Aradhana Bali WG’10 interned at Outright.com in Campbell, CA

2009-2010 Startup Internship Award winner, supported by the Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board

How did you find the position?
I found my position through the WEP auction.

What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
I love working in environments where you can wear multiple hats and although you may have a functional title, you do just as much outside of that, if not more. Start-ups really allow you to touch on all aspects of an organization and that to me is exciting.

What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
My advice is that you have to be comfortable in environment where you carve your own path. These environments then to be for those of you who are self-motivated, need little direction, and can get their hands dirty so-to-speak. You need to be flexible, juggle several things at once, and curious to learn.

About the Summer Experience
Shortly after I arrived at Wharton, I attended a session hosted by WEP. It was AND1’s co-founder, Seth Berger, speaking about Entrepreneurship. This was one of my defining moments at Wharton. While it’s hard to express the inspiration I got from listening to Seth speak about his path to entrepreneurship, it struck a chord with me. Listening to the other speakers at this session who had taken the leap of faith to start a business made me realize that it’s not an impossible feat. They can do it, perhaps I can too.

During my first few quarters at Wharton, I thought long and hard about what I’d like to do for the summer. I wanted to do something I will enjoy – a job where I can have an impact and help shape the company. It was after much soul searching that I realized that I want to spend the summer working for a start-up. I may not start a company, but I can still be excited about a start-up – a place where I can have an impact but also learn, grow, and develop.

When recruiting time came, it was a little nerve-wracking watching my classmates interview, get offers, and have their summers figured out. Start-ups don’t know what their next month looks like so you won’t see these companies “recruit” well in advance. They don’t necessarily look for interns so you have to approach them more often than not. Although I wasn’t dropping my resume for companies, I did network. I was introduced, via friends, to start-ups. I also met many founders of start-up companies during the Entrepreneurship Conference and I found it very valuable. It was interesting to hear their stories. I did finally find my internship through WEP – another incredibly useful resource.

I worked at Outright, a company targeted to the self-employed, which allows users to track their income and expenses easily in order to estimate their quarterly taxes. It’s simple bookkeeping online. I was drawn to this company for a few reasons: 1) the founders had previously worked at Intuit and knew the bookkeeping space well 2) the start-up stemmed from a problem they experienced that needed addressing 3) it was a small company – which meant that I could have impact 4) they had received funding just 4 months prior so they were just getting started in one sense.

My experience there was phenomenal. While I was there for a Marketing and Business Development internship, I was able to work on things outside of this. As I saw other areas to address or look into for the company, I was given the authority to work on it. Everyone there was supportive in my development as well. I articulated what I wanted to work on and the folks at the company were very kind to help me in those areas. For example, I didn’t have a strong background in business development so the founder proactively gave me leads to follow-up on. I was able to learn first-hand the opportunity and challenges the company faced as they grow. The passion and enthusiasm as they approached their business and their customers always a priority, this was exactly the experience I was looking for.