2016-17 Startup Internship Award Winner supported by the Jeff Sutton W’81 Entrepreneurship Internship Fund
The path to my summer internship was quite an irregular one. I first got into contact with the founder and CEO of JabaTalks, Mark Veevers-Carter, in October of 2016. I had been invited to a first round interview with a Real Estate fund in Rye, NY called Acadia. When I took the interview, it was unlike any other experience I had had. Incidentally, I was the first commercial user of the JabaTalks platform, and as often happens with brand new technology, my interview was unsuccessful. Mark emailed me quickly and explained that they were working on fixing the bug and that it would be online the next morning. I quickly emailed him back, explaining that what I really desired was a job in a startup environment, not at a suburban financial firm. I ended up arranging a call, keen to get his advice on breaking into the startup world.
A few months later, I was sitting on a train, quite similar to the one I am on as I write this. I wasn’t straddling the French-German border as I am now, rather I was on my way back to Penn from a job interview at a government bureau in Boston. I realized as I walked out of the building that I desired the dynamic environment of a newly born startup, where the pace is frenetic and the work exciting, so I sent Mark an email asking if they were hiring interns. I’ll skip the rest, but with the help of the Startup Internship Award, I was able to join the team a few weeks later.
My time in the tiny WeWork in the Flatiron District was a hugely formative experience. I had the unique position of sitting in between the two co-founders every single day. There was not a facet of the business that I wasn’t exposed to. Early on, I was brought into the fundraising effort. I was given the task of researching potential Angel investors. This responsibility enabled me to learn so much about the Venture Capital industry. I am now very interested in working in the VC field because of my experience assisting with the fundraising effort.
I served as an adviser for all contract negotiations with investors, partners, and clients. More specifically, I was the third pair of eyes responsible for making sure that documents were written accurately and fairly. I would often rewrite entire paragraphs. Influencing the day-to-day activities of the company was all I could ask for out of my summer job. Responsibility forced me to learn a great deal. For this reason, I would advise any student interested in an internship with a startup to go for it fully, as long as they are prepared to be given real, meaningful work. It is an educational opportunity one should not miss out on. Of course, the grant given to me by Wharton made it all possible, and for that, I am again extremely grateful.