Work-Work Balance: How Student Entrepreneurs Do Both

Between classes, extracurriculars, and an effort to have a social life, a college student’s day can get pretty busy. Amazingly, amidst all of these heavy time demands, some still find the time necessary to pursue careers as entrepreneurs.

“It can get tough to balance all the school work to stay on top, but it’s really about knowing how much you can take on,” explains DJ BenZ founder Reuben St. Marc (‘17). “Successfully balancing work and school is dependent on how you feel, how you want to move forward, and how organized you are with your planning.”

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St. Marc getting ready to perform

Since starting DJ BenZ following his freshman year at Cornell University, St. Marc has put a lot of effort into promoting his brand, negotiating deals, and performing at events; however, his commitment to his studies remains unchanged. “As a student, you have time off on the weekends which is when most of my gigs are scheduled. I am a student full time from Monday thru Friday and, usually, I DJ on the weekends. As a premed student with a Biology & Society major and an AEM minor, I constantly take solid course loads, and this semester I’m in 19 credits.”

For other students, like Comake co-founder Adler Faulkner (‘18), doing what’s best for the business sometimes means putting schoolwork aside. “I actually took last year off to work on this full time and try to dedicate as much of my time to this project as possible,” Faulkner says. “It’s been a lot of iteration and candid discussions between [me, my cofounder,] and our prospective users.”

Comake is an online platform that helps users to access and understand their files, with the ultimate goal of making them more collaborative. Faulkner has returned to Cornell, but his commitment to Comake remains the same, especially given that Comake recently earned a spot in Cornell’s eLab startup accelerator.

Faulkner adds, “We’ve been working on this for 18 months, and been in development for about a year. It’s a bit difficult managing both school work and this business, but we’re reaching a huge milestone now.”

Levy manages Maidbots business development

For other students, like Maidbot co-founder and Cornell student Alex Levy (‘18), college is the ideal time to start or work on a business. Maidbot hopes to revolutionize the hospitality industry by creating autonomous robots to supplement the work of hotel room attendants. For example, Maidbot’s first product, Rosie, cleans the floors of hotel bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, and more.

“Thankfully for us, a lot of the top people in the industry are from the hotel school,” Levy says. These connections, which Levy has built as a student in Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, have turned into meaningful business relationships for Maidbot.

According to Levy, “It’s not only networking with alumni from Cornell, but potential partners, mentors, and leaders that we’ll be working with for the rest of our careers.”

Life as a college student can be hard; life as an entrepreneur can be harder; life as a student entrepreneur can be hardest. But don’t say it’s impossible.

For more on the entrepreneurs that were featured in this piece, click on the links to their ventures for Entrepreneurship@Dyson’s full coverage.