One could say the creativity bug runs in Jenna’s family with her father being a joiner and other family members also being very creative. It came to no surprise then that Jenna herself would follow the creative calling and start making handmade jewellery as a pastime during her third year studying Medicine at Leeds. Little did she know that three years later she’d be completing her Year in Enterprise, having been an Enterprise scholar, with her business, Minimalist Me Designs, flourishing and her being the first student internationally to be graduating with the (Enterprise) variant next to her MBChB in a year’s time.
Jenna started studying Medicine six years ago because of her love for science and the prospects of a stable job and a great career development that the industry provides. "I absolutely love medicine; I find the human body fascinating."
After her fourth year, and having been making jewellery for almost twelve months, she decided to look for careers advice and explore her options. She came across the Careers Centre and went in for a meeting only to find out that she could apply for funding through the University of Leeds Business Plan Competition as well as for the Year in Enterprise, to spend a year developing her business with guidance provided by business experts through SPARK.
“SPARK have been absolutely amazing. I didn’t even know anything like that could exist and not only do you get financial support, you also get mentorship, advice when you need it, if things go wrong you have someone there that can guide you and has the experience to do so. It’s just been the best opportunity to give something a go; if you fail, it doesn’t necessarily matter because you have your degree to go back to, but if it works, that’s amazing.”
SPARK also provided opportunities for Jenna to network and meet other people, breaking out of the medic bubble; the social bubble of medical students because of the nature of the course. “The Year in Enterprise has given me the opportunity to spread my wings and become a part of a different social network.”
It’s just been the best opportunity to give something a go; if you fail, it doesn’t necessarily matter because you have your degree to go back to, but if it works, that’s amazing.
Jenna recognises the importance of entrepreneurial skills in any industry. “Even in Medicine, I would need enterprise skills. If I wanted to become a partner in a GP practice, I would need that knowledge of budgeting and running a business.”
Having spent this year working hard on her business, she reflects back to some of the highlights of her year, acknowledging that she has built something from nothing; a successful business in under two years.
“If you had said to me two years ago that I’d be taking a year out of Medical Degree to run a business that one could describe as successful, is pretty amazing to me; this feeling of achieving something which was unexpected.”
During the year, Jenna also had to face some challenges and one of them was adapting from a people-oriented degree to running a business from home and having very limited social interactions. The Incubator, office space provided by SPARK, provided opportunities for her to interact with other students taking the Year in Enterprise in a friendly environment whilst discussing each other’s businesses.
“The support has genuinely been second to none. SPARK have offered massive help in terms of funding, providing a mentor for monthly meetings and opportunities to learn constantly; be it retreats, boot camps or one-on-one meetings.”
Jenna has now returned to university for the final year of her Medicine degree. She is determined to focus on this final hurdle before the end of her studies. In the meantime, she is also looking at introducing a new line of jewellery into the business.
“I’m not a hundred percent sure where I’ll be in the next twelve months but wherever I end up, this year will have given me new skills and new contacts and a lot more confidence to enter a new workplace.”
If you had said to me two years ago that I’d be taking a year out of Medical Degree to run a business that one could describe as successful, is pretty amazing to me; this feeling of achieving something which was unexpected.