Why I Chose The Unconventional Route After College

“You have to be a little crazy. If you think like everyone else, you’re going to be like everyone else.” – Tim Grover

It’s been nearly four months since I’ve graduated from Chapman University and many of my younger peers are back in the full swing of things for the Fall semester. I’ve been asked countless times since then what I’ve been doing with my life or what I am doing for work. And the truth is,  I knew what I was going to be doing before I graduated. But…it’s not the conventional “socially acceptable” route that everyone is prepared to hear and understand.

When I started my business around the age of 16, I definitely did not think that I would end up pursuing it full-time after college. Heck, I didn’t even really know the potential of IMG_3744turning it full-time until right about Senior year. But, one thing I did know for certain is that I’ve always had a very entrepreneurial “do it myself” personality. When I was in fifth grade, I bought colorful cap erasers from Walmart and drew hearts and smiley faces on them and sold them for 25 cents each to my classmates (or $1 for five lol). In high school, I made study guides for my own AP classes to prepare for exams and eventually made copies to sell the study guide to my peers. Essentially, I always had this knack for just capitalizing on anything I did on my own. And well, I guess I kept that trait going because here I am, four months out of college, and seriously…”doing my own thing” for a living. Whoops.

It hasn’t been easy though. In fact, I thought long and hard during my “last summer of freedom” on simply going the conventional route to make everyone else proud (and maybe myself a little too). It’s tough, doing this entrepreneurship shit when you know you have family and friends expecting to hear you snagged a killer job at some corporate company like Deloitte or Microsoft. That shit makes everyone prouddddd and want to brag about you. But, it’s always a trade off. And I traded that “beautiful on paper” job to build a life and career on my own terms.

So what am I doing now? Now that the college phase is fully done. Well, let me just break down what I typically do on a weekly basis since on a daily basis that kinda varies. In building my business Elite Skate Wear, I am working on several new designs to add to the final 2019 collection and also partnering with various shops throughout the U.S. for wholesale opportunities (my goal is to be in a total of ten stores by the end of the year). I am also expanding on types of products offered aside from custom dresses, such as competition gloves and other accessories that will be able to build and expand the brand. IMG_3747 Fortunately, I have an intern to assist with various work and what she’s interested in, such as media advertising, content creation, copy writing, and so much more. This has enabled me to focus on the bigger tasks of my business and have a team member for support!

My other part-time gigs include my podcast Young & Ambitious, which my co-host Siena Mirabella and I recently hired on an intern (shoutout to my Chapman gal Rachel) as well to help with content and social media management. With this, I am usually recording 1-3 podcast episodes per week (we always aim to keep it consistent on Tuesdays) and currently working on a few projects to expand on within the podcast, which is great for our growth as we continue to expand.

On top of that, I continue to coach figure skating a few hours a week, typically on Wednesday and Friday (sometimes Sunday as well), which is great because it allows me to continue to stay involved in the sport as a coach and a skater, also helping me keep up with the trends and news to help my business evolve with the sport.

I guess you could say I’m kinda freelancing and doing “my own thing” with my passions, but strongly focused on growing my business. One thing I will always keep in mind is that if it doesn’t work out…well, I’ll always have my degree. And three, four, ten years from now, I can do the conventional route if I want to. But, I wouldn’t want to look back when I am 30 and wish I tried harder at my dream–and you shouldn’t either.

Whether you’re in college right now or you recently graduated, my best advice is to simply start. Start as early as you can and take advantage of the “free time” you have before the trade-off becomes too big. Chase your dream, create deadlines, and make a plan and execute it.


Emily Duong

Born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, but currently residing in Orange County, California. Emily Elizabeth is an entrepreneur, athlete, and lifestyle blogger sharing her everyday lifestyle and healthy mindset.



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