2016 Startup Internship Award Winner Supported by the Rosalind (WG’76) and Roy (WG’76) Neff Entrepreneurial Internship Fund
After working as a consultant for four years prior to Wharton, I was excited to take advantage of my summer internship to step out of an advisory role and gain firsthand experience working at the cutting edge of innovation in digital and mental healthcare. Quartet is a healthcare technology company that is improving the integration of physical and mental healthcare and helping people access the care they need. Working primarily in Operations and also with Marketing, I was able to transfer many of the skills I learned in consulting and at Wharton around analytics, market research, marketing strategy, and teamwork. However, I also had the opportunity to dive into areas where I had little prior experience, such as coming up with creative ways to use social media to reach out to patients, and helping design new incentive contracts for behavioral health providers. Being at a startup meant there wasn’t already an established “best” way to do these things, which was both challenging and liberating, giving me a chance to be thoughtful and creative.
Another difference I noticed about working in a startup, particularly a fast-paced and mission-driven one like Quartet, was a pervasive bias towards action. When I mentioned an idea to my manager about using Quartet posters in primary care offices to destigmatize mental health and encourage conversations between patients and providers, his first response was, “Why don’t you try it out?” I was able to work together with Marketing and Design to quickly develop posters and get them out into a few doctors’ offices for a pilot test. Reflecting on experiences like this helped me realize the value of learning by doing; in some cases, the time spent (over) analyzing decisions before making them could be better spent by trying something out, seeing how it works, then iterating.
Overall, I had a great learning experience this summer at Quartet. With the fast pace of the company, many employees joke that working at Quartet for 2-3 months is like spending a whole year anywhere else. In the 10 weeks I was there, I was able to observe several key strategic decisions undertaken by the leadership team. By being flexible with taking on tasks outside of my narrow job description, and even seeking them out, I gained insight into many different parts of the company and the mental health system. I was also fortunate to start with a great group of fellow summer interns working across different functions and cities. We organized weekly knowledge-sharing sessions to pool cross-functional knowledge and support each other in our projects. For other students interested in working at a startup next summer, I would definitely emphasize the importance of being self-motivated, flexible and collaborative to make the most of your experience.
How did you find the position? (i.e., cold calling, MBACM, PennLink, etc.)
Reached out to a former colleague who now works there.
What was your motivation for working at a startup this summer? (i.e., industry experience, experience to leverage for own start-up, career changer, etc.)
Having worked in consulting prior to Wharton, I wanted to step out of an advisory role and gain firsthand experience working at the cutting edge of innovation in digital and mental health care.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a startup this summer?
I would emphasize the importance of being self-motivated, flexible and collaborative to make the most of your experience at a startup.