2016-17 Startup Internship Award Winner supported by the Jeff Sutton W’81 Entrepreneurship Internship Fund
Entrepreneurship was always something I have been interested in. I decided I wanted to work at a start-up last summer so that I could experience the true definition of entrepreneurship, from the inside. I found and secured my internship through the website Angel List. The website is very similar to LinkedIn, but solely for the start-up community.
I chose to apply to Sailo, which is a company that does peer-to-peer boat rentals. It could be described as an ‘Airbnb of yachts.’ I was excited about the opportunity because I felt I could get behind their product, which I think is especially important when deciding to work for a start-up (more on that later.) The other reasons I was interested in working at this startup was because of the diversity of roles I could fill and the impact I could have on the overall business. I’m not sure what I want to do in my career, so having the opportunity to do analytics, marketing, finance, and strategy all in one internship was very appealing.
Sailo is also in the earlier stages of a start-up’s life, so I knew my responsibilities and contributions would directly impact the future of the company. My internship started off a little unexpectedly, I was tasked with customer service. This doesn’t sound like a glamorous role, but it was extremely effective in helping me learn all aspects of the business and website in a very short period of time.
My responsibilities then shifted to different projects. I worked with the Head of Marketing to help develop and create content for a new website feature that complemented their main product and also helped attract clicks from Google searches. I worked closely with one of the co-founders to analyze their sales and user data for investor presentations. I was also able to give a lot of input and feedback on smaller, day-to-day decisions. These included optimization of the CRM software, automated emails to customers, small website changes, and input on the handling of bigger deals. I found that my work was very rewarding, and working with the customers helped me notice how much my small actions can make a difference.
I had to work weekends or weird times as well, but the cofounder’s really put the most time into the company. This is why I felt it was important to be such a ‘fan’ of the idea, because this is not a cookie-cutter 9-5 job. My main advice to anyone working at a start-up is to find one you can be passionate about, and make sure you are a good fit with the people! Most of my day is working with others on the team, and it is important to most start-up’s success that the team gets along well and has trust. Interning at Sailo was a unique experience that will give me perspective in any job I take in the future.