Celia Lewis W’14 interned at PoverUP in Philadelphia, PA

2011-2012 Startup Internship Award winner, supported by the Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board

This past summer I worked with a fellow Wharton Sophomore, Charlie Javice (W’14) on a start-up she had founded last year called PoverUP. PoverUP is a microfinance action platform that allows students to learn, connect, and invest in sustainable business solutions to help alleviate poverty worldwide.

Charlie and I first met last year during a pre-orientation program out of Civic House, called PennCORP (Penn Civic ORientation Program). There, the topic of microfinance and social enterprise came up in one of our conversations, and Charlie and I bonded over our likeminded perspectives on social impact and service.

I began helping Charlie out with PoverUP a few months later, in early 2011. As the summer quickly approached, we considered several options, and upon Charlie’s recommendation, applied to the WEP Intern Fellows Program. After receiving notice that we had been awarded some funds, we quickly moved forward with our plans, which included confirming temporary office space with General Assembly (GA), a large co-working space for tech start-ups in NY.

GA was an exciting and fast-paced environment. At GA, I also met many Wharton graduates (both from the undergraduate school and graduate school) who had founded their own start-ups, were working on a start-up, or, like me, were interning for a start-up. This opportunity gave me great exposure to the start-up community and gave me the chance to understand first hand the realities of the field of entrepreneurship and how it played out outside from what I had learned in a classroom.

With PoverUP I was able to lead, participate in, and watch the development of a number of projects and critical components of the start-up, from the creation of our technology strategy, to the development of marketing materials, to meeting with corporate partners, and much, much more. As such a young start-up in many early stages of development, there was always a lot to be done with PoverUP and many opportunities to get involved in various aspects of its projects.

Moving forward, I’d say that while the start-up environment and experience demands some different strategies than those applicable to a more structured field, for those interested in start-ups seeking an internship at a company in a field of your interest or in a position matching your skill set is a great way to get involved and learn more about the community as a whole.