Miranda Beggin, CSSH/DMSB’17, is a fifth year dual major in political science and business with a concentration in finance and a minor in global social entrepreneurship. In addition to being an active student on campus, participating in Model Arab League and IDEA, Beggin has fully taken advantage of what co-op has to offer. She was a financial analyst at Amazon in her first co-op and an associate consultant at Endeavour Partners in her second. She also recently received a research grant that took her to Tunisia to better understand access to financing and the small business environment in the newly-democratic country under the faculty guidance of Professor William Crittenden.
Beggin spoke to us about building her ‘wasta’ (network in Arabic) and life in Jordan, where she is working in her third co-op as an investment analyst for Oasis500, a seed-stage investment company. Read more about Beggin below and be sure to follow @damoremckim Instagram beginning Monday, Oct. 10, for a close-up look at her life on co-op in Jordan.
Q:Tell us about your current co-op for Oasis500. What do you do and how have your past experiences influenced where you are today
I support the Investment & Acceleration team, which is responsible for scouting and vetting investment opportunities, helping entrepreneurs prepare pitch decks and working to help the entrepreneurs develop their businesses once we’ve decided to invest in them. We actually just welcomed the seventh batch of entrepreneurs to be accelerated, so I’ve been helping a few of the “idea-stage” ventures develop their products and figure out their market placement. The bulk of my work, though, is due diligence. That basically means that I read through pitch decks and build a market sizing and competitive analysis for the investment committee to use when they’re making the final investment decision.
I’ve been involved in the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Northeastern since my sophomore year, when I discovered the Social Enterprise Institute (SEI). From there, I soon became involved in IDEA as an Investment Analyst. For five consecutive semesters, I’ve seen the Investment Committee’s process for vetting startups continue to evolve, and I think that really shaped my understanding of the innovation process and the standard to which you should hold any new product or service you are evaluating. Between my experiences with IDEA, my co-op at Endeavour Partners, and my field work with SEI, I’ve really fallen in love with the process of innovation, or designing a solution to a problem a consumer, person, or society is facing. Participating in something like 12 IDEA investment committee meetings over the past few years allowed me to hone my analytical skills and understanding of the innovation process – skills I use every day at Oasis500.
Q:You’ve been active as a student leader on campus, and in your academic learning and global experiential learning opportunities. How has this impacted you personally and professionally?
The student-driven nature of the Northeastern experience is really unique in its ability to give endless opportunities for those who choose to take advantage of them. Through all my activities on campus, class, and abroad, I’ve really had to learn how to work and collaborate with every type of personality. These experiences, I think, have helped build the level of confidence that one would need to, say, move to a foreign country where they cannot speak the language. These experiences have also helped me develop a collaborative and inclusive perspective towards work situations (and daily life) and learn to appreciate the value of other people’s talents. Leadership shows you how important it is to surround yourself with people whom you can rely, but also how important it is to show how much you appreciate when they help you. In Amman, the importance of developing these mutually beneficial relationships cannot be understated, and it’s actually a very well-ingrained part of the culture. Although often equated with nepotism, relying on those you know to get things done is very much how things happen in Jordan. So now I find myself building my “wasta” in Arabic, or my network.
Q:What were some of your research findings in Tunisia?
I’ve been following the politics and situation in Tunisia since the Jasmine Revolution there in 2011, and my interest in Tunisia led to applying for a Provost Undergraduate Research Grant last year with a friend with similar interests. We spent about a year trying to get a better understanding of the economic system in Tunisia, specifically focusing on challenges to credit accessibility and small business development. Our initial research topic was evaluating whether or not it had become easier to develop a small business in the years post-revolution. However, when I arrived in Tunisia and began having conversations with stakeholders there, it became very clear that our premise was an oversimplification of the impact the revolution had on the economic environment there. After over 20 conversations with bankers, entrepreneurs, incubators, and other professionals in Tunisia, it became clear that not a lot had changed. If anything, bureaucracy had gotten worse for small businesses. Significant structural and cultural barriers existed that were preventing small businesses from acquiring financing, and from my conversations, it didn’t look like things were changing any time soon. I decided to focus on alternative financing mechanisms like marketplace lending, because I believe there is a strong opportunity and case for their implementation in Tunisia. The research paper, which will give an overview of the barriers to financing in Tunisia and make a case for introducing the alternative methods, is still being completed, but it will be submitted to a few journals for publication.
Q:What are you planning to share for the takeover?
I really look forward to showing what my daily life in Amman looks like, whether that’s sitting down with entrepreneurs at work, going to evening Arabic classes, or adventuring with the friends I’ve met here.
Q:Any advice for our younger Huskies?
Northeastern is an incredible place to learn by doing. If there’s a club you are interested in, a place you want to travel to, research you want to do, or a job you want to try out, don’t hesitate. Surround yourself with other passionate huskies and your opportunities to explore new things will only grow. I walked into Northeastern without a clear path, and I can’t be more thankful for that. I jumped, often impulsively, into jobs, clubs, and roles that I thought would interest and challenge me, and I left every one of them better for it. Lastly, I would advise younger huskies not to worry so much. Northeastern can be an overwhelming place because of all of these opportunities to be involved and make your mark. Don’t let yourself be defined by the opinions (real or perceived) of all of the incredible peers you interact with every day. Rather, build a Northeastern experience that is uniquely valuable to you.