2015-2016 Startup Internship Award Winner, supported by the Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellowship fund
How did I find the position?
I searched on various job listing websites and on start-up accelerator listings.
What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
I wanted to gain experience in the business side of health care and I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to learn something new and get a taste of what emerging companies are doing in terms of innovation within the healthcare space.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a startup this summer?
Go in with an open mind, be ready to work and be involved! Also, look high and low when you do your internship search. I didn’t find mine on PennLink. I just went online and typed in what fields/industries I was interested in and looked through a list of results. If you know of any start up accelerators, look through their past clientele lists for possible companies you might be interested in.
What I Did
This summer, I had the wonderful experience of being a marketing intern for Kurbo Health. It is a startup in Palo Alto that is focused on helping kids and teens manage their weight by teaching them healthy habits. Their service consists of a mobile app that is used for tracking food and exercise, health coaching via Skype or Facetime and unlimited access to nutritional support and advice. You are probably familiar with a similar program, Weight Watchers. But what makes Kurbo different is that it caters to the youth market. Weight Watchers does not accept anyone under the age of 18 and with the rising childhood obesity epidemic that our nation is facing, it is clear that there needs to be safe and effective solutions for kids and teens too. So, that’s where Kurbo comes in! Their special traffic light food classification system and behavioral modification program is meant to teach kids healthy habits and help them make positive, sustainable changes so that they can grow into healthy adults too. As a marketing intern, I was assigned a couple specific projects, such as reaching out to the mom blogger community to solicit their help in spreading the word about Kurbo and creating a school Kurbo nutrition curriculum that could be used to teach healthy eating habits at schools. People often say that when you work at a startup, you’ll often wear multiple hats and do more than just one duty–that was definitely true during my experience. In addition to those projects, I also had a slew of other tasks that I did daily. Those included posting on the company Facebook page, blogging, responding to customer support questions, providing feedback about the app, helping to put together or edit marketing materials, answering phones, filming videos and just helping out in whatever way I could.
What I Learned
Throughout the internship, I learned a lot, but I’ll just highlight a few things here. One of those was search engine optimization. I got the opportunity to practice writing purposefully and creating search-friendly blog content. I also got to practice my pitching skills. Whether it was talking to customers on the phone, through our online chat or cold-emailing bloggers, the ultimate goal was to convert them into
customers who would either use our service or recommend our service to others. Thus, understanding the customers and crafting a short but compelling pitch that would convince them that they needed our produce was key. Lastly, one of the most important lessons I learned was the importance of prioritization. In a startup, you are most likely going to be busy almost all the time. For example, I was given specific projects that had long-term deadlines. In addition to those, I also had small, daily tasks that were equally important. I had to be very efficient with my time and plan out what things I were going to focus on each day so that I would be able to complete everything on time. I found that setting small goals or targets was also quite helpful.
What I Enjoyed Most
Overall, my internship was a very enjoyable experience. It was my first time in an actual business office setting and one of my favorite parts about it was that I felt like I was a part of “the team.” The office had a pretty casual atmosphere and everyone was very welcoming. Every Friday, we would have all-team meetings where the CEO would update us on her progress and we’d then go around talking about our work. It was really nice because even though I was just an intern, I felt like my contributions mattered. I enjoyed having ownership of my own projects and having the freedom to figure out how I wanted to achieve the end-goal that my marketing director had outlined for me. I also enjoyed the challenge of having to solve problems and come up with new marketing techniques that could increase engagement on our social media pages or that would appeal more to our target audience. All in all, if you are wondering whether or not a start-up is the right environment for you, I’d say just go for it! You never know until you try. I really value my time at Kurbo and the things I learned as an intern. If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.