Global Engagement Summit final speaker addresses methods to tackle post-college transition

Stavros Agorakis and Hangda Zhang

Passion is not something you can pursue directly, but rather it is a consequence of building intimacy with and curiosity about what you want to spend the rest of your life doing, said Teju Ravilochan, the final speaker of the Global Engagement Summit on Saturday.

Ravilochan, the co-founder and CEO of the Unreasonable Institute, an organization that unites entrepreneurs to address and find solutions to global social and environmental problems, spoke to more than 90 students in the Abbott Auditorium in the Pancoe Life Sciences Pavilion about focusing on one’s passion and developing it into a full-time career.

“I am fascinated by the question (of developing your passion), because I think it’s a fundamental human struggle,” Ravilochan told The Daily. “How do we do work that is meaningful to us?”

Ravilochan was the final speaker of the Global Engagement Summit, an annual conference hosted by Northwestern in which delegates from across the world attend lectures and workshops about social change.

He structured his talk around four pieces of advice, which he said he finds essential for exploring post-college transition. He said students should pursue something they’re curious about and become intimate with the subject matter. He added that students should experiment, amass a high volume of work and find supportive people.

Weinberg senior Ryan Kenney, co-chair of content development for GES, said Ravilochan’s talk was a great end to the conference, as the entire Northwestern community can benefit from his action-specific advice.

“Everything that was coming out of his mouth was actionable and specific and a useful system for all of our delegates to use as they approach their projects, certainly, and their lives in general,” he said.

Ravilochan said the perceived cost of failure often stands between experimentation and the willingness to try out new things. If people manage to get over their fear of rejection, they can accomplish their goals, from falling in love — a metaphor Ravilochan used throughout the presentation — to getting a job and exploring their entrepreneurial ideas, he said.

New York University student Jephthah Acheampong said he developed a personal connection with Ravilochan’s story. Acheampong said he will keep in touch with Ravilochan after the conference, as the speaker is someone who may potentially support his untraditional trajectory.

“I am graduating from college and I have some job offers lined up, but I really want to go down the entrepreneurship route,” said Acheampong, whose GES project focuses on equipping young adults in Ghana with business skills and knowledge to then work in emerging companies.

In a Q&A at the end of the talk, Acheampong asked Ravilochan what entrepreneurs should do if the people around them believe in them but don’t believe in the ventures they are passionate about.

“Nobody can really assess the quality of an idea,” Ravilochan said. “Just because someone thinks your idea is good or bad doesn’t necessarily mean anything. What’s important is how people are architecting their advice around your idea, what kind of questions they are asking.”

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Twitter: @stavrosagorakis

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