Arjun Shankar ENG’17/GEN’18 interned at GTRACK Technologies in Palo Alto, CA

2016 Startup Internship Award Winner Supported by the Rosalind (WG’76) and Roy (WG’76) Neff Entrepreneurial Internship Fund

“Teddy, what do I do now? The company in London said no.”

I paced back and forth in my friend’s room and made a mental list of all of the companies that had denied me internships so far. As a junior bioengineering student at UPenn, I had one summer left of my college career, and I wanted to make the most of it. I had spent all of my previous college summers at Penn doing engineering research in various labs. This time, I wanted something different.

My first college business course, Engineering Entrepreneurship I with Dr. Cassel, had ignited a passion in me for small high tech ventures. I dreamed of starting a business of my own someday, and I wanted to get some experience in the business world in the upcoming summer. During OCR season that semester, I had applied to several healthcare and management consulting companies, but I had received no offers. I eventually started reaching out to healthcare and bioengineering companies and finally found a small bioengineering startup in London that was interested in me. I exchanged several emails with them and even Skyped with them three times. I was all set on going to London, when suddenly, towards the end of the school year, they told me they could not hire me as an intern any more. Devastated, I went to my friend for advice.

Teddy had graduated from Penn the previous year, but he still stayed in our Penn Glee Club house as he was working on his startup company, GTRACK Technologies. I had always looked up to him like an older brother, and he had been advising me on the internship search throughout the process. He assured me that there was still time to find something, and so I resumed the search with a new intensity.

I soon found myself in talks with three bioengineering companies, but one surprise offer from a small firm would convince me to reject all of them.

“How’d you like to work with me in Palo Alto this summer?”

Teddy’s company had just won a spot in the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator in Palo Alto. He needed an intern and knew that I was looking for an internship. As GTRACK consisted only of its two founders Teddy and Ashwin, this would be an unparalleled opportunity for me to learn how small business works.

No large company could have provided me with the variety of experience that GTRACK provided me this past summer. As it was just me, Teddy, Ashwin, and a computer science intern named Akhil, I was able to work on all facets of the business from day one. I analyzed the market, figured out logistics of the product deployment, talked to customers, studied the competition, and absorbed every single detail about the industry. I was even able to attend some Y Combinator events and learn about all the other startups. With four people working towards one goal, we also developed an incredible bond. In addition to working, we spent our summers mountain biking, surfing, playing soccer, tennis, cooking, and watching television together. My summer working at a startup was one of the best summers of my life, and I returned to Penn with a new outlook.

I have several recommendations to any student interested in working in a startup this summer.

  1. Do it! Working at a startup will allow you to work in all facets of a company. I promise you it will be a great summer!
  2. Reach out to as many people as you can! Don’t be afraid to call and email people at the companies you are interested in.
  3. Always seek the advice of your friends and professors. Connections and internship offers can come from the most surprising places.