THE 2009-2010 AMBASSADOR OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellowship recipient
About the Ambassadors of Entrepreneurship Program
How do you know you are working for a start-up?
A. The company that you work for doesn’t even have a name yet
B. Your office is in a garage
C. You work, eat, and sleep in the same place
D. Casual Friday is everyday
E. All of the above
Based on my summer internship, my answer to that question is E. All of the above. This past summer, I interned at a medical tourism start up in San Jose, Costa Rica. I found this position through the Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs’ job website. Because the start-up was founded by several Wharton MBA graduates, I interviewed with them on campus. They were very accomplished and easy-going people who I could see myself working with. I was very happy to receive an offer from them and quickly accepted it. Although I was a little worried about not having a traditional internship on Wall Street during the summer of my junior year, my doubts quickly disappeared after I arrived in San Jose. Thinking back, this internship had been an amazing experience that I would never have traded for any other job.
Work: Medical tourism is the act of traveling to obtain health care. The start-up wanted to serve as an intermediary to link people in United States who needs healthcare to the quality hospitals and clinics in Costa Rica that can provide it at an affordable price. I was working with 4 Wharton MBAs. We started from just an idea to now a company that has a business plan and soon to be launched. Together, we researched and made key decisions on everything from which medical procedures to offer to how our employee will be dressed. Because of the small size of the team, I was able to gain a lot of responsibility and ownership for the projects. Two of the projects that I worked on were an analysis of the health insurance industry and a presentation for our potential investors. My research was critical in helping the start up identify market size, macroeconomic development trends, competitors, customer segments, and financial partners.
Play: Living in San Jose was certainly an eye-opening experience. From roller skating to 80s music in the skating rank to taking salsa lessons at the Merecumbe dance school, the internship provided great work life balance that helped me assimilate quickly to a new culture. Getting Chifrijo (rice and pork) at a local bar and going to the movies on two for one Wednesdays quickly became a tradition. During the weekends, I traveled with my coworkers and friends throughout Costa Rica. Again and again, I continue to be awed by the amazing natural beauty of Costa Rica and its friendly people.
People: Working in a start-up could be very challenging given its unstructured environment. There were many times when I lacked the direction or motivation to continue my work. However, my teammates were always very encouraging and helpful. This may sound very cliché, but what I enjoyed most about this internship were the amazing people that I worked with. I was truly impressed by their talent, enthusiasm, entrepreneurial spirit, and willingness to help. They were previously doctors, consultants, founder of their own companies, and engineers who have deep industry expertise and corporate experience. They helped open my eyes to many career opportunities I have never considered before. I would really encourage anyone to intern at a start-up.