Wild at Heart: How Sarah Bohn Found Her Calling at the National Geographic Society
Sarah Bohn graduated from Purdue in 2015 and is now a senior UX designer at the National Geographic Society. She considers curiosity to be her constant companion through life, and this in combination with a growth mindset, allows her to adapt to any circumstances. After starting in an architecture program at another institution that didn’t allow her the flexibility to pursue her interests, this curiosity led Sarah to major in English, Creative Writing, and Industrial Design at Purdue. While in the Industrial Design program, she began inventing things. Friends encouraged her to market her creations, but she didn’t know where to start. Her curiosity led her to the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Sarah says that the entrepreneurship program contributed greatly to her professional growth. The books assigned in her ENTR courses, including Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur and The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, were of particular interest and she recommends them to anyone interested in starting their own business. Sarah also enjoyed the brainstorming sessions and multidisciplinary group projects that were a part of her ENTR classes. She reflects fondly on her ENTR 20000 instructor, Beth Carroll, who encouraged students to approach the subject matter in their own unique way. Sarah was initially afraid of public speaking, but her class with Beth was so inspiring that she started to look forward to speaking in front of others.
Sarah’s involvement in entrepreneurship led her to exciting career opportunities. In 2014, she launched Aviator Owl Books, a venture based on children’s books that she created, illustrated, and sold through an online platform with her business partner. A unique feature of their business was that each book was associated with a specific charity and 50% of the profits went directly to these designated organizations. Sarah explains that starting a company can be an overwhelming experience, and ENTR classes offer valuable guidance to help navigate the associated challenges.
After graduation, Sarah made her way to UX design. After honing her skills at a couple of start-ups, she finally found her dream job at the National Geographic Society, where she currently works with “Explorers” and researchers to create customized websites and conduct user testing. Given her own exposure to studying wildlife, she is able to translate the experiences of researchers effectively. Although she had a fabulous time studying animals in the field, she enjoys design more than anything.
Sarah says networking is vital to her current position, and she credits the ENTR program for teaching her the value of this ability. She added that recruiters were always enthusiastic about how entrepreneurship skills lined up well with what could benefit companies in the long run.
Sarah advises students who have even the slightest interest in entrepreneurship to enroll in Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. She believes that it helps students develop critical professional skills, including networking, delivering elevator pitches, and communicating with stakeholders. Because students are likely to change what they do multiple times in their professional lives, the entrepreneurship program can help them adapt to these changes.