Michelle Liu M&T’16, interned at Cooperatize in New York City, NY

2014-2015 Neff Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow

This summer I spent 10 weeks in New York City working at Cooperatize Inc, an online native advertising platforms that connects brands to blogs. One of the company’s two founders was M&T 00’ alum Roger Wu. I found this internship through an OCR email sent to the M&T list-serve. From there I emailed the alum offering the email and scheduled phone interviews with the founders. Afterwards I was asked to send in two reference letters, and was notified that I had received the internship about 2 weeks later.

My advice for students looking for summer opportunities is to pay close attention to these emails sent through the list-serve, so many alums are involved in every field imaginable, so there will definitely be some sort of summer opportunity you would find interesting among them.

Cooperatize so far has only two permanent employees, Roger and Al, who founded the company back in mid 2012. The premise of their start up is to provide an online network where brands looking for methods of native advertising (advertisement that is integrated with relevant content) can find blogs and work out campaigns for their products. Cooperatize is a relatively new company with very little people running it, so there was a lot of work to be done and I was given complete freedom to choose projects that I was interested in. Towards the beginning of my internship I focused on familiarizing myself with their website and understanding their service within the context of the vast industry of online advertising. I worked on generating new leads and researching competitors various websites and business models. Once I had a better understanding of the sphere the company worked in, I began implementing improvements and new features to their website, along with helping out with current campaigns and order flow processes. By the end of the summer I had helped the company reach a database of over 3000 users, redesigned the user interface, and implemented a new contact form and help desk.

What stuck out to me the most is that working at such an intimate and close level of a product really pushes you to produce your best work. There was nothing standing in-between me and their website; changes that I made would affect their business immediately. This pushed me to make sure my work was as sound and error free as possible, as my decisions were directly affecting the only exiting product. I also learned how to think more creatively and on my feet. The founders of my company were very adamant about the fact that in a new industry space the “rules” of a space are rarely defined and the best way to figure something out was go to ahead and work by trial and error, instead of hypothetically fretting over every detail that might not apply.

The internship provided me insight into the type of work environment and industry I want to work in. I enjoyed the amount of freedom and impact I had while working, and gained the confidence that I can produce valuable code. I also reaffirmed my interest in business strategy that is closely related to the technology implementing it. However, I also realized that I want to apply my skills to a different industry other than online advertising. My advice for students who want to work in a start up is to find one in an industry that you’re really passionate about, because it is a great way to learn everything about that industry and gain firsthand experience.