2016 Startup Internship Award Winner Supported by the Rosalind (WG’76) and Roy (WG’76) Neff Entrepreneurial Internship Fund
This past summer, I worked for the startup, GenHERation. GenHERation is an interactive media company that provides high school girls and college women with access to career exploration, female executives, skill building activities, and scholarships. My sister, Katlyn, founded GenHERation about three years ago and I have seen her work feverishly to make her company a success. Seeing how much fulfillment Katlyn received from pursuing GenHERation made me want to experience what it was like to work for a startup. I told my sister I wanted to be an intern for GenHERation to learn about entrepreneurial career options and she invited me to join the team.
Working for GenHERation was an exhausting, but extraordinary experience. My chief role as an intern for GenHERation was to plan and help execute Discovery Days 2016. Discovery Days 2016 were immersive summer day trips held in 5 cities across the United States that allowed young women to visit the most innovative companies in America. The trips featured visits at more than 40 companies with 150 female executives. I was fortunate enough to visit companies, such as Facebook, Warner Brothers, NBCUniversal, Morgan Lewis, TOMS, Uber, NASA, Bloomberg, J.P. Morgan, the New York Yankees, and Twitter. Each company visit consisted of a panel discussion with executives and simulations. Although I received an abundance of advice from industry professionals, Discovery Days 2016 helped me realize that I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to have a career in entrepreneurship because I want to eradicate problems by coming up with innovative solutions every single day. I appreciate how entrepreneurs have the chance to manage ideas from conception to completion by being creative, resourceful, and curious.
Fortunately, as I interned for GenHERation, I learned what skills entrepreneurs need to possess to pursue unconventional and risky careers. Entrepreneurs have to be flexible. In the startup world, if something does not go as planned, entrepreneurs cannot panic. Instead, entrepreneurs need to adapt and take on tasks whether they are big or small. Even though entrepreneurs are leaders, they also need to be team players. Additionally, entrepreneurs have to be effective communicators. Entrepreneurs have careers because they follow their passions. If entrepreneurs cannot enthusiastically and clearly articulate their passions to an audience then they will have a difficult time thriving. Furthermore, entrepreneurs have to respect everyone that they encounter. Entrepreneurs need to treat the CEO of GSK and his or her assistant with the same amount of respect because as an entrepreneur you are your brand and your brand is your company. Finally, entrepreneurs have to be able to make decisions based on gut instinct. In a technology-driven world, the market changes at a rapid pace, so entrepreneurs need to make quick decisions to keep up with competitors. Relatedly, entrepreneurs need to have thick skin. Not everyone will always believe in entrepreneurs’ decisions or visions, but that is not a problem. As long as entrepreneurs believe in themselves, rather than obsess over discouragement, they will be able to move forward.
When you work for a startup, you surround yourself with brilliant people who challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone. Although this may seem intimidating, working for a startup helps you recognize what your strengths are, allows you to network with a variety of individuals, and gives you responsibilities that you would not have anywhere else. If you are interested in working for a startup, make sure that startup knows. Send emails or cold call, do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door. Once you do, you will embark on a journey that allows you to flex your mind.