Wilson College of Textiles senior Gurjot Baweja just returned from Boston, where he spent a week rubbing elbows with other young innovators at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in early October. The summit hosted 200 speakers including world-renowned chefs, political and business leaders, celebrities and more, and ranged all over Boston, with venues at Faneuil Hall, MIT Media Lab and the University of Massachusetts Club.
“The event was wonderful and very well organized,” said Baweja. “(It) was a get-together of young professionals who have done exceptionally well in their career, either by starting their own company or earning high rankings in the top companies.”
He was one of 1,000 college students from diverse backgrounds chosen to attend the conference at no cost as part of the Forbes Under 30 Scholars Program, sponsored by global banking and financial services firm JPMorgan Chase. The program is open to high-achieving juniors, seniors and graduate students in the business and technology sectors. He discovered the event through ePACK, then answered application questions asking why he wanted to attend, how he thought the event could aid his professional and personal development, and what contributions he could make by attending. He received his acceptance just days later.
Baweja is pursuing his bachelor’s degree at NC State in Textile Engineering with a concentration in Information Systems. He interned with American Pillow, LLC, during which he helped the startup set up their website, packaging and machinery, and designed weaves for new covers. He later worked as an industrial engineering intern with PeeGee Fabrics in Ahmedabad, India, in their dyeing and finishing plant, and as a research and development and technical service intern with DyStar in Charlotte, N.C., helping to develop hydrophobic treatments for fabrics.
What knowledge or inspiration are you taking away from the summit?
The most basic thing I learned from the event was that it’s okay to fail and most of the people there have failed and have gotten back up stronger. Like everyone, I was afraid to fail as well — but most of the list makers I met had a couple of startups fail or they were fired from jobs that they really liked. They all said the same things — that it always works out, so just do what you like… which is truly inspirational to know, since I have been looking for jobs!
Once I told people about my major (Textile Engineering), most of them had the same reaction — they were intrigued and they realized that textiles is such a big market.
Can you describe the atmosphere at the summit?
The atmosphere there was very laid back yet professional and you could literally approach anyone and start talking about ideas and what they are doing, and you could go meet the list makers (awardees) and ask how they got there. All in all, it was a very positive environment where so many young professionals and brilliant minds came together.
It looks like there was a ton to see and do there. How did you decide what to do and where to go?
Boston is a beautiful city but I didn’t get to see too much of it, as the events took up much of the time. I would leave at 9 a.m. and come back around midnight or 1 a.m. The events were until 6 p.m., but they would organize more informal events; for example, on Sunday they had a music festival where artists like Zedd, Playboi Carti and Skyler Gray performed for us. And then on Monday, Oct. 2, they opened Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox stadium) for our bar crawl.
What speakers did you see there and who did you get to meet?
I got to meet actor and investor Ashton Kutcher, “Silicon Valley” actor T.J. Miller, Ray Dalio (founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund) and Kendrick Lamar (one of the world’s highest-paid hip-hop artists).
What are you hoping to do with your degree after graduation?
For now, I’m hoping to find a job for couple of years and get some experience, then go to graduate school and open up my own company in textiles or a textile-related field.