Each day the program began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 7:30 p.m. with very few breaks in-between. I was one of only three freshmen out of the 30 people who participated in the summit. The main focus of the week was to prepare a business pitch with a team of two other students to share at the end of the program. Each team was assigned a mentor to help them develop the pitch and we were lucky to have Paul Vogel, founder and CEO of Vogel Communications in Oregon, as our mentor. It was an amazing experience working with him and learning from him. Paul emphasized the value of teamwork, and it had a deep impact on our final product.
My group and I decided to pitch the idea of forming a travel company in Rwanda whose main aim would be to tap into the domestic market that is still largely unexploited. My role was to conduct research and to connect with various people I knew in the Rwanda tourism business in order to understand the risks that would be involved if we decided to carry out our business ideas. Working on this project was challenging because we had a short period of time to narrow down a lot of ideas from mentors in order to find what would work with our specific business model.
While my group didn’t win the pitch competition, I had an amazing time working with my teammates and we even won “TheOnionChallenge.” The Onion challenge was about coming up with a funny satirical caption describing Lewis and Clark students. Our caption talked about our student body's obsession with astrological signs. We won campus swag as prizes.
I learned a lot of valuable skills through this experience. One that stood out the most was learning more about conditions under which businesses should expand. This was very special to me because I’ve been thinking of ways on how to expand my mom’s business to bring in more women and create employment opportunities. I can't wait to take these lessons and apply them at home in Rwanda. Winterim was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I wouldn’t miss a chance at participating in again.
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