Hi everyone! My name is Zachary Golden and I am currently a senior innovation and entrepreneurship major at Clarkson University. I’ve had an incredible experience at Clarkson, and I wanted to share with you why I decided to attend Clarkson, why I chose business as my area of study and what my journey has been like thus far.
I chose Clarkson with my mind set on the future. When I made my college decision, I was choosing with a long-term mindset. Instead of making a decision based solely on my next four years, I thought it would be best to make my decision based on where I wanted to be in the next 10 years. When I took this mindset, Clarkson was the obvious choice. Year in and year out, Clarkson develops incredible entrepreneurs and the leaders of tomorrow. The school not only prepares students via traditional education, but has the connections to propel graduates into illustrious, successful careers.
It’s one thing to make that statement, but it’s another to prove it. I think that my experiences at Clarkson do prove it.
I am from Brick, New Jersey, and I actually am the first one from my high school, Princeton Day School (PDS), to attend Clarkson. I had a great experience at PDS and I feel PDS and Clarkson actually have a great connection in both their STEM programs and Clarkson’s Ignite initiative (you can learn more about Clarkson Ignite in this separate blog post by managing director Erin Draper). I enjoy going back to PDS and talking with current students and the PDS college counselors about all I have been able to accomplish here at Clarkson.
Back in high school, I was a U.S. Soccer Development Academy soccer player. I played internationally in Spain and China and went to tryouts for two MLS teams back in the U.S., one of which actually extended to me a professional, homegrown contract. The team offered a potentially exciting future over the course of the next 10 years. I could go play D-I soccer, declare for the MLS SuperDraft and potentially play professional soccer for the team. Then I thought about what would happen 10 years from now: I would be retired from my professional soccer career, would not have a college degree, would not have made enough to live off of for the rest of my life and would only be qualified to coach soccer. I decided, I need to step back and think about this long-term. Where do I want to be 10 years from now?
I often think prospective students of any college look at the decision as, “How can I make the next four years the most fun and least stressful before I start working for the rest of my life?” I always recommend that these students, no matter what college they end up choosing — and even if they don’t choose to go to college — should use the famous “10, 10, 10 mindset”: How are you going to feel 10 days after you make this decision? How are you going to feel 10 months after you make this decision? How are you going to feel 10 years after you make this decision?
After visiting and learning more about the University, I knew that Clarkson was by far the obvious choice regarding all three time frames.
Not surprisingly, I started out at Clarkson playing for the men’s soccer team. In the spring of my sophomore year, I got a co-op with Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Upon completion of this co-op, I truly did not want to stop working, and the company didn’t want me too, either. J&J offered me a contract extension to stay on with the company as a part-time employee working from Clarkson. I have now worked for my current team, the Global Logistics Action Center, for 1.5 years, rotating between different global roles. Most of the time, my role has technically been based in the U.S., but with global contacts, I did have a four-month stint supporting our Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) team based in Courcelles, Belgium. I could not stop taking classes for the semester, so I worked on Belgium time from Clarkson for those few months. I have been with the company as a whole for a little over two years. The experience has been absolutely life-changing.
Clarkson has six business majors – global supply chain management, business intelligence and data analytics, engineering and management, financial information and analysis, mathematical economics and my major, innovation and entrepreneurship. Funny enough, despite being an innovation and entrepreneurship major, I work in supply chain data analytics at J&J. Innovation and entrepreneurship does not necessarily prepare you for a specific career like the other majors do; it gives you the skill set needed to tackle problems in any part of an organization or startup, plus a framework for developing innovative solutions to problems, no matter the function. I think I have always had a passion for new ideas, crazy concepts and non-linear thinking. I have just taken the tools innovation and entrepreneurship has given me and applied them anywhere I have gone within the company.
After graduation, I will be joining J&J’s GOLD program. GOLD is the company’s Global Operations Leadership Development program. The GOLD program “offers three rotational assignments … operations, procurement, quality, planning, customer and logistics services, project and process engineering, facilities engineering and quality technical support” (J&J). It is their accelerated supply chain leadership program.
I will be graduating this spring, and, looking back at my four years, I am so incredibly happy I took the mindset I did.
My advice to you, high school readers, is to use whatever time you have left as a runway to launch into an incredible career and life. Don’t let this time go by and then look back 10 years from now and say, “Wow, I wish I hadn’t passed on that opportunity.”