The unexpected entrepreneur

For Zac Gonzalez, a senior economics major who is earning a minor in entrepreneurship, his dual involvement in the Shuford Program and Entrepreneurship Center at the business school influenced his career path in ways he hadn’t imagined. As a first-year student at Carolina, he didn’t realize he’d take the path of an entrepreneur.

“I’ve had a wider entrepreneurial experience because I was willing to touch all the different entrepreneurship opportunities,” he says. “The entrepreneurship minor network is fundamentally different than the Adams network. And what they teach at the business school is different than what the Shuford Program teaches. But learning all those things has been hugely beneficial.”

“The e-minor is a good introduction into entrepreneurship. It showed me how people start companies and what a potential career path could be,” says Gonzalez. “And then the Adams Apprenticeship taught me how to do something with it. I want to work at startups, but I don’t know what I’m going to do or when I’m going to do it. I now have the tools to be an entrepreneur.”

“The e-minor is a good introduction into entrepreneurship. It showed me how people start companies and what a potential career path could be,”

Zac Gonzalez

As he gained interest in entrepreneurship, Gonzalez was able to participate in the Adams Apprenticeship. “The Adams Apprenticeship solidified that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and live that lifestyle,” he adds. “I met countless entrepreneurs and learned a lot about developing soft skills as well as developing a network.”

Gonzalez experienced the startup life firsthand through the Burch Fellows Program, where he lived in Palo Alto, CA, for a semester and interned with HVR Software.

“This was one of the best decisions I ever made. It was the most impactful decision career-wise I’ve made at Carolina,” he adds. “It was a pivotal career move that helped me move to the next step.”

Gonzalez doesn’t take lightly all the knowledge he’s gained as a student entrepreneur. And he hopes to help other students learn similar lessons by working in the Entrepreneurship Center to develop a student internship program.

“Now is the greatest time to build connections in the entrepreneurial community. Don’t be afraid to get involved in activities on campus… take a leap,” says Gonzalez. “Now is a good time to network with the people you’re in school with because five-to-seven years down the line, you may need help or funding for a startup. Now’s the time to forge those connections, and focus on your network.” 

 Follow parts two through four of our “Entrepreneurship education for all” series published each week this February.