Dr. William Zucker Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow
During recruiting, I knew that I wanted to work for a startup that developed a consumer-facing product. When I saw the job posting for Venmo on February 14th I felt that the stars were aligned. What better way to apply for a job at Venmo than by professing my love for Venmo on Valentine’s Day? I met the co-founder, Iqram Magdon-Ismail in New York a few weeks later, and we instantly clicked. We were both bubbling over with ideas for how to get Venmo’s marketing division off the ground. Although Venmo had a phenomenal growth engineering team that focused on user retention, there was much work to be done to get Venmo to ubiquity.
I started my internship and hit the ground running. I was responsible for designing, evaluating, and executing marketing campaigns. Iqram, an excellent mentor, was always available to clarify questions that I had about the product or backend engineering required for campaigns. Empowered by a significant budget and a highly supportive team, I started to roll out campaigns. Several of them flopped, but after some trial and error, I was able to identify campaigns that scaled easily and were highly effective.
Venmo’s NYC office was approximately 30 people, and I found that this was the perfect size for me to be able to interact with everyone seamlessly and learn all of the inner workings of the business. The growth engineers, compliance team, iOS and Android engineers, etc. were all just a few steps away. It was also a fantastic experience being a pioneer of product marketing at Venmo. I was able to take responsibility for everything from idea generation to the nitty, gritty details of executing the campaign and bringing the idea to life.
My advice to students seeking opportunities in start-ups is (as posted on my Wharton Student Diarist blog:http://mbadiaries.wharton.upenn.edu/general-diaries/summer-at-venmo):
1) Find a product or brand that you absolutely love.
2) Find a great mentor and team that will prioritize your growth.
3) Find a culture that resonates with you.
Also, don’t sit around waiting to be told what to do. Bring your ideas to the co-founder, the engineers, and anyone who will listen. Get their feedback, and present actionable items. If you come from consulting, don’t sit around creating pretty slide decks for the internal team whose contents can be conveyed in a 5 bullet e-mail. Create materials that can actually be shipped to clients or to marketing partners. Focus on getting the startup to its overall goal, whether it’s reaching 100 users, 1 million users, or 300 million users.
I almost decided to not return to Wharton for my 2nd year and to join Venmo full time. It was an amazing experience, and I can’t think of a better way to have spent my summer. But this is likely the last time I will ever get to be a full time student, so I’m back at Wharton doing a semester in San Francisco, and savoring every minute of it!