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If I Could Do it Again: Melissa Adelman

When Melissa Adelman graduated from UNC last May, she faced a hard choice. One month earlier, she had entered a major business plan competition with her idea for Size Me Up, an online company that would provide a tool “that allows users to easily and instantly obtain size recommendations for new clothing purchases based on well-fitting items they already own.” It won the competition and earned Melissa $15,000. Around the same time, however, she also received a lucrative job offer from Deloitte Consulting. What to do? Risk and thrill or security and routine?

Melissa decided to take the plunge: turning down the job offer, she invested her winnings into making her business plan a reality (If you want to help, enter some sizing information at the Size Me Up web site, and potentially win an iPod).

Here are Melissa’s reflections on her college experience:

What did you get right during your time at college?

I got really involved in activities outside of my classes that enhanced my overall business education and college experience. For example, I participated in the Carolina Challenge [ed: business plan competition] during my junior and senior year, which taught me how to apply what I learned in my business classes to real-world situations. The reverse was true as well: the real-world experience I got from the Carolina Challenge helped me succeed in my classes. Although I ultimately won the prize money, I’d say that the experience and network I gained from the Carolina Challenge was even more valuable to me as a young entrepreneur.

What would you do differently if you could do it again?

I would have launched my business earlier so that I could have had even more of a head start before I entered the real world. However, I’m really happy with my college experience and I would have had to sacrifice other areas, such as my grades, to launch the business.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would give a current undergraduate?

Follow your passion! College is the time for you to explore your strengths and interests. While it is great to have direction, don’t come into college with a 100% preconceived notion of what career path you’ll take. Your parents and other advisers may put pressure on you to follow a certain career, but ultimately, you have to be happy. For example, I knew I wanted to do something in business and I am strong in math, so everyone’s advice to me was to become an accountant or investment banker. It’s easy to take the safer route and do what “makes sense,” but at the end of the day, you have to be passionate about what you do because it becomes a big part of your life when you graduate.

Describe one simple hack you found made your student life easier.

Surround yourself with positive, bright, and supportive people! They will support you as you follow your passion and encourage you to push yourself to a new level of greatness.

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