Rou Tzamaras and Andrew Jones (Q26) attend Forbes Under 30 Summit

Rou Tzamaras (senior, mechanical engineering major, international engineering minor, Q26) and Andrew Jones (senior, aerospace engineering major, Q26) both had the recent pleasure of being invited to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit as U30 Scholars. This was a 4-day event held in the heart of Boston, MA, and it brought together students, young entrepreneurs, innovators, corporate sponsors, and celebrities such as Kendrick Lamar and former Apple CEO John Sculley. Recently, I had the chance to catch up with both of them to ask them to reflect on their experiences and insights from the event.

I know you were recently at the Forbes Under 30 Conference so what was your favorite part of the whole event?

Rou: My favorite part was the area called the under 30 village where everyone could go and hangout. They had multiple tracks, but if there were no events going on during your track session, you could just go and hangout there. That’s where they had speakers and different networking opportunities.

Andrew: I think the event was interesting because it was spread throughout Boston and over the course of 4 days, so there was a lot of freedom to choose where you wanted to go.

There was a hub called the “village” which had a mainstage set up for companies such as Fidelity, Microsoft, and Samsung to host booths where you could visit, learn more about the companies, and network. There was also another tent with different types of startups in multiple fields such as medicine, technology, and others. There was even a stage for entrepreneurs to talk and host roundtables too.

I was on the tech track with two sessions and different speakers ranging from CEOs of companies like One Plus to actors like T.J. Miller and engineers from Reddit and Bumble. I loved that there was so much for you to pick and choose from.

Which speaker was your favorite and why?

Rou: I was on the create track which was all about branding yourself, making your image, and creating cool things with an impact on society. During this time, TJ Miller from Silicon Valley came to talk to us and he was not only hilarious, but also very candid. He spoke about what you need to do to follow what you want and the advice that he left us with was, “Make your own meaning, work for a reason, and work harder than anybody else.”

Andrew: I listened to Saket Modi, an ethical hacker and CEO of Lucideus Tech, talk about the recent wave of data hacks. He discussed how easy it was to get access to people’s information and even hacked into a person’s phone in the audience after they handed it to him for about 10 seconds. He pulled out his laptop and projected all their contact information, texting history, audio, and location information as well.

This was so eye opening to me because I had no idea how easy it was to do something like that. It became especially interesting once I realized how many people use their phone numbers as a secondary authentication service for Facebook, Gmail, and other social networks. I’m studying aerospace engineering, and I don’t do too much coding, but it was cool to see how much you can infiltrate a person’s life despite all the measures of security we have in place.

From your perspective, why do you think an event like Forbes Under 30 is so significant when it comes to bridging the gaps between young people and older people who are more established in the industry?

Rou: I met a lot of people in a lot of different startups, and I think it’s important for people who have been in the industry for a long time to see the types of things that younger people can come up with. I also think it’s important for younger people to talk to the people who have been in industry to see how they got to where they are and what kind of path they should follow.

What if anything would you say you learned after being at the conference?

Andrew: I would say I learned how to feel more confident in my progress and comfortable with my pace. I felt reinvigorated after seeing everybody doing their own thing. I concluded that if you keep pushing forward, doing your own thing, and staying humble then you’ll eventually see the returns from those efforts. We had big CEOs and then people from obscure startups talking about their success and failures and it was all incredibly inspirational.

After being at the event and learning what you learned, how do you feel the conference impacted your thoughts about what you want to do with your career and your life moving forward?

Rou: I went to the create stage because it was something different from engineering. I have always been interested in media and content creation, but the biggest thing for me is having a platform that I can use to speak on things that matter to me.

Looking for a job has been stressful, and I feel like I’ve been thinking too much about what location is the best, what’s going to pay the most, and what’s going to look the best, but not what’s going to help me make the greatest impact possible. I want to do something where I feel like my work is helping people. I want to make a personal impact, and this conference drove home how important that is for me.

Do you still think you want to focus on the engineering side of things, or do you want to make an impact in another field of study?

Rou: That’s TBD, but I’m applying to a lot of engineering and non-technical roles so we’ll see how things turn out. When it comes down to it, if I take an engineering role, I hope to supplement that time with meaningful activities on the side by volunteering and doing pro bono work. If I take a nontechnical role such as consulting, those tend to have these opportunities built in so I hope to utilize those opportunities and make an impact there. Regardless of where I go, this conference showed me that I want to be a change maker. Whether it’s in a technical or non-technical role, I want to be a mover and a shaker than can make a lasting impact.

Andrew: During the past few months, I’ve been going back and forth between consulting and engineering, but I’ve always wanted to do something service related like AmeriCorps or Princeton in Asia. I’ve been talking to my parents and various other people, but being at the event made me even more confident about pursuing what I want to pursue and doing what I want to do. For some people, there’s a rush to go corporate and climb up the ladder, but for me, I’ve realized that I want to do something more service-oriented before going into corporate. After attending the Under 30 conference, I feel even more energized to move towards that.

 

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