2015-2016 Ambassadors of Entrepreneurship
Sutton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
Intern Summer Reflection – by Julia Zhu W’17
Q: How did you find the position?
A: Referral from a professor
Q: What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
A: Gaining a wide variety of experience to discover my strengths and interests, and gaining general experience in an entrepreneurial environment in case I start my own venture one day
Q: What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
A: Dive in and get as involved as you can, and there is a lot to learn from the other employees at the company! An Internship That Hit The Spot This summer, I had the fortuitous opportunity of interning for Wedding Spot (now The Spot) – a VCfunded, high-tech platform that allows you to search, custom-price, and book a venue for any big event. It was an incredible experience, before which I would never have expected to do the interesting and satisfyingly challenging work that I ended up doing. On my first day, I walked into the spacious San Francisco office with the expectation that I’d be doing typical easy intern tasks, such as venue sourcing and data entry, as described in the online job description. Yet I walked out of the CEO’s office an hour later with an entirely new job description – spearheading the pre-launch phase of a new business within the company. I would wear quite a few hats in this role under limited supervision, which resulted in me considering myself as an almostproduct manager.
2 Evidently, my responsibilities spread all over. I first needed to fully understand the industry and the process, then find pieces to improve upon, so I spent the majority of my time testing in a pilot market, which largely comprised of communicating with partners and managing contracts. I made so many phone calls that talking on the phone now feels as natural to me as sleep. I also performed A/B testing on different emails I wrote and analyzed the results, a technique I find essential for any business. The company was extremely data-driven, so I learned to collect every number, metric, and statistic possible in order to strategically make decisions.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my internship was the UX design, as there is a special place in my heart for good visual aesthetics. Here’s the catch though – I had no previous experience, no Photoshop, and no Illustrator. So to say the least, I was quite surprised and a bit nervous when I was first told to make wireframes with little guidance or instruction. I tried my best, and by the end of the summer I had created wireframes for effective lead generation and wireframes for efficient lead management, which any real designer would laugh at, but I definitely had fun getting the experience.
At the end of my internship, I had to make a presentation of the work I did, my learnings from the project, and recommendations for the business, and present it to the CEO and management. Putting together the presentation itself was actually an extremely valuable experience; my supervisor, who had years of experience giving presentations to executives, gave me expert advice and taught me things that will stay with me through every future presentation.
For something that people often complain about at other companies, I was pleased and grateful for the management style of Wedding Spot – my supervisor trusted me to perform all my work independently, with regular updates to her and the CEO. I could tell that the CEO was engaged and tried to be actively involved in every part of the company, which is what I love about startups and I hope stays as the startup grows bigger.
The highlight of my internship was when the CEO took me and the other three interns out to lunch. We were able to ask her anything we wanted about her life and experiences as an entrepreneur, and she talked to us about the creation of Wedding Spot, obtaining funding, negotiating with investors, and both the positive and negative realities of being an entrepreneur. I, hopefully a future entrepreneur, took every word of wisdom to heart in eager waiting for the day that they would apply to me.
From the supportive company culture to the wide range of tasks I did, I came away from this internship with a new toolbox of professional skills that I know will open up bright opportunities and forever benefit my career path in the future. And for the day I get married, I know I’ll be in good hands.