Happy new year, everyone! Moving into 2017, we are excited to introduce a new monthly blog series, the NFTE Alum of the Month, highlighting one of our many talented and driven alumni. Our first Alumni of the Month, Sirena Bryan shares her NFTE insights and reflections with us.
During the 2014-2015 school year, Sirena participated in NFTE’s Owning Your Future entrepreneurship course and the Year-End Challenge business plan competition. In order to implement her business plan, Sirena participated in Startup Summer, a small business incubator that provides recent NFTE graduates with the resources and support to launch fully functional businesses.
How was NFTE different than your other classes?
SB: NFTE was much different from my other classes because it forced me to focus on the future of my business and my personal future. Compared to my other classes, it was definitely the one I looked forward to the most every day.
What was the biggest challenge throughout your NFTE class, and how did you overcome it?
SB: My biggest challenge with NFTE was networking. I was very shy and quiet at the start of the class so when it came to introducing myself and my business to multiple people, I was very scared. But after the class and the first few weeks in the Startup Summer program, I learned that everyone in the business field started out just like me – shy, quiet, and excited. It motivated me to start talking and let those who were interested know what my business was and what it could offer.
What advice would you give to current NFTE students?
SB: I would let current NFTE students know that running a business won’t be easy after NFTE. It’s as if you’re graduating from school and entering the real world. There will be competition against your business and people who won’t even take a second glance at your business, and that’s okay. Everything is a learning experience and once you learn from your experiences, there will be no stopping you.
How do you currently use the skills you gained from NFTE?
SB: Two of the most important skills I learned from NFTE are communication and calculation. I learned how to start and continue conversations and how to get my point across clearly, and I learned how to properly budget my money for what’s important before rushing towards spending money on something that I want.
Is there any way NFTE can further support you with entrepreneurship or skill-building now that you’re an alum?
SB: I’m grateful for all that my NFTE experience gave me. I learned how to create and develop a business, got exposed to great local businesses, and developed the courage to have a voice.NFTE has done more than I could have ever asked for.
Be on the lookout for our upcoming Alumni of the Month blog posts, and happy new year again to you!