Washington: The City of Opportunities

Washington: The City of Opportunities

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Swarochish Goswami
September 09, 2016

May 26, 2016. The date I set out for a trip I had no idea would make a profound impact on what I aimed to do in life. I came into the city known as the political hub of the world as a person who is interested in politics and I left as a person who wanted to engage with the field in some capacity for the rest of my life. Being in Washington, D.C. was rewarding and being able to do it with The Washington Center enabled me to truly discover D.C. as a city of opportunities.

Upon getting into the city, I noticed how many young professionals were in the city. Inside and outside TWC, there was an influx of young people moving around in formal wear, with a dream and a goal on their mind. As an entrepreneur myself, I found this to be great because part of my reason for coming to the city was the ability to network and meet like minded individuals who were roughly my age.

Moreover, it is so easy to meet people in the city. The area itself is so interconnected but when it’s the weekend, you can literally find everyone out in the city doing something. I even met Elon Musk at a restaurant called Rose’s Luxury. I was able to have a personal conversation that culminated with him telling me to “work and party hard” when I asked him what advice he would give me in moving forward as a young professional. I found that in the city, many people were like Elon in that they were very receptive to questions and always generous with their time. In D.C., I made two mentors in the span of two months and I have remained in contact with them even though I am back in Canada.

If you think you are a future entrepreneur, there are not only many opportunities to meet people , but there are many opportunities to pitch your idea to investors and at pitch competitions. There are around eight pitch competitions that occur in the city in a single week! Furthermore, many of the pitch competitions there and the investors that flock to them recognize that D.C. is an area normally geared for young people to spend a few months and then go back home. This is different from most accredited investors in the Bay Area that normally require companies they invest in to stay within the area.

There is certainly a difference when it comes to supporting entrepreneurship between D.C. and Silicon Valley for example. There is a huge emphasis on supporting social enterprise in D.C. and this is partly due to the narrative that is constantly enforced in workplaces across the city that social change is the barometer over purely numbers to access success. D.C. is definitely a city bent on supporting those who are committed to social change at all costs. As a social entrepreneur myself, I value the social impact I make on communities over the monetary benefit I receive in return. I found that D.C. being a city that is home to political leaders and largely politically informed citizens, was brilliant in that I could scale my social impact higher by connecting with political influencers that had the ability mobilize citizens to act in a certain way. For example, I connected with Representative John Lewis after the Democrat’s sit-in regarding gun control. I did this because I was starting a social initiative called Millennial Council and wanted to know his thoughts on gun control for a podcast I was hoping to release.

This is all to say that if you are a person that is deeply interested in social enterprise or creating a program that could have a social impact, there is no better place of starting it than Washington D.C. The city is flooded with thought leaders, many of whom have started their own programs and/or contributed to policy which allows them to guide you in bringing your social enterprise to a negotiating table for funding or a public arena for exposure. D.C. is also home to Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, an organization started by Bill Drayton, a man widely regarded as the greatest social entrepreneur of all time. The organization among other things, supports social entrepreneurs in the city by providing them with mentorship, networking opportunities (incredible due to the people in the city), funding, and opportunities for founder development.

If you had asked me before I came to D.C., did you expect to meet Elon Musk, I would have said no. That is D.C. in a nutshell for you all though, a city where you don’t know who you might just meet or connect with if you tap into the myriad of opportunities that you are faced with. D.C. is truly a city of opportunities and a city that is for any dreamer, changemaker, and/or leader that wants to make a difference however small or big.

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