Startups

9 Shark Tank Start Up Lessons You Might Learn This Summer

 

Have you ever wondered how the aspiring entrepreneurs on Shark Tank develop business pitches to investors?

Would you like to catch a glimpse of how guys like Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook? 

There are over 450 companies in Kendall Square, Cambridge, over 1,00 startups in the Boston Innovation District on the Boston waterfront and over 900 in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. You too, can get involved in this exciting way of life.

Some of our most fascinating Boston internships for the last 8 years have been at some of these companies. Here are some of the things you might learn:

–         What does it take to come up with a business idea?

–         What goes into an effective pitch?

–         Who funds startup companies?

–         Which are some of the most successful startups in Boston?

–         Where are some of the hundreds of networking events (called meetups by techies) in Boston and Cambridge?

–         What is a co-working space?

–         What are the more well-known business incubators in Boston?

–         What does each day look like at a startup?

–         What are some of the roles individuals play at these companies?

Whether you are a high school or college student, our business mentors will give you a rarified glimpse into this exceptional community of entrepreneurs:

 

A Startup Internship in Boston for a Vanderbilt Economics Major

 

Ethan, pictured on the right with his mentor, was a Dean’s list Economics major with a minor in Computer Science at Vanderbuilt University. Ethan already had 2 finance internships under his belt, but this time he was looking for a summer experience where he could role up his sleeves and get involved in all aspects of a startup. We matched him to Ted, an incredibly personable mentor and Director of Sales at Privy.

The following are Ethan’s responses to our Internship Connection Journal questions:

List the kinds of things you’ve been doing at work.

So far my experience have been great! I’ve had great exposure. Ted has been very helpful and assigned me to a wide variety of tasks, letting me learn new things. I’ve been doing lots of work with Excel spreadsheets, Salesforce and LinkedIn. For example, I created a spreadsheet outlining the common traits and trends between all of the successful sales deal that Ted has made in order to identify future customers.

What’s been the best part of your internship?

I sat in on a staff meeting that’s held twice a year that they call the Town Hall. All the employees discuss what has been happening this year and changes going forward.

We look forward to following Ethan’s career, knowing that this internship continued his professional growth.

FinTech Internships in Boston


FinTech are cutting edge technologies used to support or enable banking and financial services, and are the fastest-growing areas for venture capitalists. Related companies in Boston include LevelUp, Evertrue, Flywire, Circle and Plastiq and more. We are currently reaching out to companies specializing in Financial Technology for our students interested in finance and startups.
Stay tuned to read about students’ success stories in this exciting new area.

How Nicole Got Face Time With Dozens Of Investors At Boston’s Ed Tech Accelerator

  Nicole with Asad Butt, the Director of LearnLaunch

With an interest in business, we placed Nicole on a High School Internship followed by a College Internship.

Now that she completed her freshman year of college, we thought that she should gain exposure to what’s very current and exciting in the business world these days. Now that the concept of business startups has matured years beyond companies such as Facebook and Twitter, the business accelerator programs that foster these young companies are expanding rapidly on college campuses and cities around the world. One startup incubator in Boston is quite unique, its mission to help early-stage education technology companies bring their promising technology solutions successfully to market.

LearnLaunch provides seed funding, office space and mentorship for entrepreneurs who have been selected for their innovative ideas related to education technology. The culmination of their three-month program is the final presentation (Demo Day) to hundreds of angel investors and venture capitalists.

 

Words From Nicole’s Journal

In her journal, Nicole tells us what’s she’s been up to on her internship:

Conducted cohort interviews with the CEO’s about the program
Took notes from Cohort Pitches to Angel Investors
Created teacher and tech surveys, questionnaires, activities and flyer for Hackathon Event
Researched Edtech newsletters for relevant information
Organized Edtech Investments, company’s leads, contact list and cohort calendar

What has been the best part of your internship?

The best part of my internship has been doing work to prepare for all the events happening at LearnLaunchX, actually working at the events and meeting such a wide variety of business leaders and investors.

Can you describe a situation when you had to be a bit courageous during your internship?

After Demo Day, my boss wanted me to collect the cohort’s feedback about the event, as well as conduct interviews with them about their overall experience at LearnLaunchX.  Since I didn’t know the participants very well yet, I was a little uncomfortable asking for their feedback about Demo Day. In addition, I had to create questions to ask the CEOs of each company about their thoughts on the program. I had never done anything like this before and I wasn’t sure what kind of questions to ask them because I didn’t know much about the program, but in spite of my reservations, it all went very smoothly. 

 

 

Business Internship With Winner Of Harvard’s Innovation Challenge

Matt, a junior at Lexington  Christian Academy was interested in business, and through our contacts with the Harvard Innovation Lab, we established an internship with the winner of Harvard’s Innovation Challenge. This startup, located in Cambridge, MA provides customers with the ability to search, from all electronic devices, hundreds of daily deals sites in order to save more and get deeper discounts.

Matt worked directly under the CEO and his role involved research, marketing, advertising and brainstorming creative pitch ideas. He told us that the highlight of the summer was the chance to set up a booth in Harvard Square to pitch the company. His boss told him that he was responsible for coming up with the entire plan including hiring people for the promotion as well as creating the marketing materials. While as first a bit overwhelmed, Matt quickly rose to the challenge and executed a highly successful event. Matt enjoyed the camaraderie of the team and felt that he made long lasting connections for the future.

Best Mentor in History!

At Internship Connection, we seek out mentors who take a genuine interest in each student. After speaking to Claire Varner, the Chief Academic Officer of HSTRY, https://www.hstry.co/ an exciting startup related to education, Dr. Jabbawy felt that her heartfelt enthusiasm to mentor students as well as her company’s mission related to education would lead to a great internship experience.
With interests in education, history and business, we placed Chloe, a sophomore at The Rivers School and Derek, a junior at Noble and Greenough, under Claire’s mentorship.

“HSTRY’s mission is to captivate students. I think it’s wonderful that both Derek and Chloe can see how a new product is launched and how many modifications are made.

-Mentor Claire Varner, Chief Academic Officer

HSTRY is a company that has created a digital learning tool that enables teachers, students and historians to create and explore interactive timelines. Using a platform designed to mimic social media, HSTRY presents content in a format that is easily understood, engaging, and familiar to the 21st century student.

On her site visit to Derek and Chloe, Dr. Jabbawy observed a weekly seminar where interns presented their work on PowerPoint from the previous week. Their mentor complimented their work and at the same time, posed questions that would lead to a deeper awareness of the company’s mission.

Excerpts from Derek’s Journal:

  • Having autonomy when doing my work, creating the timelines; I think this was a rare opportunity for a high school student to gain exposure to this type of internship. It wasn’t just getting coffee but a true learning experience.

 

  • I didn’t realize the enormous scope of the startup industry in Boston- all the various business accelerators, including this one. It’s really a hot industry in Boston.

 

  • Creating content for the timelines took much longer than I thought. It was important to tailor the content to the developmental level of the audience and finding various sources for my research.

 

Excerpts from Chloe’s Journal:

  • I learned that I should be comfortable voicing my opinion in a group setting. Claire loved my idea about using a different color palate for their new concept, wedding timelines. I created a spreadsheet on my wedding research and also created wedding timelines to advertise the product.

 

  • I love the environment, as it is very collaborative and friendly. I already feel like I have a better grasp on what working at a start-up would be like.

 

  • I’ve really enjoyed talking to Claire about her experiences at conferences, meetings with other start up businesses and also asking her questions about her background in education.

A Startup Internship in New York City for a High School Sophomore

 

It was wonderful to discover that Neeraj went on to UCLA after high school and interned at Goldman Sachs last summer, as an investment banking analyst.

So how did Neeraj’s journey in finance begin? When he was at Princeton Day School, in our initial conversation with him, Neeraj told us that his cousins in San Francisco were involved in investment banking. He thought that he might like to have an internship in finance to gain early exposure to the field.

Why he chose to intern for a startup company instead of a financial firm?

We encouraged Neeraj to shift his focus from a financial firm for the time being. We explained that for someone who was age 16, a better idea might be to intern for a startup company, where he would actually be able to be delve into real work, and at the same time, see how businesses get started and funded.

Internships must be educational

We often hear from many parents who tell us that the summer before they contact us, their child interned for a relative or friend of the parents at either a law or financial firm, to their dissatisfaction. The students usually end up filing and photocopying and often get turned off from their experiences. My philosophy at Internship Connection is to make sure, when contacting a potential workplace mentor, that the student will be involved in a variety of tasks and meaningful work. The experience must be educational.

He learned about the financial aspects of running a startup and how to raise money

After researching potential businesses, we connected Neeraj to Privy. A startup funded by investors for over five million dollars, the company offers a local online marketing platform for businesses. Privy’s focus is to make it easy for local merchants to offer in-store promotions on the web that customers can redeem at their locations with their mobile phones, allowing local businesses to enhance local visibility and better target deals to consumers.

We thought that Neeraj, since his family owned a small business, would really be able to understand Privy’s mission and contribute his own ideas. In addition, he could learn about the financial aspects of running a startup and how the founders raise money.

Jake Cohen, Director of Strategy took Neeraj under his wing, providing thoughtful and challenging tasks.

Words from Neeraj’s journal

Question: List the kinds of things that you’ve been doing at work.

  1. Providing Research Analysis on different Venture Capitals and Startup Mentors in a spreadsheet format
  2. Attending and participating in and out of office meetings with different people and companies
  3. Providing insight and suggestions on the Privy Database through examination of the Dashboard
  4. Participating in company calls
  5. Participating in Privy Dashboard analysis
  6. Learning new marketing skills and concepts through real-world situations with Jake.

Question: What has been the best part of your internship?

With many great parts about my internship, the best part is gaining real-world experience while participating in meetings with clients and partners. By sitting in and participating in these meetings, not only am I receiving new marketing knowledge and experience with dealing in people to people situations, but also these meetings have provided me with a new perspective on the inner workings of a company’s growth. Seeing Privy grow daily as a startup has truly been a great part of my internship with both myself and Jake happy with company progress as the weeks go by.

Question: Can you describe a situation during your internship in which you took a risk by putting yourself in a new position, such as meeting new people, asking questions, making suggestions? Write a paragraph or two about this situation explaining how it made you feel and what you learned about yourself as a result.

During the second week of my internship, I was asked by my boss to provide analysis for the new Privy dashboard for merchants and small business owners. By simulating myself as a small business owner, I was able to step into the shoes of the client, a pivotal part of the development of a company, and my primary job was to provide advice and suggestions for the dashboard to make it user-friendly for clients.

Knowing well that by providing valid and beneficial suggestions would boost my reputation as a good intern while helping the company, I was faced with thinking on my feet with pressure to provide good advice. As the simulation continued however, I realized that by focusing on simulating an SMB owner and by focusing on the task at hand without emotional or mental constraint, I was able to provide sound advice without overthinking the situation. The result was positive with some of my advice actually helping and being implemented in the newer edition of the dashboard providing me with some confidence. As a result of this, I started trusting myself and my ideas more as the internship has continued.

A note from Neeraj’s mother, Sudha Devulapalli

Hi Carole,
It was a pleasure talking to you this morning. No amount of words and gratitude is enough for the role you have played in inspiring Neeraj. I really appreciate your valuable suggestion about incorporating Neeraj’s internship experience in to his college essays. I think it is a great idea and will add a lot of value to his essay and application.
Best regards,
Sudha Devulapalli

We Secured A Boston Sports Internship For This High School Sophomore

When I ask young men who have called about our program- “What would be your fantasy internship”, almost always their answer is “Interning for the Boston Red Sox.”  While those coveted spots are few and far between, their response tells me that a sports related internship would be ideal.

Case in point was Billy, a sophomore at Phillips Academy. Billy was already a talented writer, the Head Manager at Press Room Sports: Boston, a sports blog thatprovided regional news, analysis, and opinions from writers who are just as passionate as their readers.” Billy had written weekly on topics ranging from the Celtics’ rebuilding plans to the “State of the NBA.” He had also written weekly articles for the sports and features section of his school newspaper.

We were able to match Billy to one of the coolest and most successful startups located on the Boston Waterfront. Coachup helps athletes reach the next level by connecting them with private coaches in every sport, nationwide.

In his journal, Billy wrote:

“The atmosphere at CoachUp has been awesome and I’ve always felt accepted, even though I’m the youngest in the office. It’s great being able to work in an environment I enjoy, rather than one I dread. My mentor, like the rest of the office, is very upbeat and positive. The environment is young, friendly, and enjoyable.”

What have you been doing there?

Working on my big project: the e-Book. The e-Book is comprised of articles written by myself and other interns with information we’ll be gathering from conducting phone interviews with some of CoachUp’s more notable coaches (i.e. ex-professionals/college notables).

Other projects include:

  • Working with their website
  • Fixing links on their blogs
  • Sifting through messages between coaches and clients
  • Approving/disapproving many coaching applications
  • Writing some of my own video tip blogs

Can you describe a situation during your internship in which you really put yourself out there? How did it made you feel and what did you learn about yourself?

 

A couple of weeks ago I conducted my first phone interview for the e-Book project with former NBA player Lamond Murray. I was kind of nervous at first, because I wasn’t too sure of how seriously he was going to take the interview. I was amazed at how thoughtful he was throughout our conversation and how much information he shared with me about how he grew up playing basketball. I was ecstatic with how well the interview went and even decided to write an extra blog about Lamond’s life because he gave me so much information. The success of Lamond’s interview instilled a lot of confidence in me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better first interview.

 

 

Engineering and Science Internship at a Great Boston Startup

Brendan, a junior at Carlisle High School,  is a very well rounded student who enjoys learning, especially chemistry and biology. Also, as a skier and outdoor enthusiast he became very interested in conservation and sustainability. Combining these interests, we matched Brendan to the CEO of a company that was developing an innovative and sustainable way to manufacture mosaics, using a robotic manufacturing process.

 

Brendan worked in production and conducted small engineering projects. He designed methods to unload tile tubes more efficiently, designing a stopper, creating a prototype and then testing the design.

In his journal, Brendan wrote,

“I learned a lot of math and science in school, but never had the chance to apply these concepts to real life processes. I enjoy discussing ways to make tangible systems more efficient and sustainable. An added feature of my internship has been the experience of working in a start-up company environment. I am gaining a lot of experience by observing my co-workers in action and watching how decisions are made and problems tackled. I love how the CEO and founders are in the same room as the production workers and engineers.

I was able to sit with the co-founder responsible for marketing who discussed strategies for marketing their products. We talked for about an hour about their evolution and also discussed the difference between working for a big company and starting your own. Now I have come to understand the difficulty of taking the initial risk and am inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and the hard work involved.”

The CEO wrote Brendan’s letter of recommendation:

“Brendan made an immediate impact with our engineering and production team. Despite being only a high school student, he was able to integrate well with engineers and offer insightful ideas. He quickly mastered the production processes and began working on ways to improve them. Brendan got his first taste of engineering by pinpointing problems, designing solutions, prototyping solutions and then fabricating those solutions. He designed methods to make our tile inspection station as automated and comfortable as possible. His insights allowed our full time production workers not only to work more comfortably and sustainably, but also to see new ways of approaching production improvements.

After being immersed in the startup environment Brendan has made it clear that he wishes to start his own company some day. He definitely has a passion for knowledge in many fields and I feel he is excited about combining technology with one of his broad interests, including, music, social sciences, sports, or conservation. I believe Brendan has the entrepreneurial and pioneering drive to make the strongest contribution to any college he applies to.”

Boston Computers & Entrepreneurship Internship

Will is a serial entrepreneur, currently as Co-founder at Recharge in San Francisco and formerly as founder of Cloudy, Eduset and more. As a high school junior at Concord-Carlisle High School, Will already had an impressive resume. He was hired by his school to create their website, worked in programming after school for a local company, and started his own on-line website where DJ’s create play lists for users. Will’s internship objective was to improve his understanding of web technology and media by interning at a web 2.0 company.

After extensive research we were able to establish an internship at a well known start-up matched exactly to Will’s interest in media and music.

“I have been working with the founder as well as their web guru to brainstorm and prototype software that would enhance their software offerings. For instance, I have made a functioning prototype of software that allows employees to quickly add new KeyFeeding sources to the platform. The goal of my work is to demonstrate an early functioning version of software that could be re-coded by engineering and added to the production version, allowing management to assess the value of the potential new feature before committing valuable engineering resources.”

When we visited during the summer, Will proudly showed us that they placed his name on the door of the office where he worked.

When asked what the best part of his internship was, Will wrote,

“The opportunity to work directly with the founder (pictured with Will in the photo) on a daily basis has been phenomenal, and far more access than I had expected. I have also had great experiences with many other employees, all who are willing to help me solve a problem or brainstorm ideas. I have had many discussions where I have actually felt as if I was having a say in the direction the company will take in various areas, something which I would have hardly dreamed of coming into the internship. Separately, I was also able to sit in a few days ago on their quarterly meeting, where they discussed the current situation and future direction of the company, an experience I found extremely valuable, as I look to someday start my own business.”

Will was actually hired to work there after school during his senior year. We are sure that he will enjoy these professional contacts for many years to come.

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