3 Reflections for a (very belated) 3rd Birthday Celebration!

by Elizabeth Engele

MakerGirl’s 3rd birthday was celebrated in November of 2014, and it has been one of the
greatest joys to see the organization take on a mind of its own without mine and my co-founder
Julia Haried’s day-to- day, on-campus involvement. I firmly believe that the most significant college and life-learning experiences can happen outside of the “classroom” or “office,” and I wanted to share a few ways MG has helped me since graduating so that more students will consider entrepreneurial ventures in college:

  • Mentoring – One of my greatest joys has been watching team members go from learning a role to fully taking ownership of not only their role, but taking responsibility for the entire organization’s output. I have fortunately been able to witness this on multiple levels. For example, @Lauren Wenig was our first hire to the MG team, and she went from not having experience with crafting a marketing plan to incorporating a full re-brand thanks to the help of @Arnold Worldwide. As well, I’ve seen @Nishi Gupta transform throughout the year she has been involved with MG. She came to UIUC as a reserved MBA student from India. Through team bonding and contributing as CMO of MG, she now feels she can call the UIUC campus “home,” and MG team members have told me that she has “stepped up her game” and helped lead the team to feeling more like a family.


  • Giving back and staying updated on my alma mater – Whenever I am connected with current UIUC students, it’s exciting to hear them say, “Oh you’re that girl that helped start MakerGirl?!,” but it’s just as fun and humbling to discuss all of the significant goals my team has accomplished since I left UIUC (including driving a #MakerGirlGoesMobile truck across the country to inspire thousands of girls and expanding to Chicago). Working on MG since graduating has enabled me to continue to give back to a place that inspired me so much while celebrate “small wins” and reflect on what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed since my university days. (Not to mention, it’s a good excuse to travel back to campus and have a cup of @Espresso Royale and a burrito from @Cracked!)


  • Understanding how to take a step back – One of the biggest challenges for my involvement with MG has been figuring out where I can best assist the team and use my time wisely while balancing a full-time work load and being physically away from the team. Admittedly, it was difficult in the beginning to muster up the energy to work on MG outside of work because it just felt like another time-consuming project, but I’ve learned that I’m motivated by the energy from my team, and I’ve tried to find ways to get this energy while being physically away. A few of these ways include planning a Chicago bonding trip every Fall where they visit my workplace and planning weekly chats with a new member of the team to learn how MG has helped them and what they’ve learned. Moreover, I am confident that this knowledge of understanding where I can most effectively and efficiently help “move the needle” will be helpful in the future when I have even more responsibilities to balance. As well, the detail-oriented side of me has learned so much about the value of being able to look at work from a high level and be humble enough to admit to areas where I can’t contribute.

I’m understanding more and more the value of seeing myself as “always in beta;” therefore, I welcome and am thankful for all perspectives and feedback on these topics from people who are there and who have been there. Thank you to all of those that have helped this blog post come to life, including @Ross Gordon and @Nishi Gupta. I am most grateful to my team for all that you’ve taught me about working with passion, resilience, and execution! I can’t wait to witness and play a part in what the next three years have in store for MakerGirl—including academies all over the mid-west! Let’s drive change!