Start(up) your engines.

A few months ago, I had the wonderful chance to join Startup weekend Dunedin. I cannot encourage people enough to get on board this wonderful series of weekends.

I don’t have a background in business at all; last year Fox Consulting took the business case competitions by storm when we rocked in with our team of science students (and The Fox, mysterious investor extraordinaire) and did really rather well, but that is genuinely all I have ever done. I’m a scientist, not a business human. A love for business wasn’t why I went to the startup weekend, and that’s not really what I got out of it.

Startup weekends are important because they teach you how to work with people you have never met before, who aren’t “your peers” as you have thought of them before. Until you leave university your peers are your age with largely your political leanings, and you will probably have a lot in common with them.

But because startup weekends attract, for want of a better word, grown-ups, because you sort yourself into groups, and because you actually have to step up to the plate in group work, a Startup Weekend is an incredibly beneficial thing to do. You will meet amazing people, with skills and backgrounds diverse from yours, and you might meet less amazing people that you will learn to deal with in an adult and professional manner.

Oh also you might start a business and win prizes and discover a passion for entrepreneurship and network – less important. There are a lot of benefits, but doing things like this will set you up for going into the real world, looking for jobs, and dealing with people that you don’t agree with on every level.

Before you join the next Startup Weekend, though, think about what you have to offer. Personally, I am good at finding efficiency and also numbers, but cannot code very much. Know your strengths and weaknesses, because being cognizant of your own abilities helps you to form the most functional group that will then go and win everything. I don’t care what your major is, if you want to grow and stretch yourself in a fun way that gives you coffee and croissants, seriously consider joining a Startup weekend (or, as of 2015, a “hackathon”)

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