For Cal State Fullerton’s female juniors, seniors, graduate students and recent alumnae who aspire to start their own businesses, the Titan Women Collective, a mentoring and professional networking program founded by the Center for Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Charlesetta Medina ’10, is the pathway to preparing for the challenges of running your own business.
Following its founding, the collective has connected close to a dozen ambitious Titans with mentors from the Orange County community.
Among the recent graduates impacted by the program is Jilene Melendez ’19 (general management). She currently works as an accounting coordinator at the Hotel Irvine, an upscale Orange County icon that hosts numerous Cal State Fullerton events, including the annual economic forecast conference.
“I was taking an entrepreneurship class and my decision to join the Titan Women Collective was quite spontaneous,” Melendez recalls. “A criteria for one of our consulting projects was to meet with Charlesetta to figure out the best way to complete the project for our clients. She told us about the upcoming launch of the new Titan Women Collective and I was immediately intrigued.”
Melendez had a business idea in mind that the collective helped bring to the surface – making sustainable communities of tiny homes built on wheels, a future company she plans to call Mini Modern Living & Co. To help her incubate this concept, she was placed with her mentor, Orange County business strategist and consultant Shawn Marie Turi. This mentorship, facilitated through the Titan Women Collective, began on July 1, 2019.
“Shawn Marie is absolutely wonderful,” says Melendez. “We have been working on the foundations of my company, from the mindset I want to bring into the company to what my big vision and long term plans are. We meet consistently, by phone or in person, and our sessions rarely run less than two hours. It’s not uncommon for us to spend a half day together, working on my business ideation, plans and objectives.”
While not the case for all Titan Women Collective mentees, Melendez plans to work with her mentor for an entire year, well into 2020, with the final three-month round beginning on April 1.
“When we meet, we go over what’s going on in my life, where I’m at with my business progress, what’s working, what’s not, where I need help, support, perspective and what next steps I’m committed to taking,” she says. “Shawn Marie often says, ‘It’s not about perfection, it’s about preparedness,’ and I am preparing.”
With Turi’s support, Melendez will have her business plan completed by Jan. 1, 2020. With her business plan finished, she will begin to set up meetings with other industry professionals and potential partners, collaborators, and interested investors. Melendez is working on obtaining her real estate license, which she plans on having accomplished by April 2020. She sees this as a vital next step for turning her tiny-home development dream into a reality.
Melendez has found the Titan Women Collective to be an empowering and enlightening experience. “The program has inspired and reminded me that what I’m most passionate about is possible, even in a male-dominated industry and even with the challenges of entrepreneurship,” she says.
Melendez also said, “If I could talk to my freshman self, I would tell her this: Get started today! Don’t wait. It’s OK that you don’t have all the answers. They’ll come. Go talk with Charlesetta. Join the Titan Women Collective. You can be deeply uncertain or even scared and also be really ready. That is why I’m so thrilled to be part of the Titan Women Collective. Mentorship is key and the collective can open millions of opportunities for me and anyone else willing to do the hard work. You’ll make connections, gain resources, meet amazing people and if you stay with it, your dream just might be realized or something even bigger.”
About the Titan Women Collective
“The Titan Women Collective was created for the sole purpose of giving support to students and participants in the program – the mentees – and providing hands-on and one-on-one support that just cannot happen in the classroom,” founder and director Medina explains. “We’ve also learned that getting some ‘real life’ experiences and insights from the mentors and true-life stories from the trenches is proving to be invaluable for the participants.”
Medina says that Melendez and other mentees are ready to start with the fresh ideas, clarity of vision, enthusiasm and attitude that they bring to the program. However, the distance they need to travel to reach their goals is often a bigger gap than expected upon entry into the collective.
“What is so great about the design of the program is that the mentors can guide, give clarity, inspire, offer solid direction, required homework, some tough love and keep them motivated,” says Medina. “This work is not for the faint of heart, and I feel that without our program, many might just feel it’s too much work or takes too long. The mentors help keep them plugged in and motivated, on track and accountable. The bottom line is that the mentors meet the participants exactly where they’re at, while never losing sight of the prize.”
For More Information
Want to be a part of the resources and opportunities provided by the Titan Women Collective? Reach out to founder Charlesetta Medina at firstname.lastname@example.org or 657-278-8243.