Ayako Ishikawa WG’14 interned at MyCityWay in New York, NY

2013-2014 Startup Internship Award winner, supported by the Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board

Why startup?

Fighting against the peer pressure to do consulting or banking, I decided to dedicate my summer for MyCityWay, a first-growing mobile analytics company. Why? Because I wanted to witness the technology disruption, the moment that current analytics is substituted by new ones. As a consultant, I understand the process of improvement. However, the process of innovation was completely new and exciting to me.

Work hard

Flexibility to learn and execute new things is essential in start-ups. As a strategy intern, I wore multiple hats every day. The work ranged from market sizing, business plan development, customer database development, to website building. As you can see, some are close from what I originally did in consulting, but others are far away from my expertise. I needed to think and adapt to new things every day. Working with team members to develop the messaging for the website was particularly challenging but rewarding. We all know how great our products are, so we firstly focused on the product features and competitive advantages. However, the CEO told us that our website will not make anyone interested in us. He told us to tell the story, tell the pain points of customers, and how we can address them. The process to sharpen messaging was such an exciting experience. I am sure that this experience improved one of my weaknesses – leadership communication skills.

Play hard

Culture matters a lot in start-ups, as it is one of the main factors to attract and motivate people. Becoming a fun team player is essential. MyCityWay was participating in Wall Street Journal’s Start-up competition, and in the process we needed to do shooting almost every week. When ‘fun’ was the theme of the shooting, we played ping pong intensely. When ‘diversity’ was the theme, I danced, and another person sang. It was such a happy experience for me to be a part of vibrant start-up company.

At the end of the internship, I noticed that I got more than I expected. I got challenging spirit, flexibility to do anything, and the skill to tell the story. Working in a start-up won’t give you super specific skills (unless it is engineering type of internship), but will give you the chance to be well-rounded leader. I will keep on involving myself in this vibrant community, and I am looking forward to seeing the excitement of technology disruption in near future.