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This is the official Blog for the STARTedUP Foundation. Look for Student Success Stories, Memoirs from Don Wettrick, Advice for young people, and more!

How One Student Navigated through Self-Discovery with STARTedUP

Written by: Allison Santa Rita

Austin, the live music capital of the world. San Antonio, the location the Alamo. When you hear those two cities in Texas, your mind probably goes to those facts about the city. However, when I think of Austin and San Antonio, I think of the amazing businessmen and women who are working there to help students like me pursue my passions and want to help guide me along the way. Whether that is through giving advice for my future, connecting me with other amazing people, or personally following alongside me to help with my future.

I received the opportunity to go to Austin through winning regionals of Innovate WithIN alongside my former business partner Kaleigh Newton. Our company provided me with knowledge that the average the 18-year-old would never learn. I learned how to form a business, communicate, teamwork, legal work, and even how to decide when/ how it is best to leave a company. After leaving Calm Balm, I felt more confused than ever because of all the choices I had to make, and questions I needed answered. What is next? Why this new plan? How will I pursue it? If I wrote every question, this could be the worlds longest and most boring blog post ever to be read. The truth is that I couldn’t answer them, especially not alone. I thought that because I left my previous business, STARTedUP wouldn’t want me to be apart of their program. Instead, they continued to walk next to me on my confusing journey and do their best to help me answer all the questions and make the best choices. Knowing that I had their support by me, I felt a little more comfortable going on the Texas trip with students who were still pursuing their business.

I didn’t know how impactful this trip would be for me considering I wasn’t apart Calm Balm anymore. However, once again, the STARTedUP founders provided me and all of the other students with an educational, inspiring experience. Through the empowering messages of big corporations such as Google and Dell to startups around Austin and San Antonio, I learned many truths of starting a business to even maintaining one. At each place, there was something new to learn, and I want to share with all of you reading these things I learned on this trip. 


There is no better time than now to create the time for me to pursue my passions.

Before this trip, I struggled with how important it was to pursue my passion. I could have continued my business and felt safer because I was a student entrepreneur, but instead, I left to pursue my biggest passion in life which is debatably one of the least “comfort blanket” career fields around, journalism. However, while visiting Google, I learned that it is important to pursue my passion and to make the time to do so. They have a cool rule for their workers, where 80% of their time is for their actual job, and 20% is to pursue a passion of theirs. Having a big corporation like Google push their workers to pursue their passion helped me see the importance of me pursuing mine, especially at my age. Another person who pushed the importance of following our passions was Charity Charge’s, Stephen Garten. Some of us had the opportunity to be on his podcast where he and Ava Wettrick pointed out that there is no better time than now for us students to pursue our passion. We are at an age where we don’t have many responsibilities that tie us down and prevent us from going after them. Through touring Google and sitting down with Stephen Garten, it helped give me peace that it is okay to pursue my passion at such a young age and how important it is to make the time to do so.

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Push through the rough times and don’t accept failure, instead learn from each mistake.

After hearing about how important it is to follow our passions from amazing people at Google and Charity Charge, I was still unsure of what I was doing. I didn’t know how to pursue journalism in a way that I could be passionate about for many years to come. I was still left with the fear of not being able to accomplish my passion because of questions I still didn’t have answered. However, again, I was blessed to be in the room with another amazing founder of a great company. While sitting down at Aceable and hearing Founder and CEO Blake Garrett’s story, he reminded everyone that it takes time and many different tries to accomplish our dreams. Just because we fail a few times we aren't supposed to give up, instead, we need to get up and keep trying and start over if needed. Failure is an option, and as Scribe Media’s President and CEO JT McCormick also stated, we need to look at failure as not a failure but a lesson. We need to take away something from each attempt to help us in the next one. Both Blake and JT shed light on the fact that when pursuing our dreams and passions, we will not be successful at first. It takes many tries and sometimes like Blake Garrett, we have to start from scratch and rework everything so that in the long run we will be more successful and fulfilled than we could have imagined. Through hearing that advice from two amazing businessmen, I thought about how that worked into my life and where I am now. I am on a path to pursue my dreams of working in the journalism field with many fears of failing at it. These men reminded me that failure is not only a fantastic time to learn, but in the end, it is an option.


Ask for help along the way from others who want to help you and see you succeed

Along the path of pursuing my passion, I like everyone else have lots of questions and am thankful to have people from STARTedUP to help me along the way. We need mentors to help us along our journey, and those are hard to find but thankfully getting easier, especially with bigger companies like Geekdom and Capital Factory. These two companies are working spaces that not only provide a great environment to pursue your dreams but also provide you with amazing mentors to help you along the way. While I was at Geekdom for a few days, I was blessed to connect with people who want to help me and get me connected with others in the journalism industry. These men and women are passionate about helping others, and without going to Geekdom, I would not have new people in my life to help me along my journey. I am at a time when I need as much mentoring as possible, I want to be the best I can be, and the only way to do so is with the help of other people. I was able to receive connections that I would have never had, and because of that, I am thankful not only for STARTedUP but for companies like Geekdom and Capitol factory who are built to help people like me connect with others to pursue our dreams and passions.

As someone who went into this trip no longer apart of my original business, I was scared. I was afraid of telling people I was no longer apart of a cool business with a good friend and feeling like I didn’t belong on the trip because I didn’t have everything figured out. However, as I went about the trip with STARTedUP, I learned that it is okay to “fail” or quit an original idea to pursue something I am more passionate about. After our talks with JT McCormick and Blake Garrett, I felt the assurance that it is okay to drop something either because it didn’t work out or even the passion isn’t there. JT had so much passion for his company and a journey on how he got to where he is today that was even more inspiring. The biggest lesson I learned this trip was that it is okay not to know exactly where you are going but continue to follow your passion, learn from each experience, and ask for help along the way. Without the fantastic opportunity to attend the cohort, I wouldn’t feel as confident going into my future. I wouldn’t have these amazing new connections and like-minded friends who are here to walk alongside my journey and help me grow into the person/ business women I want to be as I continue to follow my dreams.