80 Fellows. 66 candidates. 33 host companies. 100 executives. The “Super Bowl” of Orr Fellowship Events. Friday November 13th, 2015. Finalist day. Finalist day is a day where the top candidates from all around the Midwest venture to Indianapolis to interview with 4 (or occasionally 5) companies.
It seemed freaky to me that just one year ago, I was on the other side of the fence. Last year, as a candidate hoping to get the offer I had been striving for ever since I found out about the Governor Bob Orr Entrepreneurial Fellowship, I remember the event very differently than I did Friday’s event. I was nervous, unsure about what my future would hold, but certain that it was in the room I was about to enter. 8 hours and 5 interviews after the day began, I walked out of the interview hall with my mind racing. All 5 of my interviews had been incredible. How was I supposed to rank the 5 companies I had just met? Somehow I managed and trusted the process as so many of the active fellows had advised me to do.
Spoiler alert: by some combination of fate, luck, and chance (if you believe in those things), I made it into the Orr Fellowship. Fast-forward a year—I now work for DuraMark Technologies where I have been given opportunities I could not have even imagined a year ago.
This year’s finalist day was similar, yet so different from the last. I found myself saying the same things that were said to me a year ago. “It’ll all work out for the best,” “go into it with an open mind,” “trust me, you’re going to love whichever company you end up with,” etc. All in all, I hope my advice was helpful. Who knows, maybe a year from now, a first year fellow will be giving a rising college senior the same advice I had given them. Maybe their advice will be better.
When the recruiting season began, our goal had been clear: Recruit a class that is better than the one to which you belong. After talking with as many of the candidates as possible Friday, I’m starting to think that we did just that. Each candidate that I spoke with seemed even more impressive than the last. There were candidates who had started their own non-profits, traveled the world, earned incredible academic honors, lead prominent campus organizations to new heights, and more. To the Orr Fellowship Class of 2016, I leave you with this: good luck recruiting a class better than yours.