2009-2010 Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellowship recipient
Based in Beijing, China, BabySpace, Corp. (www.0-6.com) operates a social networking website focused on mothers and their children ages 0-6 for the local Chinese market. The idea for the business initiated from the growing trend of “post-80s” adults who are starting new families. Because of the “one-child” policy, these young mothers have no siblings to turn to for parenting advice. They also do not want to turn to their parents for advice, so the idea was to create an online community site where mothers can communicate, share ideas, learn about parenting as well as an outlet for them to express themselves through journals and blogs.
My summer internship search was not a conventional one. In fact, throughout the academic year, I was always interested in spending my summer at a start-up, but I never expected to spend it in China. But then I went on the China Global Immersion Program trip. I was fascinated by the country’s growth and development and it was really an eye-opening experience to see and hear from local business leaders. Towards the end of the trip, I decided that I wanted to stay in China for the summer and pursue a summer internship there. Thankfully, I had not committed to a mobile video start-up internship in San Francisco that I had originally planned on taking. I thought that a summer abroad in China would be a much more unique experience.
So, I started my search. It was already mid-June, so I knew I had to work quickly. Coincidentally, the Wharton Global Alumni Forum was in Beijing the week following the end of the GIP trip, so I decided to stay and network. Through the few days at the event, I was able to meet some people and generate some leads. At the same time, I also actively searched through the alumni database. I knew I wanted to be in either Shanghai or Beijing, so I focused on those cities. I also looked for alumni at China focused venture capital funds to see if they had portfolio companies that would need summer help. And of course, I asked my Wharton classmates to see if they had any leads. Fortunately, I ended up with a few options in both cities, ranging from an early-stage cloud computing start-up to a later-stage early-childhood education services company. Ultimately, I made my decision based on the location and my interest in learning about the internet space in China.
Prior to Wharton, I worked at a growth-oriented private equity firm, where I helped evaluate investment opportunities in various sectors. As part of that, a lot of my job involved reading business plans, evaluating new ideas and meeting entrepreneurs and management teams. Given that, I figured it would be interesting to “be on the other side of the table” and experience the operational side of an exciting, growing company. Further, I have always had an entrepreneurial interest and thought spending a summer at a start-up could be an inspiring experience.
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS
Finding the perfect start-up internship is not easy. I would recommend students to make a list of interesting start-ups that they would be interested to intern at and try to find ways to meet them. Utilize all available resources, personal and Wharton – cold calling could work too! And when you do get that opportunity to meet or talk, it would be a good idea to be knowledgeable about current issues facing the company or industry, as well as having ideas on a potential summer project or how you can contribute. A start-up may not be thinking of taking on summer interns and it may be helpful to plant an idea and have them think about it