Working at a start-up isn’t working at all; it’s living and breathing the universal belief of all start-ups: We will succeed. Success is measured incrementally in units sold, LinkedIn endorsements received, and business cards acquired. Every rejection, every negative review, and every sleepless night is fuel for the fire. If you believe in anything other than the inevitability of success, go home.
I’m two weeks into my grand experiment for the summer: an internship at Zaption, a seed-funded education technology (edtech) startup that’s making video learning interactive. The goal of this experiment, like that of most internships, is to learn about a new type of work and figure out how I like it. The experiment isn’t particularly well-designed, in that so many variables have changed relative to my previous job—but so far it’s been illuminating and fun in a variety of ways.
By Linda Huang WG’15, Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellow
How did you find the position?
I first learned about RocksBox while setting up company visits for the Wharton Tech Startup Trek (Fall 2014). I met the founder of RocksBox (Meaghan Rose, also a Wharton MBA alum) and reached out when I was searching for a startup internship.
By Makena Finger W’17, Sutton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
How did you find the position?
I sent an email to the contact email address listed on Dagne Dover’s website, expressing how much I related to the company and what I thought I could bring as an intern. I interviewed with Melissa Mash (WG’12), the CEO, and then Deepa Gandhi (WG’13), the COO, who ended up being my boss, and that was that!
By Cory Oringer W’16, 2014 Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow at Estimize
Interested in doing an internship at a startup this summer? Come to our WE Wednesday session: Is a Startup Internship Right For Me? on October 29, 4:30-5:30pom Jon M. Huntsmann Hall room 365.
This summer I worked at Estimize, a venture capital backed, financial technology (FinTech) start-up. Estimize operates an open platform for crowdsourcing structured financial data such as earnings estimates of publicly-traded US companies, as well as macroeconomic indicator forecasts.
By Nadine Kavanaugh, Associate Director, Wharton Entrepreneurship
Working at a startup isn’t like working at an established company. At Wharton Entrepreneurship, we know that one path into entrepreneurship is through spending time at a startup, and seeing what it’s really like at a new and growing company—from the inside. Interns at startups often have opportunities that they couldn’t dream of at an established company: there’s so much happening that a motivated intern can own a project and build it from scratch, all in a summer.
Entrepreneurial Intern Fellowships are available to Penn/Wharton Undergraduates and First Year MBAs. They are awarded to students who plan to spend the summer in an entrepreneurial setting and who demonstrate both a commitment to entrepreneurship at Penn and to pursuing an entrepreneurial career. To apply, click here.
By Jasmine Kriston W’15, 2013-14 Dr. William Zucker Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow at Curalate
Last fall I set the goal of finding a start-up to work for Summer 2013. During the summer prior I had experienced working for a large company, AT&T. I ended sophomore year wanting to get a taste of what working in a company of less than 20 people would feel like.
I began my start-up search by making a list of some of the companies and industries I was most interested in. I was particularly fascinated by Pinterest’s success. Pinterest, the third leading social network, recently changed the experience of social networking from primarily text to images. Following Pinterest’s lead, several retail brands have adopted similar visual and interactive user experiences for their websites.
Before reaching out to any of the companies on my list, I created a video using Pinterest as a platform to tell my story:
I finished my video before I attended the Penn career services’ start-up fair. At the fair I spoke with several start-ups. I also met Curalate’s co-founder and CTO, Nick Shiftan. Curalate, a First Round backed company, does analytics for the visual web: platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. At the fair, Nick was wearing a shirt, which said, “I’m huge on Pinterest-with Curalate.” We immediately started talking about our similar interest in Pinterest and other visual social media platforms.
A few weeks later my video was in the hands of Curalate’s marketing team. I received an email from Curalate’s CEO and founder, Apu Gupta WG’05, inviting me to their office.
Before we met, I spent hours researching Curalate and talking with several people in the start-up field who knew members of the Curalate team. I found that Curalate was well known for using their own analytics to create infographics, which displayed tons of interesting data in a fun, visual, and creative way.
I spent the night before my meeting with Curalate’s CEO making an inforgraphic titled “Curalate & Me” which outlined what I wanted to do for the company as a summer intern:
During my interview, Apu said it was refreshing that I had taken the time to outline what I wanted to do at Curalate: Rather than burdening the start-up with having to find a role for me. My interview lasted for hours; I spoke with more three team members to see how I was cultural fit.
I remember leaving the office and feeling really excited to have found a team of nerds who were just as interested in images and Pinterest as I was. A week later I received an offer to be a summer intern for the company and accepted.
I spent the summer working with Curalate as a sales and marketing intern. I watched the company grow from 13 employees to 25. I was also part of their big move from working in First Round Capital’s Philadelphia office to leasing their own space in center city. The Curalate team is one of the most fun and smart groups of people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. They’ve made it easy for me to decide that I will definitely want to pursue a start-up again this summer and after graduation. I feel privileged to be able to say I was part of the Curalate team for a summer.
Bio: Jasmine is a junior at Wharton studying Finance and Management with two minors in Computer Science and Engineering Entrepreneurship. At Penn she sits on the Executive Board for the Wharton Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Club. Jasmine is also a founding member of the Dorm Room Fund (DRF), backed by First Round Capital. Jasmine oversees post-funding business development resources for DRF’s portfolio companies. She sources and cultivates one-on-one relationships with companies, which partner with Dorm Room Fund to offer resources to their portfolio companies. Jasmine has experience in development from interning as an Applications Developer for AT&T. She also recently interned for Curalate, a Philadelphia data and analytics start-up, as a Sales and Marketing Intern. This summer Jasmine will be joining Andreessen Horowitz, a $2.65 billion venture capital firm in Menlo Park, as an investment team intern.
The 2014 Career Services Startup Fair will be held on Thursday, February 20, 11:00 am-3:00 pm in Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
By Chenyang (Ray) Lei ENG’16
Last year, I went to the Career Services Startup Fair. I was only a freshman, but I knew that I wanted an internship at a startup that summer. And I got one.
It wasn’t an easy process. As a freshman without any working experience, I received countless rejections. I suspect that many companies didn’t even bother to read my resume. I almost booked flight tickets back home to China (Thanks StudentUniverse.com! It was too expensive.) Heavily disappointed, I decided to take another approach.
From the Career Fair, I was familiar with SaleMove, and I was excited about the work they did, replicating an offline personalized sales experience in an online environment using cutting edge technologies. I called up Daniel Michaeli, the CEO of SaleMove, and I told him about myself: what I was studying and what I was looking for. I did everything I could to show him my passion for entrepreneurship.
Daniel told me later that he was surprised by the amount of confidence shown by a freshman—and he decided to give me a chance. I was assigned a coding project. The only problem? It was due during midterm week. I pulled a couple of all-nighters and finished the project with the help of some friends. After that, I went to New York for an onsite interview. And as you already know, I got the internship.
I was successful in negotiating a stipend for the summer from SaleMove. The problem was the high cost of living in NYC, so I applied for a Wharton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellowship and was award a Cai Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow (Read my Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow report here!). I highly recommend that people apply for these fellowships.
My path to getting an internship at a startup wasn’t a straight line. It was hard, and I had to do more than just send out resumes and wait for the phone to ring. But it was worth it. I want to start my own tech venture in the future, and a real startup environment pushed me towards being a better technician and a potential entrepreneur. My experience at the startup did change me a lot. I had an awesome time in New York City, with all the great experiences offered by the Big Apple. I built up my career connections, technical skills, and self-confidence.
I’m going to the Startup Fair again this year, and I encourage you to do the same. You’ll meet people, talk to them, learn about opportunities—and you never know when those connections may come in handy. I’m already interviewing for some engineering summer intern positions on the West Coast, but last year’s experience taught me that the process of getting an internship can be complicated, and I want to see who else is hiring. I may need to cold call one of them.
Bio: Ray Lei is a sophomore in the Engineering School. He studies Networked & Social Systems Engineering and researches computer poetry paraphrasing. An associate member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, he is also an active member in his bible study group. He co-runs PennApps Accelerator and Penn Association of Chinese Entrepreneurs. In his spare time, he snowboards and Skypes with his family.