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Eliza Woodfin

Eliza Woodfin: How Bookkeeping at a Bakery Sparked an Interest in Entrepreneurship

As a senior at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia, Eliza Woodfin balances her time between academics and participating in her high school’s track team. Outside of school, she skis competitively and, during summers, works in a local bakery as a bookkeeper. That role taught her the fundamentals of operating a business and cultivated an interest in entrepreneurship.

What interests you most about entrepreneurship?

The freedom an entrepreneur has interests me. The autonomy they have over their career is something that I find very desirable. The ability entrepreneurs have to pull together all their knowledge from all aspects of life and apply it to their work is something rare in the workforce. While this work can be extremely taxing, it can also be very rewarding. I plan to continue studying business during undergraduate school and hopefully in graduate school.

Why did you choose to attend Columbia University's New York City Summer Immersion program?

I gained an interest in business through my time spent in similar programs and also through my job at the local bakery. Some of my friends who had participated in the program highly recommended it so I decided to look into it. Once I saw the incredible variety of classes available in the field I was interested in, I was very impressed. I decided to apply and I am so glad I did!

"I learned a lot about business and entrepreneurship from this program, which was very helpful and further enhanced my interest in the subject."

Which course did you take during the program?

I was in an entrepreneurship course entitled Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Changing the World via Venture Creation that focused on the mechanics of starting a business. The whole class was divided into teams of four to five students and together throughout the three weeks we developed a venture of our own. The assignment was to create a pitch for a venture that was feasible for the group. My group’s project focused on creating a service that would allow entrepreneurs to view issues or ideas that people have via public input and also connect with other entrepreneurs through an app.

What was your most memorable experience at Columbia?

I learned a lot about business and entrepreneurship from this program, which was very helpful and further enhanced my interest in the subject. I also learned from my professor Dr. Jack McGourty that you must have a healthy mindset in order to have a successful career and also a happier life. In my entrepreneurship class, we began each day with a meditation which was surprising at first, but as the three weeks went on I saw it as a very necessary part of our day. Dr. Jack made many points throughout the session that being focused was crucial to success.