Spotlight on Emily Akers / by Haley Smith

Meet Emily Akers - Next Gen Summit's Director of Events and Campus Outreach. She planned the incredible NGS@Harvard and puts the same heart and passion she put into the event into everything she does. 

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1. What has compelled your intrigue with entrepreneurship? 

 

For a long time, I struggled with the question, "What do I want to do with my life?" I grew up watching my brother excel in computer science (self-taught) and wanted to find my niche. As I spent a lot of time in the performing arts, I decided to pursue a degree in acting but upon my arrival at Penn State, I realized that I felt like I was underutilizing my talents. In identifying this problem, I was able to start exploring and found a passion for marketing, community development, and event planning. With my eyes open, I found myself noticing the work that my father and his girlfriend were doing. They were paving their own path and doing work that they were passionate about. They didn't label or pigeon-hole themselves. They called themselves "Entrepreneurs." It was a word that seemed superior to all in my mind. There was no singular definition that came to mind when I heard the word. It felt freeing. I call myself an entrepreneur because it means I can be whatever I want to be just like my mother and father have told me since I was little. I am proud to call myself an entrepreneur!

2. Tell us about planning NGS@Harvard.

 

Planning NGS@Harvard was an amazing experience that challenged me to grow and think outside of the box. We started with an idea and from there, it grew. I began with doing a lot of research around the schools in the area and which clubs would be interested in our event. I really loved doing outreach because I got the opportunity to talk to other students about what they were passionate about and their startups. The rest of the planning was like a scavenger hunt for the puzzle pieces. I think the most rewarding part of it all was seeing the faces of all of the attendees eager to learn and talk to each other. In the end, this experience was incredible and I wouldn't change it for the world. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat and I look forward to creating more events like this for future Next Gen members.

 

3. What was most memorable about the event?

The most memorable part of the event was seeing these two girls who were working on their startup. They took the time to go to every mentor and keynote speaker to pick their brains about various ideas and potential issues. One of the mentors motivated them to get their website up in the 24 hours following the event. It was amazing to see how excited and empowered they felt at the event to work on their startup. That's what Next Gen is all about, empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs to do what they love and rock the process!