2016-2017 Startup Internship Award Winner supported by the Jeff Sutton W’81 Entrepreneurship Internship Fund
Since a young age, travel has fascinated me, and recently I have become interested in Latin America through studying Spanish and Portuguese. Because of this, I decided that I wanted to spend a summer combining my interests, instead of being shuffled into many of the traditional career paths that most Wharton students seem to take.
Imagine my excitement when I found LocalAventura, a travel startup operating in 10 Latin American countries that was founded by two Wharton MBA alumnae and one Penn undergrad alumna! I knew that I had to jump on the opportunity to try and work there. So, after spending 6 months abroad in Brazil, I ended up going straight to Mexico City, Mexico to work with LocalAventura for the summer.
While I learned a ton about fast-growing early-stage startups and many of the difficulties they face, the travel-specific aspect of my work was really fascinating to me. LocalAventura, as an online platform, sells tours given by passionate local guides to English-speaking travelers visiting Latin America. They pride themselves on vetting every tour before adding it to their platform, which essentially meant that I got to test out a bunch of tours! In Mexico City, I went on a photography tour, a street art tour and multiple food tours, consuming more tacos than I’d like to admit. I also got to travel to Guadalajara and Oaxaca, two very intriguing and different cities where I learned more about tequila and mezcal and saw much of what makes Mexico so fascinatingly diverse—each state has vastly different cultures, foods, traditions and people, yet the country doesn’t appear to be fragmented because of this, and it was incredible to explore more of the diversity of Mexican culture.
However, beyond traveling, one of the best parts of this summer was having the chance to get to know Mexico City. I love exploring cities, and Latin American cities in particular are exciting, fast-paced and full or surprises, so every time I had some free time this summer, I was out exploring Mexico City’s different neighborhoods, trying its different foods, learning more in different museums and having an all-around incredible experience. Spending this summer in Mexico was an unforgettable experience—I learned a lot and grew as a person, but this summer also introduced complicated things. I’m now conflicted as to whether I want to stay in the US after graduation or move to Latin America!