Vaibhav Goel (W’14/SEAS’14), interned at PowerFlower Solar – a Wharton VIP alumni company – in Haddonfield, NJ

THE 2011-2012 AMBASSADOR OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellowship recipient

How did you find the position?
I called and talked to various Penn alumni who had started their own business.

What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
Start-ups offer a glimpse into companies that you can’t get from working at Fortune 500 companies. The skills and experience you’ll earn from working at a start-up are things you can carry throughout your career.

What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
Be persistent. Finding a job at a start-up requires the same skills as working at a start-up. Take the initiative to contact people, be persistent when people may say no, and be creative in how you approach your search.

About the Summer Experience
This past summer, I worked for PowerFlower Solar, a Philadelphia-based start-up focused on creating a more efficient solar panel usable in emergency and military situations. As the marketing and research intern, I researched emerging markets for the company, and developed a database of competing products that the company can use in formulating future strategies; later, I contacted government agencies to attain a better understanding for the type of product required in different markets. The unique aspect of this internship was that I worked remotely from Texas; as a result, the internship required a high level of communication (via Skype, phone, and later Google Hangouts) to ensure all operations ran smoothly.

I found this internship through the M&T community. I reached out to the company’s founder, a graduate of the program, who was looking for summer interns to assist him with his work and research. The work I did, although relatively basic, provided valuable insight into the start-up world. The flexibility, the high degree of accountability, and the immediate impact of any effort were all qualities that have encouraged me to pursue entrepreneurial experiences in the future. If nothing else, the internship experience has certainly motivated me to pursue ideas in a different way—to think about situations in ways that other people will not and to capitalize on emerging opportunities as much as possible.

To those seeking start-up based internships in the future, I recommend contacting as many companies as possible and talking directly with their founders. One of the greatest qualities of a start-up is that one has the opportunity to interact with the company’s head honchos—people who tend to be ridiculously ambitious and innovative, to say the least. Understanding the dynamics of a start-up is an important step in appreciating the life of these entrepreneurs and more importantly, an excellent stepping stone towards discovering your own entrepreneurial inclinations.