competition, it was a relieving moment for everyone.
What valuable experience and skills have you gained as a member of Enactus U of T?
Taufiq: I learned how to be an effective leader and have improved my time-management, multi-tasking and presentation skills.
Alvin: I am still learning and gaining a lot of skills through adVenture. I am learning how to write concisely and formally, how to manage and distribute my time well, the steps of making the best decision, how to have an effective meeting, how to delegate, how to organize events, different marketing strategies, how to organize tasks and most of all how to balance what I enjoy and what I have to do.
What are your career ambitions? How will the skills you’ve gained help you in your future career?
Taufiq: I hope to pursue a career in banking. Enactus has helped me improve on a lot of skills and has also given me the opportunity to network with many business professionals.
Alvin: My future goal is to become an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. The skills I’ve mentioned above are not just helpful to achieve my future goals — they will continuously support me throughout my career.
What advice do you have for your fellow students?
Taufiq: Get involved and do it soon. A lot of students hesitate to get involved early on in their university careers.
Alvin: Until the third year of university, I thought that I should only focus on studying, which is something I regret. I want to tell all the students to enjoy every moment in life. There are countless people we can meet, various valuable experiences, and numerous opportunities out there waiting for us to grasp.
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