Sean Toolan WG’14 interned at Hewlett Chivee Partners LLC in New York, NY

2013-2014 Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellow

How did you find your position?

I found my intern position at Hewlett Chivée Partners / Center for Talent Innovation through a friend and colleague from my Marine Corps Reserve unit. When I learned about the ventures that Hewlett Chivée Partners were involved with and that they were beginning work on Veterans’ employment initiatives, we informally spoke about the possibility of me interning at Hewlett Chivée.

What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?

My motivation for working at a start-up this summer was that I wanted to learn about how start-ups operate from an inside perspective and how they position themselves for further growth.

What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?

I personally feel that working at a start-up is one of the best possible internship experiences someone can pursue. My internship gave me a perspective on business and entrepreneurship that I would have never received at a larger company. I was also given a lot of freedom to work on many of the different projects that my organization was working on because they were smaller, more agile, and very willing to make my internship the best possible experience. My advice to students interested in working at a start-up is to seek out as many possible roles and learning experiences as you can at your start-up. I feel like this is more possible at a start-up because they are willing to give interns the freedom to contribute in several different areas of their business.

Getting the internship and the transition

Once I expressed my interest in working at Hewlett Chivée, my friend endorsed my application and forwarded my resume to the company’s partners. I received an interview and feel fortunate to have received an offer shortly thereafter. The transition to working at an entrepreneurial start-up like Hewlett Chivée after serving in the Marine Corps for seven years prior to Wharton was very smooth because the team at Hewlett Chivée treated me like a member of their team from day one. Although I did have to adjust to a very collaborative and flattened organizational structure as compared to the Marine Corps’ hierarchical structure, I felt that many of the teamwork skills I gained in the military helped me to better understand where I could contribute within the organization.

The internship experience

My experience working at Hewlett Chivée was very valuable and insightful. Not only did I have the opportunity to work on several different human resources and organizational management projects for large multinational corporations, but I was also exposed to a very innovative business model that they operate under. In cooperation with the Center for Talent Innovation, a non-profit think-tank that focuses on human resources issues and research, Hewlett Chivée Partners operates as a private advisory arm that can assist companies in a more entrepreneurial manner than the non-profit think-tank could have. At the same time, the private advisory services of Hewlett Chivée Partners allowed the Center for Talent Innovation to more deeply focus on research and policy issues. It was very interesting to be able to work in an organization that had such vast resources and knowledge on human resource issues and observe how they leveraged different aspects of their overall organization to provide services to their clients. Because Hewlett Chivée is a start-up and so entrepreneurial by nature, the senior members of the firm gave me tremendous flexibility and opportunity to work on several different projects for clients in various industries. I feel that because I was at a start-up, I was able to gain far more exposure to the different aspects of the work that Hewlett Chivée did than I ever would have been able to gain at a bigger company. I also feel like my colleagues at the firm were more willing to work with me and teach me about the different methodologies and technologies that they used because we were a smaller company.

What I learned from my internship experience

My internship experience was a tremendous learning opportunity. I definitely learned that working at a start-up allows interns to have a great degree of freedom to explore different types of work. To get the most out of your internship experience at a start-up, you definitely need to be willing to work on anything and remain flexible. It is also helpful to ask more senior leaders at the start-up to work on projects that interest you so that you can contribute in the most meaningful way possible for both the start-up and yourself.