Hobbyist turned Entrepreneur

Zsalina Allen
Emphasis Area
Spatial Organization & Design Thinking

Zsalina Allen developed her entrepreneurship skills, as she launched her polymer clay small business, ZsasClayCreations.

Why did you choose your internship?

I chose to start my own Etsy shop because I’ve always enjoyed art and wanted to start my own business. I had recently completed PAH 420 Innovation and the Human Condition (which focuses on entrepreneurial leadership) and a minor in Marketing. From those courses, I wanted to find an experience where I could apply what I learned to a real-life scenario. Prior to picking this internship, I actively pursued and applied to traditional internships, however I found a lot of them only focused on one aspect such as marketing and didn’t focus much on the entrepreneurship side. With Stephanie Springer's (the Applied Humanities Internship Director) encouragement, I created an experience that would work with both fields. 

What new knowledge and skills did you develop in this internship?

The focus of my internship was to learn the process behind and create my own business, gain knowledge about customer outreach, and develop more marketing strategies. This also included analyzing sales, recognizing patterns and managing profit and loss. From this experience, I was able to gain a better understanding on how a startup is created and run. I also was able to learn more skills in leadership, communication, organization and time management. I think that these skills are especially important today since there has been an increase in people working from home and needing to minimize distractions and continue to collaborate with others online. This experience also gave me the opportunity to reflect on my interests and try something new that I may not have otherwise done. I found it very rewarding to be able to make things people wanted as well as being able to work with people making their vision a reality. I also found this to be a good opportunity to combine my interests and previous coursework which also made my internship a meaningful experience.

What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship?

My advice for students who are interested in pursuing a nontraditional internship, whether that be starting their own business or pitching an internship to a company, is to create a network or team that can help you develop your idea. By connecting with professors, advisors, and other professionals, you can refine your idea or pitch which can help you when you want to pursue a startup or approach a company.