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Craig Brainard ’16 Life enFocus

enFocus-1020Last summer, I chose not to do an internship. I didn’t even look for one, and frankly I didn’t care to. I was set on taking it easy, and using my free time to relax. I took a lot for granted by not getting back on my horse after sophomore year, but I was simply worn out from having two intensive internships right after my freshman year. There are a couple of things I can look back on now, though, and say I have learned since the beginning of last summer that have helped put internships into focus for me. Hopefully, I can help provide some insights to people who are wary of putting themselves out there, or are hesitant to take on an internship.
Let me start with this summer. I had a great time in South Bend working at enFocus. The company name stands for “entrepreneurial focus”, but I love the play on words, and that in some sense my experience provided me with my clarity and focus going into my senior year at Wabash, especially surrounding my desire to become an entrepreneur after graduation.
EnFocus is a nonprofit consulting company that was founded, in part, to help reverse “Brain Drain” in Indiana. If you have never heard of this, you have now, and it is a serious problem for Indiana, long-term. Brain Drain is used to describe the alarming statistic that Indiana is 14th in producing talented individuals out of college programs, but we are 48th in the nation in retaining that talent after graduation. The foremost reason for this trend is that most people who have lived in Indiana their whole life, or those who may just be here for school, see far more benefit in getting out than staying in. Coming from someone who has lived in Indiana his whole life, I can confirm that there has always appeared to be more opportunity beyond the Indiana border than inside of it, but the passion and excitement I saw in South Bend is just one example of how this summer has provided me clarity.
EnFocus is doing a great deal to provide meaningful opportunities to talented students, to show the potential of South Bend, and Indiana, for the future. One thing they did for their interns, not just those working directly at enFocus, but also those that they helped align with internships for the summer, is provide a professional development series. The series consisted of one-hour talks every Wednesday afternoon on subjects spanning from project management to social entrepreneurship, and we even had a chance the last week to hear from Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend and have a discussion with him. One of the things he highlighted about South Bend is its connectivity compared to the cost of living. For an aspiring entrepreneur, the realization of being so close to Chicago and being a central hub for connectivity through fiber lines, all with the ability to stretch start up dollars four times as far due to the lower cost of living, makes South Bend ideal for a budding tech company. Indiana, in general, is becoming known as a place where innovative people are creating opportunities through connectivity, and I was thankful to be a part of that is happening surrounding enFocus, thanks to Wabash College and Eli Lilly for making the opportunity available to me. One of the most rewarding parts of my experience was working on a project that will provide even more meaningful internship opportunities to Indiana students in the future, as a service.
In closing, I am not sure where I will be after graduation, but Indiana is looking more enticing after this summer. To anyone who is looking for an internship next year, take a look at enFocus if you are interested in entrepreneurship or consulting with a focus on social change. EnFocus is unique in that it offers employees 30% of their time to work on their entrepreneurial ideas. This goes for interns as well. And anyone who is not sure about internships or putting themselves out there, you won’t know until you try. Internships are one of the best ways to learn about yourself and what you might be interested in doing after school. That value should never be taken for granted, especially when companies and organizations like Eli Lilly, Wabash College, and enFocus are doing so much to provide that value to you. When it comes down to it, internships are sometimes rewarding just to put life that much more in focus. Thank you to everyone who made this summer possible and such a rewarding experience, once again, Eli Lilly and Wabash College, but also all of the great people at enFocus and in South Bend.