Forbes Under 30 Summit ‘memorable,’ ‘extraordinary’ experience

Sean Yoder
December 10, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At least six Penn State students were able to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit this past October in Detroit, an annual event stacked with activities and high-profile speakers, all in the entrepreneurial spirit.

Attending from Penn State were Mackenzie Anderson, Foxborough, Massachusetts, corporate innovation and entrepreneurship major; Joyce Lin, Long Island, New York, advertising major and entrepreneurship and innovation minor (ENTI); Nathan Woodman, State College, Pennsylvania, energy business and finance major and ENTI minor; Jacob Makarsky, IST Design and Development major, Manor, Pennsylvania; Shamar Stokes, Philadelphia, labor and employment relations major; and Jasmine Yedra, Philadelphia, information sciences and technology major.

Forbes reported it was the largest summit yet with 9,272 attendees from nearly 60 countries. This year’s 220-speaker lineup continued the powerful casts usually fielded for the Under 30 Summits, featuring athletes such as Serena Williams and Kevin Durant, entertainers like Sophia Bush and Olivia Munn, and executives such as Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner and founder and CEO of Shutterstock John Oringer, among many others.

All six Penn State attendees received Forbes Under 30 Scholarships to cover their cost of attendance. The Forbes Under 30 Scholars Program was created in 2016 by Forbes’ corporate partners to provide high-achieving students a free pass to the summit. Additionally, Anderson, Makarsky and Woodman received scholarships from the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation.

Jamey Darnell, interim director of the ENTI minor and assistant clinical professor of entrepreneurship in the Smeal College of Business, has had Anderson, Lin and Woodman in the course MGMT 425 (ENGR 425/IST 425) New Venture Creation.

“Entrepreneurship at its core is recognizing opportunities and then taking advantage of them,” Darnell said. “I think the entrepreneurial mindset can apply to all aspects of one’s life, not just creating new ventures, and I think these students showed that here by pursuing the scholarship and attending the summit.”

Students studying entrepreneurship at Penn State said the summit experience paired well with what they have been learning in the classroom and through clubs and projects.

Anderson first heard about the summit and scholarship while attending Harvard Business School’s pre-MBA program.

“It was definitely a perfect complement, going to the conference and learning from my major,” Anderson said. “Learning entrepreneurship through the classroom and through the ENTI minor and CIENT major classes is more project-based and hands-on than I think other majors are in general. Going to a conference and seeing companies that people have built and talking to people that are influential in their fields, such as retail or healthcare, it was really cool, I think, to hear people that have had successful startups speak from that perspective and to kind of envision myself in their shoes eventually.”

Lin was motivated to apply for an Under 30 Scholarship after attending Next Gen Summit 2019, another event geared toward young aspiring and working entrepreneurs.

She described the summit as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” that emphasized much of what she’s learned in her entrepreneurship classes at Penn State. One of the most memorable aspects for Lin was the advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs.

“One of the themes that resonated with me was the emphasis on women and wellness in entrepreneurship,” she said. “There was a whole day dedicated to creating a dialogue about female founders — their journey, advice, and how they overcame adversity. In a male-dominated industry, it was inspiring and empowering to hear these women share their success stories.”

Woodman said the summit was “an extraordinary experience.”

“Meeting individuals and teams who have the long-term vision but also the dedication and commitment to do the small things right, was purely energizing,” he said. “The whole experience related to what I have learned and practiced in my entrepreneurship classes because it was an opportunity to see what taking action can do.”

Though Makarsky hasn’t taken any entrepreneurship classes at Penn State, he is the current vice president of Innoblue, and said he saw the summit as an opportunity to learn from people who already run successful businesses.

Makarsky said an accident sent him to the hospital during the first night of the summit, but Forbes provided him and a friend with VIP passes, giving them direct access to musicians, politicians and business people.

“I learned so much about what it really takes to be successful and not just chase success itself,” he said. “I would have to say I probably gained the most in my networking skills, having to keep a good conversation and stay interesting while talking to people with massively successful companies.”

Next year’s summit is slated for Oct. 25-28 and will remain in Detroit. Preregistration is already available.

The Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is part of the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated December 11, 2019