My university story by Rajeeb Dey
- Rajeeb Dey
I threw myself into Oxford Entrepreneurs from my first year at Oxford. I saw that they had an open position on the Committee for the role of “External Relations Officer” and thought that was the perfect chance to put myself forward.
I think I was at an advantage as by the time I was at Oxford I was already working on establishing my first Social Enterprise (Student Voice) so had entrepreneurial experience I could draw upon during my interviews for the role however even without that it is ultimately about showing your passion and how you can add the most value to the society. In the role of External Relations Officer I had to invite high profile entrepreneurs to come and speak at the Society so had the chance to meet and network with the likes of the Dragons from Dragons Den; the Chancellor at the time Gordon Brown; Alan Sugar and many others. It was up to me to have the courage to speak to them when I saw them at events, give them my Oxford Entrepreneurs business card and ask for their details in order to send them an invite. I was fortunate that practically everyone I approach to speak accepted the invitation which in turn gave me a great list of personal contacts in the entrepreneurship field (many of which are now clients of my existing company Enternships.)
My role was also to generate interest amongst sponsors for the society which developed my skills around ‘pitching’ and presenting to corporations. During my time at Oxford Entrepreneurs I was successful in securing over £80,000 of sponsorship which was a great achievement to subsequently reference in CVs, Cover Letters or my LinkedIn profile. With my experience in these areas I was appointed President of the society in my Second Year and subsequently approached by the University to take a ‘sabbatical’ (a year off my academic studies) to run the society full-time which I did between my second and third year. It was a tough decision as it meant I would be leaving my year group behind however the opportunity to spend a year in Oxford, without the academic pressure and do something I enjoyed was too good to refuse. I am really glad I did as I managed to grow the society and manage a Committee of approximately 18 committee members which was akin to running my own business. It gave me the experience, skills and confidence I needed as well as the inspiration to launch Enternships. So my other bit of advice would be to be open to opportunities and possibilities. You too may be given the chance to do something you had not initially envisaged, rather than shut it off think carefully about the pros and cons and be open to embracing new things if they come your way.
Given my success at running Oxford Entrepreneurs I was brought in to become the President of the Oxford Majlis Society. In a way you could see this experience very much as the ‘turnaround’ of a failing business. The society had no money, had no sense of leadership or proper management yet had an incredibly rich history –founded in 1896 it was in fact the second oldest student society at the University and counted previous numerous former Indian politicians and Prime Ministers as members and society Presidents such as Indira Gandhi , Benazhir Bhutto, Manmohan Singh and K.P.S Menon. My challenge was to get the society back to where it had been and organise its flagship annual ball. I managed to leverage some of the links I had made during Oxford Entrepreneurs to approach sponsors and did indeed manage to arrange one of the society’s most successful balls called “Mumbai Nights” attended by over 400 people which was sold-out and managed to bring the societies finances back to good health. The experience really tested my perseverance and creativity as we had to be resourceful in getting things done with next to no budget but it is all experience which has helped develop me as a person.
Rajeeb Dey, Entrepreneur
Follow Rajeeb on Twitter @rajdey