Neerav Maniklal, a 2014 Terry graduate and recent Google hire, explains the secret to his success simply: networking and failure.
A finance major and president of the Society for Entrepreneurs at Terry, Maniklal's journey from Cordele to Silicon Valley didn't always run smoothly. In the beginning, he had his sights trained on the medical field.
"My story's a little different than most people's. I had no clue what I wanted to do. My neighbor was a pharmacist and had his own pharmacy, and I thought that looked like something I wanted to do, too," he said. "So I spent a year and a half going through the pharmaceutical program and realized it's not for me. I started getting more involved in entrepreneurship and realized that's what drove me."
Entrepreneurship was a natural fit for Maniklal. His roommates were all business majors, and lured him into the fold by taking him to Personal Finance Day with Terry lecturer Mark LaPlante. After one session, he says, he was hooked.
"Even before transferring to the business school, I had the entrepreneurship bug. I've been a part of multiple ventures, and I've failed a bunch of times," he said.
"One of the things we did was romantic date deliveries, where for Valentine's Day, we'd make sure the guy doesn't get in the doghouse, and we'd send him everything he needed for a special evening. We'd also handle larger-scale events for different organizations."
Although his own ventures didn't work out, Maniklal rose through the ranks of the Entrepreneurship Society, and found he had a knack for helping others with their startups.
"Last semester, in the Entrepreneurship Society, someone created an app, someone created a social enterprise, and we put eight people in internships," he said. "We push people in a way that's a little different than the rest of campus."
And that's just what he'll be doing when he starts at Google as an associate account strategist for small businesses. After he arrives in California, Maniklal will be helping entrepreneurs use tools like Google AdWords to get the most of their business.
"Chris Hanks (a senior lecturer in Terry's Entrepreneurship Program) goes to Silicon Valley every year, and he's got a lot of contacts out there, so he set me up with a University of Georgia graduate, and he was just the best guy there," he said.
As for his tips for other Terry students, Maniklal has this piece of advice: I would say don't make a backup plan. Whatever you enjoy the most is what you should do. If you really love hotels, that's what you should do. Whatever you're more interested to learn about is what you should do. I used to sit in Terry classes when I was a science major. That was a sign. That's when I realized I should be here."