Austin Hawn ’15 – The summer for many Wabash students can be a time for relaxation and recovery from the rigor provided by the schedule that a Wabash man experiences during the school calendar. Many Wabash men however, search for ways to better themselves during the break, while taking a mild respite from the realm that they have become accustomed to that the Wabash experience nurtures. This summer, I have been fortunate enough to take on the challenge of working with ShowcaseU, through the Lilly Business Internship Fund.
As an intern at ShowcaseU, I was able to continue my education in an unconventional fashion. This opportunity, although very different from a classroom, has proven to be extremely valuable. One reason I consider my internship to be successful is due to the privilege of working for the co-founder of ShowcaseU, Jake Chapman. He demonstrates entrepreneurship and small business at its finest, assuming many responsibilities while devoting maximum energy to his work. Jake has allowed me to learn some business lessons by providing firsthand experience, as well as discussing, teaching, and sharing many ideas. As a student aspiring to take advantage of small business opportunities, I couldn’t have asked for someone better to learn from.
From Jake, I have learned that it is possible to make a living doing something you are passionate about. Just as many students are encouraged to study what they have a passion for; Jake has taken a similar path for his career. As a young baseball player that was overlooked by many talent evaluators, Jake paid a large sum of money to a recruiting service to help market his skills, but he did not receive any scholarship offers. However, Jake made a college roster as a walk-on in his hometown of Rensselear for St. Joseph’s College. Once in college, Jake took responsibility to market his abilities on his own. He attended professional tryouts where scouts saw him and convinced his college coach to give him a shot. Jake made the most of his opportunity as he was drafted and played professionally in the minors. Jake noticed though, that throughout college and in professional baseball there were players that weren’t much better than players Jake had played with at lower levels. From this experience, Jake created Showcase U, a self promoting recruiting tool for high school students.
Along with this valuable lesson, Jake and I have been able to have many conversations about small business ideas while traveling. These discussions ranged from a large-scale outlook at running a business to the evolution that Showcase U has made to become more profitable. Themes such as possessing a vision for your business, partnering with other companies and refining your product or craft have been points of discussion. Perhaps the most important topic was the discussion centered on a lifelong education. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn in an environment that has been able to both teach and challenge me. I’m looking forward to seeing what else I will be able to learn in the final weeks of my internship.