By: Grace Zhang | May 9th, 2020

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hi everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, I am currently the digital marketing intern for the Diamond Challenge competition. I started this position at the end of May in 2019, so it’s been about a year since I’ve been able to work with the team. Throughout that time, I’ve been able to witness so many amazing accomplishments that the Diamond Challenge staff have achieved, write so many inspiring stories centered around Diamond Challenge alumni, and even weather a global pandemic that shifted the entire direction of our competition. It certainly has been one crazy journey, and I consider myself very lucky to have been along for the ride with such incredible mentors and individuals by my side. This piece serves as my perspective of this year’s unique situation, the interesting ways my job shifted in response to a virtual platform, and how we ultimately worked as a team to overcome various challenges to bring the Summit to life.

A big part of my job as the Digital Marketing Intern is to create and promote unique content over our social media channels to keep our followers engaged and up-to-date with the Diamond Challenge. Throughout the year, I posted many pictures and videos from last year’s pitch events and Summit to give our participants a good idea of the amazing experiences they would have. Luckily, we were able to carry out all of the individual pitch events and I had an amazing time sharing photos of all the participants competing in their respective countries. It really highlighted the diversity and international reach that this competition has inspired for young entrepreneurs all across the globe. However, in the midst of all the excitement gearing up for the annual Summit, we were suddenly hit with the devastating news of Covid-19. As someone who had never experienced first-hand the excitement and energy at our annual Summit, I was honestly super bummed that I wouldn’t get a chance to see this event happen in real time. I was really looking forward to meeting all the talented semifinalists and get a sneak peek of their innovative ventures. However, what I found out was that this experience would actually reveal the authentic entrepreneurial spirit within my own team here at the Diamond Challenge when we were forced to find solutions in these unprecedented times.

One of our biggest challenges moving to a virtual Summit was finding a way to build personal connections between semifinalists like the ones they would have experienced in person. As someone who uses social media quite frequently to keep in touch with fellow peers all over the world, I realized that we would have to utilize our digital platforms now more than ever to establish these relationships. This is how my team and I created the idea of the Scavenger Hunt Challenge and the Tik Tok Challenge: two virtual challenges aimed at bridging the distance between semifinalists no matter where they were located. We were also able to create many Instagram Story Templates that helped the semifinalists introduce themselves in their individually creative styles, incorporating a sneak peek of their personality into the competition.

It was a process, but slowly and surely, we saw friendships between semifinalists begin to form across the virtual platforms. I was so proud to see all these participants motivating one another despite the unusual circumstances and exchange advice to help mutually benefit their amazing ideas. While the situation was not ideal, I am very encouraged knowing that all these students and mentors are sharing in the entrepreneurial spirit to continuously improve our future. It is these bright individuals that inspire the values of determination and resilience in these times of hardship and help build the strong community of entrepreneurs that I am always proud to be apart of.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

About Horn Entrepreneurship

Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.

Follow Horn Entrepreneurship @udhorn and check out our entrepreneurship competition for high school students @diamondchalleng.