From Clubs to Communities
On a busy day, you should consider yourself lucky if you can catch Aneesh Ashutosh, a CAS sophomore, on a midday coffee break — you’re more likely to find him in the Leslie eLab working on a project for one of the six clubs he is a part of.
“I’d say that a big part of what motivated [my] work ethic is that I went to a pretty competitive boarding school before I came to NYU,” Ashutosh said. “Being involved is a way to increase my workload. I’m bad at keeping myself on track — but knowing I have something to do, I’ll be there.”
Ashutosh had an interest in computer science, coding and web development from a young age, but in college he fell in love with marketing and the communities it could build. In the second semester of his freshman year, Ashutosh became the Director of Marketing for TEDxNYU.
“A lot of my job is repetitive — emailing students, professors, posting in Facebook groups — and I automate a lot of that,” Ashutosh said.
Ashutosh used a Python script to build an email service that sheared hours off the time it takes to send out “personalized” mass emails, and created a Facebook bot that simplified posting event information to groups. Ashutosh also works on fundraising for [email protected], where he realized the utility of his scripts to various organizations.
As a member of [email protected], Cole Smith saw the effects of Ashutosh’s work firsthand.
“I admire his work ethic, as he not only puts his very best into [email protected], but into many other clubs as well,” Smith said. “He created a remarkable turnout for the Future Of AI event, and his genuine care for his clubs is rare to see these days.”
Ashutosh and his friends cross-promote different club events to reach a range of NYU communities and bring together dissimilar students. This community building stems from the challenges Ashutosh faced while trying to find a close-knit environment, especially after leaving his closed-campus boarding school for NYU’s sprawling Washington Square Park.
“I got here, and I would be in the park and ask [a stranger] ‘Hey do you know where the Waverly Building is?’ and the person was like ‘Sorry, I’m 27,’” Ashutosh said. “So it was hard to find community.”
Ashutosh fixed this by finding and joining various NYU communities. In addition to his involvement in TEDx and [email protected], he’s a member of the NYU Entrepreneurs Festival and an organizing member of InnoVention, NYU’s student-run prototyping competition.
He also works on marketing for Ascend, an all-university business development club whose membership has more than doubled in the past year thanks to both his technology and compassion. Ascend has freshman and sophomore representatives who talk with members after the meetings to help build that important sense of community.
Jacky Wong, president of the club, is thankful for Ashutosh’s help in its growth.
“As a leader, you often have to push members, but when you see one e-board member who is really willing to take the initiative, it means a lot,” Wong said. “I really appreciate how he goes above and beyond and how proactive he is in growing the club.”
And outside Ashutosh’s heaps of on-campus involvement, he has interned for Vine and Twitter — yes, he witnessed the demise of the much-loved video platform, but being the tech aficionado he is, Ashutosh saw it coming. More importantly, however, the internship opened doors for him in the tech world and connected him with many people in the industry who he fondly recalls.
“I just reached out to people I used to work with, and they’re willing to speak at events,” he said. “Tech feels like a really small world, so Twitter definitely gave me that connectivity.”
As his on-campus and off-campus extracurricular activities meshed, Ashutosh recognized the importance of learning by doing. When it comes to problem-solving and efficiency, his solution is to create.
“I believe in the truth that this is as young as we will ever be,” Ashutosh said. “It’s the best time to make mistakes.”
So he takes risks. Ashutosh worked on a startup project with friends at Columbia University. Laminar Dynamics wanted to bring medicine-carrying drones to sub-Saharan Africa, and the team’s solution would cost eight cents less per vaccine than if they were delivered traditionally, which would ultimately save thousands of dollars.
Last year, the project won the Columbia Venture Contest, which is akin to NYU’s 300K Entrepreneurs Challenge. Laminar Dynamics was Ashutosh’s first time starting a business of any kind, and it inspired him to join yet another club. This time around, it was one focused on startups: the NYU Entrepreneurship & Innovation Association.
“EIA was in the same situation as Ascend, where the power players graduate without passing on their job skills, so the club withers a bit,” he explained. “Now, Innovation Socials are our biggest events — our last one had about 250 people.”
Ashutosh recognized that the concept of community building would come easily with a little bit of commitment and code writing.
“What’s more effective than pushing ‘You care about this club’ is taking [members] out on a Friday, having a good time, making sure that they’re friends,” Ashutosh said. “Then they’re not doing it for the club, they’re doing it for each other. Which is a lot more of a motivator.”
Email Grace Halio at [email protected]
Grace Halio has spent the past three years working at WSN because her job has an actual title, unlike her concentration in Gallatin. She's studying how...
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