2016 Startup Internship Award Winner Supported by The Jeff Sutton (W’81) Entrepreneurship Internship Fund
This summer, I interned at the DC branch of a private dining startup, SixPlus. SixPlus describes itself as OpenTable, but for larger groups. In other words, SixPlus aims to be the private dining concierge and booking platform for parties ranging from 6 people to 200. Truthfully, I went into the internship not really knowing what to expect. At the time, I had never worked full-time and/or on-site for a startup; my past internship experiences ranged from working in the Business Development department of a private government contractor’s corporate office to working in a biomolecular research lab.
At first, I did feel that the internship had perhaps less formal structure than my past internships – there was no formalized department head for interns, no specified timeline of events, no particular projects for interns. But over time, I realized that the lack of a formal internship program was remarkably fortunate — I felt that I was another member of the team, rather than a separated entity. From the start, there was an open line of communication between the CEO, market heads, the Product Developer, and little ol’ me. Although there was an adjustment period at the start before I felt truly comfortable with expressing myself freely with the DC City Manager and during our weekly team calls, by the second month of the internship, I felt comfortable enough to voice my opinions and, most importantly, I felt that the work I did day to day was actually making a tangible contribution to the company. I was working with real clients, from initial contact to verbal confirmation to contracts signed and deposits sent in. I was working with real restaurant partners, working with the DC City Manager from outreach to pitching to onboarding. I was working to create relationships and lay foundation for a quickly growing company – doing something real every single day.
There is most definitely something very unique to working for a startup and I have to say that I learned so much this past summer. The experience was truly challenging, educational, and uniquely fulfilling.
How did you find the position? (i.e., cold calling, MBACM, PennLink, etc.)
I found my internship via AngelList. I looked specifically for full-time startup intern positions in the Washington D.C. area and applied to a few startups I was interested in through the platform.
What was your motivation for working at a startup this summer? (i.e., industry experience, experience to leverage for own start-up, career changer, etc.)
I wanted to work for a startup this summer for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I was excited to spend my summer doing work that I could see actually making a large impact on the company and its future. In the past, I had worked corporate and lab jobs, and was eager to experience a different work experience – one in which I felt more responsibility and got more involved with the company on a higher level. In addition, I wanted to spend the summer learning more about what entrepreneurship really means and what really goes into making strategic business decisions for a small company.
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a startup this summer?
I would encourage students to look through platforms like AngelList that are specifically built for hirers and job-seekers in the startup industry. Additionally, I would also encourage students to just keep their eyes and ears out for startups started by their own classmates – there are actually quite a few opportunities on campus.