Land your dream job by pursuing an entrepreneurial idea while in school

Written by Li Liang

Pursuing an entrepreneurial idea is one of the best ways to set yourself apart from a large pool of job candidates because that process helps you cultivate the mindset and skills that employers of all types value highly.

Entrepreneurship is not necessarily about starting a business or a startup, although it can be. Entrepreneurship actually refers to pursuing an opportunity without regard to the resources you currently control (you will use the resources you do control, and mobilize resources you don’t yet control, such as getting people with the skills you need to join your team or fundraising).

Some examples of entrepreneurial ideas pursued by your fellow classmates include creating a Professional Clothing Closet for students in need at BU, a tech startup that streamlines the appraisal process in home buying, a nonprofit that creates spiritual and emotional health resources for diverse and vulnerable communities, and more.

University is one of the best times to pursue entrepreneurial ideas because you generally have more time, you have resources readily available from the university, and it’s your decision whether you want to continue your endeavor post-graduation.

How does pursuing an entrepreneurial idea prepare you and give you an edge for landing a great internship or full-time job?

It does so by enabling you (or requiring you), as part of the pursuit and learning process, to develop the following star employee qualities and skills that employers of all types look for:

  1. An entrepreneurial mindset
    1. Being curious to learn from new experiences, information, and people
    2. Being driven to make things work by setting goals and taking actions to achieve set goals
    3. Facing ambiguity with confidence and embracing risk-taking (this helps unlock unforeseen opportunities)
    4. Embracing failures to learn and grow from them even when the risk-taking didn’t result in success
  1. Entrepreneurial skills
    1. Analyzing and solving problems effectively and creatively (yes, you will encounter problems of all types and learn to see them as opportunities instead of problems!)
    2. Communicating persuasively to customers, stakeholders, and team members (and maybe even funders)
    3. Thinking strategically to always keep track of the big picture, goals, critical drivers, and aligning resources and activities to achieve your goals
  1. Ownership and leadership skills
    1. Taking ownership, because the whole idea is yours and making progress on it is your responsibility 
    2. Leading yourself to achieve your goals with commitment and accountability, enrolling others in your vision, and leading them to make that vision come true
  1. Knowing your “why”
    1. Exploring ideas and issues that you are passionate about, and building relationships with people who share your passions along the way
    2. Exploring different job functions through wearing many hats while working on your idea (working with customers, conducting research, developing solutions and strategies, managing projects and resources, marketing, building partnerships, getting people to join your team, etc.)
    3. Able to articulate your “why” confidently when deciding to pursue a certain career path or apply to certain jobs from having explored your passions and different job functions

If the biggest “obstacle” is you don’t feel that you have an entrepreneurial idea – coming up with an idea to work on is part of the learning! In coming up with and diving into working on an idea, you are training yourself to spot and analyze potential opportunities, hold yourself accountable, embrace ambiguity, and take risks (because no idea is guaranteed to succeed). These are, again, among the star employee qualities and skills that employers look for.

Pursue an entrepreneurial idea, and you will gain as much as you put into it for developing your career, finding purpose, and creating impact! The BUild Lab provides various programs and resources, as well as a supportive community and co-working space to help you get started anytime and make progress. You can also schedule an office hour appointment to talk about your idea(s) and questions with a BUild Lab staff member by emailing us at

Li Liang is the Managing Director of the Build Lab Student Innovation Center, which offers free coaching, extracurricular programming, and resources (including funding opportunities) to both undergraduate and graduate students from all 17 of the schools and colleges at BU to pursue entrepreneurial and startup ideas of all types. Among her experiences, Li has worked as a management consultant with Bain & Company, an innovation strategy consultant with Innosight, an international economic development consultant with a global nonprofit, and VP of Business Operations of a tech-based startup.

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