What everyone ought to know about Jaclyn Konzelmann

Jaclyn KonzelmannJaclyn Konzellman’s been hard at work. Most people would consider fourth-year Mechanical Engineering hard enough, especially if it was under the auspices of as competitive an institution as the University of Waterloo, but in-between work and university life she’s managed to squeeze in a little bit of time for a few remarkable achievements.

She recently planned and organized the TEDxWaterloo conference, for which she headed a team of nine socialpreneurs, and she also found some time to slip into the recent Ignite Waterloo conference held last week in Waterloo and deliver one of the event’s notorious 5-minute presentations.

And just before she could slip away again, I managed to fire some questions at her. Here’s what she had to say.

You were a members of the TEDxWaterloo organizing committee, and were recently featured as speaker/presenter at the Ignite Waterloo conference that took place last Wednesday. How did you make the wide transition from Waterloo student to “socialpreneur” in such a short amount of time?

Throughout my years as a UW student I have always tried to get involved in different activities outside of the classroom.  From organizing faculty events to being a Campus Rec instructor, these outside interests have helped make the student experience even better.  Eventually I got involved in a student run conference and this past summer I co-founded a student organization called EPIC.  These outside interests led me to meeting some of the amazing people who are also involved in TEDxWaterloo, Ignite and a variety of other initiatives.  As I got more and more involved I realized how much I loved it and how fun it was.

Could you name perhaps one or two key events in your life so far that have led you to where you are now?

One of the biggest events for me happened during my first co-op work term in which I worked in a factory in a small town.  At the time it was a very difficult situation for me as I was entirely out of my element both in terms of the small community as well as the workplace.  Looking back, however this experience made me realize how badly I wanted to get involved in things and meet new people.  Since then, I have always tried to make the most of situations and have fun with things.  It is the reason I have taken on the things that I have and I couldn’t be happier about it!

As a Waterloo student, where do you see the University of Waterloo going in the next few years in terms of social change and social leadership? Where do you see the Kitchener-Waterloo region going in the next few years? Do you have any advice to share with current university students who harbour ambitions of being the social leaders of tomorrow?

I think that the University has some great things going for it and I am excited to see it grow.  There are a lot of really cool things going on such as the start-up incubator Velocity and I even have a course on Technical Entrepreneurship this year.  It is awesome to see the University expanding into offering things such as this.  At the same time, I still think that the University has a long way to go.  I know plenty of students who have never heard of the Accelerator Centre and don’t know that as a UW student you can get free admission into many events run by Communitech.  These are awesome resources in the Waterloo region but I don’t think enough students know about them right now.

I think that the region in general is only going to get better and better.  From the continuous innovation coming out of the Universities and the Accelerator Centre to the research being done at PI and the recent announcement that UW is going to be the hub for diabetes research, these are all clear indications of the amazing things that we can expect in the near future.

What do you plan to conquer next on your horizon? Are there any particular events that you would like to see come to the Kitchener-Waterloo area? Perhaps some that are long overdue?

Next on the horizon for me is graduating from Mechatronics Engineering at UW (fingers crossed).  In the meantime I will also continue to do work with the non-profit I co-founded this summer EPIC and work away on planning TEDxWaterloo 2011 which I recently received the license to once again co-host (and am super excited about).  I have also accepted a PM job at Microsoft so I will be moving to Seattle later this year, but plan on still staying actively involved in the Waterloo region! 

In terms of coming events, I was really excited to be able to introduce TEDx to this region and can’t wait for next year’s event.  I think that Waterloo is fairly up to date on the hot events right now, from Startup Drinks to Demo Camp and, well, all the other Camps, to Ignite and even some of our own “local” ones such as Canada 3.0 – I personally love the scene here. 

I can’t help but throw in a classic interview question, but where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years? 10 years might I ask? 

As I mentioned, I will be moving to Seattle later this year to start work at Microsoft full-time.  Having said this, I am still not sure where I see myself in 3-5 years.  If I love it at Microsoft I could see myself staying there for a couple years.  Then again, I may decide to venture off from the corporate world and try something on my own.  As long as I can look back in 3, 5 or 10 years from now and not have any regrets I will be happy.  What I do know is that I plan on making the most of every opportunity and can’t wait to continue to get involved in exciting things!

If you could name one thing that coaxes you to wake up on a daily basis, gives you your drive throughout the day and makes you passionate enough to view sleep as an unwelcome interruption, what would it be?

The people I meet.  Hands down, everything comes down to the amazing people and fun times that I have had and continue to have.  I absolutely love everyone on all of the teams I am a part of and they make things so much more fun and exciting.  I look forward to meetings and group work sessions because it is not only a way of being productive but also a reason to hand out with people I enjoy working with.