by Parker Place, UNC 2018 | Business Administration & Chinese

After finishing Horizons, I felt rather glum about resuming progress on my business major. I’d grown too accustomed to this new feeling of having learning something everyday. Conversations with speakers from various successful startups and VC’s had become routine and the speakers were never hesitant to share exactly what they were thinking. In most talks, I’d learned of a new trajectory, a new story of persistence, a different world view, and yet they all undeniably shared certain similarities.

I can best characterize these traits in a phrase Edward Lando discussed in his closing remarks- “a childlike sense of wonder.” It was with a childlike sense of wonder that my classmates and I at Horizons approached each day. We took interests in new projects and learned the frameworks and packages we would need to make them happen. Our instructors did the same, showing us their projects in various states of completion- a task rabbit like mobile app, a blazingly fast convenience store app for necessities, and the Horizons website itself to name a few. It was with this frame of mind in which I approached moving to Copenhagen for a study abroad program.

Like most study abroad programs, mine was VERY undemanding. Class sizes were large and attendance wasn’t necessarily required to meet the passing requirement. That left partying, traveling, and a broad unfilled space of time. For a few weeks, I put my head down and played with code, and continued to work on old projects. Then I looked up. I found tech events on Twitter as one of our speakers had encourage us to do. I utilized my .edu address and invited founders of local Copenhagen startups to speak to my class at CBS. On one particularly ambitious day, I met the founders of SOUNDBOKS, a Danish startup making the loudest portable speakers on the market, at both an afternoon pitch event and an evening Copenhagen Entrepreneurship bar night. I ended up with a job there, doing marketing analytics and web development. By no means were they the first company I’d spoken with- I’d been glanced over by many others. Finding them however was incredibly serendipitous- I love music and deejay regularly at my university. Social and technological acumen that I’d picked up at Horizons led me to an opportunity and when it came to the interview, having a working knowledge of several programming languages is what ultimately landed me the job.

At SOUNDBOKS, I’m part of the learning process a startup undergoes in their first year. Everyone in the office is focused on one product, which results in a focused and unified community. I’m told to learn about something and make decisions on it. Website changes I make potentially save the company thousands in development costs, which in turn leads them to invest back in me. I couldn’t have imagined :

1. Finding this job without having received the advice and education I had at Horizons

2. Managing technical processes without a knowledge of programming.

Before I started Horizons, I had a good idea of the technical skills I would gain. What I didn’t anticipate was this wealth of opinions and advice I would receive from the speakers, my classmates (40+), the teachers (Moose, Josh, Ethan, Lane), and the founders (Abhi, Darwish, and Edward). We ate together almost every day. Edward and I played tennis weekly. We saw Philadelphia together and had several nights out as well. Towards the end, we crashed a Wharton MBA party on a downtown Philadelphia rooftop. In college, professors love speaking about having a personal relationship with there students. This went way beyond the cup of coffee you might enjoy with a professor. I’ve turned to these people several times now with job-seeking questions, troubles with my code, and with work-related questions. Horizons is new and naturally people tend to see new educational ventures, especially those targeting a demographic with a specific problem, as tainted with deception (online schools for veterans, Trump University for get-rich-quick types…). Horizons is run by good people who recognized how much the magic of programming had given to them and who wanted to give this back. They left great opportunities and jobs on the table, and for the sake of their own survival as well as their own compassions, they will not let you down.


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