2011-2012 Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellowship recipient
How did you find the position?
Cold calling and cold emailing. It is extremely difficult to get started, but first target a few companies you really want to work for. Then do a lot of research. Then pick up the phone or draft an email and send it off. At first I was hesitant, but then I asked myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” The worst thing would be to not try.
What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
During the school year, I worked at a start-up at Penn and at a venture capital firm. I really enjoyed my experience at both, but I really wanted to see what it was like to be in an entrepreneurial environment all day, and I am glad I did.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
Reach out and try to contact anyone at a start-up you want to work for. People at start-ups tend to be highly receptive. Most importantly, be very enthusiastic. You have to show you really want to work there.
About the Summer Experience
After interning at a venture capital firm during the school year, I knew I wanted to get my feet wet on the other side of the table. Being a native New Yorker and watching its tech scene grow rapidly made it a no brainer for the summer. Given the abundance of hot start-ups and my non-existent network in the start-up scene. I had no idea where to start.
Over the next few weeks, I made a list of about 100 start-ups that I wanted to work at. Fortunately, I only had to call and email 3, and I was invited to 3 interviews. I wound up working at Hashable, a business networking app, for the summer. During my time there I was doing a little bit of everything. For the first couple of weeks I was doing user testing. I was wandering the streets of New York with my fellow intern John Exley, and we solicited random people for their feedback on the app. We would then analyze and synthesize our reviews and report our findings. My next project was to redo all of their marketing copy. I had the privilege of working with Emily Hickey, who was employee number 14 at HotJobs before their IPO when they had 800 employees. Together we created an entire marketing strategy focusing on the Hashable homepage and in-app language (an ongoing theme throughout my internship). It was very rewarding seeing some of the language I had suggested being implemented. Moreover, I created several of the images, videos, and blog posts that the company still uses.
I simultaneously worked with the VP of Business Development, helping out with usage analytics and strategic implementation. I immediately learned that the business development role entailed a lot of everything. One minute I was playing with excel spreadsheets and the next I was optimizing our Twitter analytics. I also got to work with the design team a little bit, given my strong background in Photoshop. I had to mock a few things up, edit graphics, and even help out the Director of UX. Overall, I was exposed to nearly everything and everyone. The office was one big room, and everyone including the CEO was constantly talking about the product and its timeline. I don’t think I could have asked for a more insightful look into what it’s like to work at a start-up.
In addition to working hard at Hashable, I was highly integrated in the New York start-up community. I kicked off the summer by volunteering at TechCrunch Disrupt. I got to hear amazing speakers, meet great people, and see the future of start-ups for three straight days. John and I were able to meet a lot of the other interns working at or interested in tech start-ups. We realized that there were so many people interested, but wanted to create a more unified community, so we set out to organize a couple of events. Our first New York Tech Intern Event was at the end of June. Our surprise keynote speaker was Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit and Hipmunk, and had over 130 interns in attendance. Due to the success of our first event, we knew immediately that we needed to plan a second one. The next event was in August, to wrap up the summer as students began to leave for college. We were able to get an analyst from Union Square Ventures (investors in Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and more) and Dina Kaplan, co-founder of Blip.tv. Attendance at this event also exceeded our expectations and was a great way to wrap up the summer. In between the events, John and I were able become really good friends with a lot of other interns through Student New York Tech Meetup.
Looking back on this past summer, I don’t think I could have asked for more. I learned more than I thought possible, worked at a fun and cool company, met a ton of great people, and got to spend time with my family. The experiences I had at Hashable confirmed my decision to choose an entrepreneurial career path.