2016 Startup Internship Award Winner Supported by The Rosalind (WG’76) and Roy (WG’76) Neff Entrepreneurial Internship Fund
This past summer, I was a Customer Insights Intern at Negative Underwear (Negative).
I quite fortuitously discovered Negative. During the school year, I was a campus ambassador for another start-up called LOLA, a company founded by women, for women. I loved my experience working with LOLA. Largely due to its start-up nature, I felt the passion of LOLA founders and employees, an aura which was great to work within. Since at the time LOLA had literally just launched a few months ago, I really enjoyed the ownership over our projects and influence that us ambassadors had on the company. Finally, I appreciated the ability to work extremely closely with and get to know employees from all levels of the company, including the co-founders.
With this start-up and “by women, for women,” spirits, my fellow LOLA ambassadors and I organized a women in entrepreneurship panel. I met Marissa Vosper, co-founder of Negative, at this event as she was one of the panel speakers. Marissa mentioned that Negative has an internship program and that I should reach out to her when internship application season rolled around. I knew I wanted to follow up with Marissa on this offer – Negative shared a lot of qualities with LOLA that I discovered to love as an ambassador. Additionally, I felt interning at a start-up in a more “official” role for three months straight would be an intense learning experience from which I would gain a lot of exposure, different from any other experience I had had before.
My internship experience with Negative indeed met these expectations. When people ask me what I did with my internship, I often take a deep breath. It is not a simple answer. My first week, I started out analyzing customer data and making insights based off this data. I also learned some logistical procedures like order fulfillment. As the days and weeks went by, though, the data analysis project I started off with would evolve and I would take on more and more projects, learn more and more logistical procedures: developing a customer satisfaction survey, negotiating our shipping rates, pulling samples for shoot loans, managing our returns/exchange process, setting up for a trunk show, crafting email campaigns.
Beyond the work that I officially did, though, I was lucky to have two fantastic bosses as mentors and co-interns as friends. Our bosses would take us on staff outings to learn more about us and give life advice over tea. My co-interns and I would eat lunch together and help each other with struggles (that we didn’t want to approach our bosses about quite yet) through Gchat. I do not think going through this experience would have been possible – and definitely not as meaningful – without the care and support of our team. I know our bonds didn’t end on my last day, either.
With that, I would like to thank Negative for an awesome first internship experience and wonderful summer.
To students looking for similar experiences, I would recommend connecting with a start-up’s internal contacts whether through a panel event at Penn, an ambassador program, or an email directly to the company. Since start-ups are usually small and intimate, they are likely to respond to such direct leads. Keep in mind that start-ups don’t always advertise opportunities like internships, or at least not in an officially structured way – appropriate entrepreneurially, the process takes much more agency on your part. Good luck and feel free to reach out to me for advice 🙂