2016 Startup Internship Award Winner Supported by The Jeff Sutton (W’81) Entrepreneurship Internship Fund
As a Penn/Wharton student, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the numerous resources and opportunities available to us. With a strong alumni network, knowledgeable faculty/career staff, and a well-connected student body, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where to start when looking for an internship, especially as a freshman.
Personally, I had no idea what types of careers I would be interested in in the future but I knew that I wanted some form of exposure to the ‘real world’. I quickly learned that the things we focus most on, name and size of the company, are not what truly matters in a freshman internship. Instead, it’s most important to identify which soft and hard skills you want to develop throughout your summer. Rather than focusing on the name of the company you’re working for, focus on the experience you hope to gain.
For my freshman internship, I cared most about learning as much as possible at a startup to enhance my knowledge of building a company from the ground up. I started my internship search on PennLink where I applied to at least 10 jobs. After browsing through a myriad of internship choices, I learned that it’s important to focus on job title and imagine what your day-to-day functions would entail.
As I scrolled through the job listings, I realized that although I’ve always been interested in marketing, I’ve had few opportunities to explore this interest as a freshman. Not knowing anything about digital marketing, I came across the description for my internship: product and digital marketing intern at VeryApt. I looked up the company and saw that the founders were both Wharton MBA graduates. Little did I know that this would later make an immense difference in my experience at the company.
A month after submitting my resume, I got an email from the CEO of VeryApt offering me an interview. I showed up a little too overdressed for a startup interview in a rush from a BEPP 203 exam, however, I learned that my drive to learn overshadowed my nerves at the time. I emailed my interviewer, the CEO Ashrit Kamireddi, a few days after the interview thanking him for taking the time to talk to me specifically pointing to more personal thinks we discussed, and within 20 minutes he offered me the position. At this moment, I realized the importance of thank you emails.
After completing my internship, I can say with full confidence that working at a startup was the right decision for me. I got everything I wanted out of it- to foster meaningful connections with the people I worked for, and to learn more about marketing and the business industry as a whole in case I ever decide to start a company of my own. I had the chance to interact with the founders one-on-one everyday, to talk to the manager of adspend for hours at a time, and to work with the software engineers to improve various features on the site. I was genuinely surprised by the amount of attention and time I received from the management and realized that this is all connected to company culture. Finally, I was thankful to have been completing projects with a purpose rather than simply doing intern grunt work.