Manuel Gauto, from Falls Church, Virginia, is an ordinary freshman who is doing extraordinary things. For the past seven years he has been gaining knowledge and experience in IT work and now he is running his own company.

Gauto chose Mason because of its esteemed engineering school, the reasonable price, and most importantly the close proximity it has to his home in order to continue running his business.

Gauto explains that his school priorities are what set him apart from his classmates. Though he knows school is important as a double major in Computer Engineering and Spanish, Gauto said, “Instead of focusing on school, like people tell me, I’m more focused on my business.”

Gauto says his family is what motivates him most and said, “They have always been there to support me.” Interestingly, however, the profit he makes from his company are what pays for his schooling.

Despite how well he is doing now, Gauto has encountered some obstacles along the way. He explained that there are always growing pains with a new company and that he has had to overcome some failures. Gauto reported, “It’s really hard to break a profit at first… [running a business] has a very steep learning curve…I’ve personally messed up [at times] and I’ve lost clients because of it.” Gauto has dealt with these problems and advises others that “Basically, you just have to keep at it. It will drain you at first, but once you get it set up, it’s still draining but not as bad.”

Gauto started his company, MG Enterprises, an IT service that does hosting and consulting, two years ago. Gauto, explaining what he does in his company, said, “I go to different businesses around the area, sometimes in other parts of the country and help them out with their IT infrastructure.” Most of his clients are from around the area, but he also has clients as far as Missouri.

Gauto revealed, “A typical day is pretty uneventful because of how the business is set up. The only times I really have to do something is when something breaks or when there’s a big storm and half the east coast loses power.” Once, he missed about two weeks of school in order to help clients in Chicago.

Gauto’s job is to manage the company, but depending on how much work he has, he will hire people on and off in order to keep up with client demand.

Throughout his work, Gauto has learned many important things about running a business. One of the most crucial things Gauto has learned is the importance of dressing for the job. Gauto said, “If you don’t look the part, they won’t pay attention to you.”

In addition to attire, Gauto added, “It’s really hard to earn the respect of people when you’re young so you have to really show that you know what you’re talking about.” He recounts, “If you start slipping up too much, they just won’t take you seriously and it’s impossible to get anywhere.”

Now that he has had time to figure things out, Gauto had time to reflect on the positive things that his company offered him. The most rewarding aspect of running the company for Gauto is “being able to help support the family…the confidence you gain and networking.”

Gauto says his company also bears a significant message for students by showing “You don’t have to be a 45 year old man or woman to be able to be successful…as long as you know what you’re talking about, there’s always a way to get what you want to get done.”

Gauto seems to have a very positive outlook and offers a lot of advice for freshman students who are trying to start up a project, like his, as well as freshman in general. Gauto suggested, “Don’t take life too seriously…school is important, but always look in the long run as well.”

He explained his reasoning behind this by mentioning “I have a teacher this semester who’s actually in the IT field, and we’re looking at partnering up, so always be networking with people.”

Gauto also added, “Learn to prioritize and time manage.” He also joked saying “The earlier you start something in the day, the more sleep you get.”

Gauto also provided words of encouragement for freshman who might not feel like they can achieve what they want to do. He urged for students to “Just go for it…the worst that could happen is that it doesn’t work out, or it could be something great and you end up making lots of money and friends.”

Gauto is hoping his next main project is going to be something great as well. He revealed, “I just set up another subsidiary… [which is] a smaller company that’s owned by my company… and I’m hoping that will take off too.”