A Conversation with Minerva Incoming Graduate Student Jannik Schilling

May 15, 2023

​​This is part of a series of profiles introducing students from Minerva’s incoming Fall 2023 graduate class. If you would like to learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

At the age of 13, Jannik Schilling, originally from Germany, began his studies in Physics at the University of Hamburg alongside his regular schoolwork. With a naturally curious mind, the program allowed him to develop his understanding of the world and drive him to learn about the fundamental laws governing the world. Upon further reflection, Jannik decided that a career in astrophysics research was no longer suitable for his long-term goals and aspirations, so he decided to shift his professional path to management consulting.

At the time, Jannik was engaged in a variety of projects, including one addressing sustainable investing, which sparked his interest in the non-profit sector. Upon leaving the project, he partnered with a senior executive of an NGO in the establishment of a non-profit focused on evidence-based sustainability ratings. Leveraging the co-founder's expertise in one of the biggest NGOs in the healthcare industry, Jannik gained invaluable knowledge and became more invested in the start-up sector.

Following this path, Jannik enrolled in the London cohort of Entrepreneur First (EF), a Talent Investor headquartered in London, which eventually led him to join EF as a talent investor after completion of the program.

“We are working with some of the most talented individuals and helping them achieve amazing outcomes, striving to become the natural home for the best.”

His role involves identifying and connecting talented professionals from around the world, developing theses around talent, deciding between various strategies, and doing everything that is necessary to ensure they can become the most ambitious version of themselves.

“My job is to identify the most talented individuals across the globe. While data-driven approaches are essential to making informed decisions, relying solely on pattern matching may lead to overlooking the most talented individuals. Therefore, it is important to use data to build tacit knowledge and improve intuition in order to identify those edge cases that may not be captured in a traditional assessment.”

Jannik aspires to eventually either found a start-up of his own or continue working in the venture capital industry, to help in the creation of decade-defining start-ups that may otherwise not exist or look very different. Both career paths require a lot of decision making and constant search for new ways to make better choices.

“A few hundred years ago, information was a scarce resource. Now, it is the opposite, though we are not able to gather and understand most of the data around us. With the sheer amount of data available, the challenge lies in filtering, prioritizing and making sense of it all.”

This aspiration to be able to make evidence-informed decisions and understand the human decision-making process better is what led Jannik to enroll in Minerva’s Certificate in Decision Analysis (CDA) program as a member of the incoming Fall 2023 class.

“Someone told me a story about Minerva and I immediately signed up for a newsletter. Since then, I was gradually learning more and more about their educational model. At some point, I realized that Minerva does exactly what should be done in the academia space, and I decided to apply.”

Jannik appreciates Minerva’s focus on the science of learning and bringing education, technological advances, and scientific progress together. Moreover, Jannik is excited to be surrounded by a diverse cohort of professionals from all around the globe, and looking forward to gaining a better cultural understanding, necessary to work in an international environment.

“At a recent Effective Altruism conference I attended in India, I had the privilege of being exposed to a highly diverse international community. The differing perspectives, ideas, and life experiences of those attending provided me with an incredibly enriching experience, considering ideas and approaches I might have missed otherwise.”

Jannik believes that being surrounded by equally driven, ambitious, and thoughtful peers helps individuals to thrive, whether it is a global student body at Minerva or a driven community of start-up founders at EF.

“Many young people find themselves following a traditional career path even though they may have had aspirations for something more non-traditional. Having someone around who believes in you, raises your aspirations and helps you live up to your potential is incredibly important, no matter what career path you are pursuing.”

Jannik is determined to leverage the skills he will learn at Minerva, together with his expertise in the start-up sector, to ensure that the most talented individuals pursue very ambitious careers and are working on some of the world's most pressing problems.