Learn from those who have done it before

Discovering Future Worlds – Aaron’s story

Isn’t the momentum of life interesting.

What I have learned is to tighten your grip on any opportunity, and to not let go until an opportunity becomes your success. This is where my Future Worlds story starts.

Future Worlds, like much of the University of Southampton, is a bastion of hope, achievement and possibility. I have entered the platform at its most interesting point yet with the recent formation of Future Worlds Medicine and the ongoing expansion of its team – including myself. What appears to be most metaphorical about the rise of Future Worlds that I am speaking of, however, is the impending opening of its new incubator; a symbol of excitement and progress.

My entrance into Future Worlds was an opportunity that I would not let pass me by. Future Worlds, for me, represents the same kind of pathway to success that it provides to its entrepreneurs – although perhaps through a different route. In my relatively brief time here, it has taught me lessons about opportunity and how to seize it in immediate ways which I could not have conceived.

This is because at Future Worlds the primary ethos is to recognise the potential of ideas and the possibilities for growth. These possibilities are not confined into a certain group, or subsection, of individuals; not just for the super-intelligent; not just for the super wealthy. Possibilities are endless and they belong to the pragmatic, the daring, and the brave; those willing to extend past their mere requirements and strive to push themselves. This is something we can all achieve.

During my first year at Southampton as a student, I was enrolled on a Social Enterprise module, which was my first harbouring of any kind of entrepreneurial or business-minded spirit. Once I reached the climactic point of the module, my professor – like many do – released a range of first-class exemplar assessments. One exemplar was a model business canvas outlining the various aspects of a successfully pitched social enterprise named Utensale. Utensale was a business idea that would allow students at Southampton an inter-connected platform to both buy and sell their unwanted household items at the end, or start, of a year; primarily motivated by the large number of international students at Southampton and the benefit this company would have to them. As good as an idea I thought Utensale was, it unfortunately never came to complete fruition.

Fast forward to my first week at Future Worlds and the newly featured Discover article was a company named Stradents. Stradents is an online marketplace that lets users buy and sell used items securely over a local messenger service; primarily motivated by the large number of international students both joining and leaving Southampton every year. Sound familiar?

I worked on the Stradents’ Discover video with Alex and had an instant flashback to Utensale. Stradents is a polished product with its platform’s interface bilingual and website custom made, but the vision for the idea was the same. In my first week with Future Worlds I gained the insight to push an opportunity to its full potential, because who knows what its potential could be.

Even on my first day I was given a sense of this attitude. Meeting the Director at any new job is stressful, but Reuben was different. In my first meeting I could witness his incisive critical thinking and problem solving, and Reuben is the person I would attest to most wholly impress the ideology of pragmatism that I have been speaking about – perhaps in a rambling, nostalgic way – throughout this blog. One of the first questions he asked me was, “so, what do you want to do when you’re older?” I knew that Reuben was a person I could not fluff an overly-ambitious – yet exciting – answer to, so I was honest and explained that my goal is to enter cyber security and learn the necessary computer science in a newly available Masters course. Reuben’s reply astounded me, “don’t wait for a Masters course – go and learn how to code. Do it in a weekend.”

A weekend? While many have already achieved this skill, it remains an effervescent and particularly daunting goal of mine to achieve. But if a weekend is what Reuben argues, then a weekend it shall be.

It is this very sense of ‘don’t let anything hold you back, just go and do it’ that remains most influential to me in my short time at Future Worlds. Whether it is the student entrepreneurs, the series of mentors, or the very staff, Future Worlds is a network that demands more in the idea that to capitalise on whatever it may be the first and last step is your willingness.

Future Worlds is a system of progress and I, myself, am another manifestation of that. Personally, I did not think I would have achieved all that was ahead of me – but I saw my opportunity, so I leaped for it.  And here I am – so don’t lose sight of your ambition, or your opportunity.

Get in touch with Aaron Wheeldon

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Aaron Wheeldon

Student Ambassador and
Society Partner Coordinator

Aaron is currently studying at the University of Southampton for a BSc in International Relations. He is working as a part of the Future Worlds team as the Student Ambassador and Society Partner Coordinator, building on an Excel Southampton internship that planned marketing and events aimed at new starters in the University.

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