Michael Ruan W’18 interned at Wellsheet in New York City, NY

2016 Startup Internship Award Winner Supported by The Jeff Sutton (W’81) Entrepreneurship Internship Fund

I am part of a student organization called the Wharton Undergraduate Consulting Club, which provides pro bono advisory services to a range of businesses. Last year, as a leader within WUCC, I found a client through the Wharton MBA Health Care Management program that was pioneering technology in the electronic medical records space. Since health care is a personal passion of mine, I decided to join the consulting team for this client. The experience was extremely exciting – our client constantly engaged us with responsibilities in research, product development, and more. I learned from this engagement that I wanted to enter the health care industry long-term.

Simultaneously, I was seeking an internship for the upcoming summer. I discovered after copious amounts of research and applying that finding a position in an official internship program was difficult because available spots were reserved for rising seniors. Fortunately, my WUCC client was willing to hire me as an intern, so I gladly accepted a position as a project management intern.

Part of the reason I chose to work for a startup was that many other doors were closed to me at the time. However, working for this startup named WellSheet also appealed to me for three more important reasons: I could experience what working at a startup was like, create a large impact on the company, and develop entrepreneurial skills of my own that would be useful in any occupational capacity.

First, many friends of mine had recommended that I experience startup culture (even though different startups do have unique cultures, most have similar prevailing characteristics). Indeed, throughout this summer, I loved the flexibility of the hours, not having to wear a suit to work in 90-degree weather, and making decisions without needing to seek management’s approval. Second, I believed that working at a startup would allow me an opportunity to drastically improve the company’s ability to reach its goals. WellSheet was a startup with a small team of employees, and since the company had extraordinary amounts of room for growth, I knew that I would never be sitting on the sidelines completing petty tasks. My manager this summer ensured that I was directly involved in almost every project and contributing to the company’s foremost objectives. Lastly, I wanted to work at a startup to develop entrepreneurial skills such as perseverance, flexibility, and initiative. WellSheet was the ideal environment in which I could learn these traits.

To students interested in working at a startup this summer, I would offer a few points of encouragement. First, select a company whose mission you believe in; nothing will burn you out faster than working without a meaningful purpose. Second, embrace the startup culture as well as lifestyle. You will need to be flexible and creative because your company will likely have limited resources. Lastly, learn about strategy and vision as much as your position allows. Leaders at startups are constantly mindful about their company’s direction because their ventures cannot succeed whilst in cruise control. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn!