Junia Zhang W’14, interned at Avaak in San Diego, CA

2011-2012 Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellowship recipient

Avaak is a start-up company based in San Diego, California that develops and markets revolutionary video networking devices. Its major product, called VueZone, is a small, wire-free video monitoring gadget that can be easily set up anywhere in your home or office. The video syncs to your phone and computer and records in real-time, allowing you to check up on your home base virtually at any time and place.  At Avaak, my internship consisted of analyzing white hat search-engine optimization techniques and developing their marketing strategies for the teenage group.

How did you find the position?
I looked through the Wharton Alumni Directory and reached out to alums in San Diego (my home city) who owned or worked for companies that I found interesting. One of those who responded to my email said that although his company didn’t have any internship openings for the summer, he had a friend who worked at a start-up called Avaak that he could put me in touch with. From there, I reached out to the contact, who called me to discuss my interests and possible responsibilities I could take on at Avaak. I met him at his office in San Diego when I was home, and he ended up creating this internship position for me.

What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
My main goal for this summer was to get some work experience under my belt, and there’s no better way to get a lot of hands-on experience than working at a start-up.

What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
Use all the resources you have at your fingertips – WEP, the Alumni Directory, career services, professors, and friends who have worked in start-ups in the past.

Be prepared for a lot of work. Unlike big-name, established firms, start-ups have a lot of flexibility and freedom to let you be creative and contribute a lot to the direction of the business. At Avaak, I would be balancing multiple tasks at once: developing search engine optimization techniques, researching the composition of a viral online video, helping with the production of Avaak’s marketing videos, and contributing ideas in the creative direction of marketing their products to teenagers.

There is a certain kind of excitement and feeling of accomplishment that ties into working at a start-up that differentiates it from giant corporations. In addition to exercising the immense amount of hands-on, rewarding work that only the flexible structure of start-ups allows, away from the bureaucracy of major firms, I enjoyed the close-knit, enthusiastic atmosphere of Avaak. I definitely recommend anyone who is interested in experiencing the entrepreneurial setting to pursue an internship at a start-up.