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Hired! Tal’s Meaningful Gap Year Internship

Ta'ls Gap Year Internship
Tal (on right) with Greg, the Founder of Inclusive Fitness

What a Gap Year! Tal is one of the most endearing students that we’ve ever had in our program. Reluctant at first to apply to college, Tal decided to seek a Gap Year internship. Not only did he ace his internship interview, he was beloved by his workplace mentor, staff, students and was HIRED! Tal found his inspiration, was accepted to college, and now knows what his major and career will be…..

This is Tal’s Story

When we first meet with students, we listen very carefully. Sometimes “reading between the lines” allows us to discover a hidden spark of interest that has the potential for enormous personal growth. That was exactly what happened with Tal.

As a high school graduate with a fantastic personality, Tal was a self-starter, already gaining practical experience working in a restaurant and gas station. A serious athlete into fitness and mountain biking, he ran track and cross country.

As we spoke, I was surprised by Tal’s response to one question. “What was the best experience you had in high school?”

Unlike other students’ responses, Tal didn’t mention debate, winning a tournament or acing his SAT’s. He spoke about working with a younger student who had special needs, helping him with his speech, even taking him for ice cream and miniature golf. Tal’s unexpected response was touching and reminded us of a recent article about Inclusive Fitness, the first gym dedicated to providing an inclusive environment for neurodiverse athletes of all abilities, including those with autism and Downs Syndrome. The center was founded by Greg and Kristina Austin, loving parents to Lucas, who is autistic. They saw first-hand, how exercise helped Lucas become more focused, relaxed, confident, active and able to do physical things with more ease. Not only is Greg a sought after trainer, he holds a BA in Psychology, MBA and advanced studies in neuroscience, making him the perfect mentor for Tal, who took on many responsibilities at the center.

Greg’s impression of Tal

Tal is absolutely fantastic! He jumps into anything and gets the job done. He’s always willing to try new things. He’s a pleasure to work with. Tal seems to have a natural talent for coaching and working with our unique and wonderful athletes. He’s starting to work toward his personal training certification and may explore getting certified to work with special needs athletes, as all of our coaches here are. We’re grateful that Tal is part of IF and love having him here. Thanks for connecting us!

After just a short time on his internship, Tal was officially hired as an employee. Loving his work there and inspired by the students and adults he worked with, Tal applied to college to continue on a professional path to work as an athletic trainer for neurodiverse people. Greg wrote a superb letter of recommendation, and Tal was accepted with a scholarship to Regis College. Ever the athlete, Tal plans to major in Exercise Science with a minor in Special Education. Not only will he run Cross Country and Track, he will be studying for his certification both as a Professional Trainer and Autism Fitness Instructor.

Not every student experiences a direct path to college. Career exposure can be an important step for personal growth as a student begins their college and career journey.

Stephanie: An Outstanding Fashion Mentor

We love connecting students to outstanding role models in their field of interest! Stephanie Munoz, an outstanding fashion designer in Boston, was recently honored as a fashion entrepreneur and Creative Director for Mpoze Fashion.

Abigail, a talented junior and honors student at Wellelsley High, was inspired by her advertising and marketing class. Skilled in Social Media and Film/Photo editing, she loved the idea of entrepreneurship and the business side of fashion.

Stephanie was starting a new fashion line and told us that she would love to have Abigail get involved from the “ground up.”

In her journal Abigail wrote:

Some tasks I have are managing the social medial for Stephanie’s new brand. She is launching a new clothing line so we created an Instagram account specifically for it. Last week I also went to her photo shoot for the clothing line and was responsible for filming and putting the behind the scene footage on the Instagram. Currently, we are creating a marketing plan for the brand that we will then implement on social media leading up to her launch date in September. We have started coming up with some slogans and tag-lines for the brand. She is also releasing some more lines later in the summer that we will also be creating marketing plans for.

Stephanie was so impressed with Abigail:

Abigail did such an incredible job with the marketing portion of the company’s lounge wear launch.  She was efficient and was great at executing all the required tasks. We dove into learning about marketing and branding, as well as utilizing social media platforms. I had her practice product outsourcing, developing social media templates (used for marketing) researching and building our demographic bios.  This was such a great experience for her and myself as well. She has shown interest in wanting to continue seeing the growth and success of the lounge wear which is amazing!”

As teachers and counselors, it’s so rewarding to provide the opportunity for a student that helps them gain exposure to a future career.

Thinking of a 2022 Summer Internship?

We are speaking to many students who are contacting us now that Thanksgiving break is here. Christmas vacation is also a great time to talk to us about your interests. Read what a very special “alumni” family recently told us as they moved their son into the Dartmouth College dormitory:

Dear Carole,
We hope your summer has been relaxing! We are very grateful for your help in getting a very special internship for Ahrav during high school. He built upon his learning in STEM at Beagle Learning located in the LearnLaunch Accelerator in Boston, furthering his confidence and experiences. Ahrav is attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. We just moved him into his dorm this past weekend. The town was full of energy and vibrancy!

This past school year has been very difficult for all and especially high school students who have limited summers to maximize opportunities and internships. But I’m sure with your program, students are in good hands. Carole, thank you for all the support.

A caring Woman Founder and Internship Mentor at the Harvard Innovation Lab

Meet Lisa who was just featured in Harvard’s “Women-Led Wednesdays: Leadership Lessons and Venture Turning Points

Lisa Z. became a mentor for our student Avi, whose college major is computer science. Lisa, from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is Founder and CEO of Helthy, an app that makes real-time recommendations for people with diabetes as they shop for groceries online.

Read about her approach to leadership and learn how her venture has grown in the Women-Led Wednesdays interview:

Lisa, whose mother has Type 2 diabetes, was inspired to start her venture by a desire to make it easy for family members to choose the right foods to eat. It all started during Lisa’s IDEP (Independent Design Engineering Project) as part of Harvard’s Master’s in Design Engineering program (MDE) where she got to explore root problems in the diabetes space.

After participating in the Harvard Innovation Labs Venture Program this past year, Helthy is focused on product development and building new partnerships. Their product is now compatible with Whole Foods, Walmart, Instacart, Krogers, and H-E-B, Zhu says. This means they are able to provide simple visual cues that overlay on grocery store product pages for users to know which products fit within their healthy eating guidelines.

How has your venture grown in unexpected ways?

“It’s been interesting the way we’ve grown our team. We had some trials and errors and big learnings with regard to figuring out who would be the right fit for this venture. Right now we’re a team of five. We’re very lean, and everyone is exceptional in their domain. We have a great group who believes in this venture and who all want to make a social impact. I feel lucky to work with genuine and kind people, and I’m so proud of our team.”

How would you describe your leadership path as a (woman) entrepreneur?

“As a trained architect and designer, I learn through doing and building. This is also how I lead as a woman entrepreneur. Focus is key. I stay focused on hyper-empathy and care towards my customers and users, for example, and on a genuine belief in the product and the company. I stay focused on my drive to make Helthy a success… I also ask for help because there is a lot that I still don’t know yet. I rely on my team, they rely on me, and we have amazing advisors. My advisors from the Harvard Innovation Labs give me tremendous guidance and support. Staying thankful is part of my leadership path!”

Summer/Fall 2021. What are our Students Excited About?

Our students are excited about:

Coding for a Harvard startup relating to healthcare/diabetes

Working with collections, vendors and content generation for a Boston fashion designer

Helping neurodiverse people and their families create healthy lifestyles through fitness

Learning about the film industry from the founder of a casting agency

Interning in government for their State Representative at the MA State House

Working for the CEO of India’s first leadership incubator that focuses on the professional development of Muslim Women.

Using their skills for a social media/marketing campaign to launch a new fashion collection

It’s so rewarding to establish internships for our students with such accomplished career mentors.

Calling all TikTok and Instagramers!

A fabulous internship opportunity just came up at a startup in the MOST prestigious startup incubator in Boston.

If you’re a high school or college student and love startups, marketing, and social media……

Here’s the CEO’s description:

We’re looking for an intern that’s really into internet culture – they’re the ones that their friends turn to for TikTok trends, for what music to listen to, who to follow on social media. we’d be looking for someone to lead the social media presence (discord, twitter, instagram, tiktok).

We’re a fun team that’s building tech that’s already impacting thousands of people’s lives. It’s where a lot of young people “retreat” to when they want to be creative and when social media feels like too much. You’ll be helping build out our community & get early access to new product features to test out.

This is a remote position, and we can offer a flexible schedule.

contact: carole@internshipconnection.com

6 Tips When Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

SAMPLE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION FROM OUR WORKPLACE MENTORS

Colleges are interested in students who seek out experiences related to their academic interests and talents. Most colleges accept up to three letters of recommendation- from a teacher, guidance counselor and one additional letter from another adult such as a coach. Including a letter from a workplace mentor shows that the student has sought out this type of experience and has excelled.

In our school-to-career program, we help students as they ask their mentors for these letters. Whether on a job or internship, asking for a letter of recommendation is one of the most stressful, but important tasks. Students in our program tell us that they use their letters for many years to come, as they apply for jobs and internships in college.

Asking for a Letter of Recommendation….Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Ask your immediate supervisor, the person who you are working directly under.

2. Don’t wait until the end of your internship. Two weeks before your end date would give your mentor enough time.

3. Ask if you could possibly get the letter on your last day but have a stamped, self-addressed envelope ready to give them in case they need more time.

4. Hand them a written request. This will make it much easier for your mentor.

Your written request should look something like this

I have learned so much working here. If possible, I would appreciate a letter of recommendation on your company letterhead for my files. I will be using this letter for college and work applications.

My email is:
My mailing address is:

I would appreciate a hard, signed copy as well as a digital signed copy.

It should be addressed as: To Whom It may Concern

Since colleges are particularly interested in my academic interests, I have described them below. If possible, I wondered if you might mention them and how they related to the internship.

 My academic interests are:

I have also bulleted a list of tasks and activities that I participated in on this job:

Thank you for taking the time to mentor me on my internship.

-Your name

5. Don’t pester your mentor if you haven’t received the letter. Wait 1 month and only ask them one more time.

6. After you receive your letter of recommendation, send a hand-written thank you note.

 

 

Lessons Learned from Remote Internships

We loved working with Caroline Tsui, currently a senior at Carleton College, majoring in both English and Studio Art. Caroline told us that she especially enjoyed creative writing, so last summer, we actually established two summer remote internships that related directly to her interests. The following is a wonderful essay that Caroline wrote about her remote internships.

Lessons Learned from Remote Internships by Caroline Tsui

As a senior at Carleton College double majoring in English and studio art, I especially enjoy creative writing. With the help of Boston-based InternshipConnection, I was fortunate enough to have two remote internships this past summer.

My first internship was with Young Audiences of Massachusetts (YAMA), an organization that connects artists to communities (schools, libraries, etc.) so that the artists can give enriching performances to the children of those communities. In helping YAMA out with various projects––entering their artists into an online library database, combing through videos of those artists’ performances for screenshots that might be useful for advertising, compiling testimonials––I learned that even if I didn’t feel qualified to do those things 100% “correctly”, that didn’t mean I couldn’t do them. I also learned that even though the internship was remote, that I could still take on tasks that were learning experiences for me and meaningful for the organization I was working with.

I also participated in weekly staff meetings (over Zoom, of course). Getting to know the staff members who attended was eye-opening––it provided a window into the organizational side of the art world, which I had never thought that much about before. As an aspiring creative, I’ve worried sometimes (often) about what I’ll do if I don’t “make it” as a full-time writer, graphic novelist, etc. Would I be happy “settling” for a job tangential to those professions in some way? But the people working at YAMA didn’t feel like they were settling, and many of them have creative hobbies that they engage in when they’re not at work. They care about the children in the communities they serve! They’re deeply invested in their work. They’ve shown me that it’s very much possible to exist as a creative without that being one’s entire career, and for that I am deeply grateful. And while it took a little longer to feel I was getting to know them, I did feel like I had made meaningful connections by Zoom and phone – and I was able to reach out and ask for help when I needed to, and it felt easier and easier to do that as the summer wore on and as I got to know people better.

In addition to my work with YAMA, I took on a smaller internship later in the summer with the Founder of Awayte, a pet-related start up. I’m deeply grateful for the skills I learned there by writing several articles for their newsletter each month––it taught me how to complete a small writing project by myself in advance of a given deadline (turns out researching and outlining takes at least as long as writing the actual article). It was a totally different experience from writing an essay for a college class, both because I was writing for an audience larger than just my professor, and because I was doing so for an actual purpose, to accomplish something in the real world, Again, I wondered how it would feel to take this work on remotely, but it was fine. I was nervous when I wrote my first newsletter, but that would have been the case in person or working remotely. Once I got through the first one I was able to just correspond by email or phone or Zoom, and I felt like I got the direction I needed and was able to complete my assignments.

I’m equally grateful for the opportunity this internship gave me to meet the founder of this start up. Not only was she a very sweet person who really cared about her pets (and pets in general), she also reminded me a bit of myself, in that she was very much not Type A. I’d always assumed that naturally organized people were the only ones who could/should start their own business, and therefore that that entire career path was out for me. But now that I’ve met her, it’s started to feel like a possibility. I also feel that watching her process has given me a better sense of what that path would be like––or at least of some of the specific requirements to get a business off the ground (working weekends, making a website, starting a newsletter, etc.).

I’m pretty sure nobody reading this will argue with me when I say that 2020 was a weird year. The summer of 2020 was a weird summer. It was not the summer that I was expecting or planning to have––but it was still a good summer. In prior summers, I’ve worked retail or worked in various summer camps, and these were my first experiences in a more professional environment, and I felt that I was able to learn quite a bit, even working remotely.

High School Internships in Boston- Standing Out in a Test Optional World

It’s spring 2021 and you’re a high school junior thinking about college applications.

Here’s the dilemma:

  • SAT and ACT tests are now optional at 700 colleges including Harvard, Princeton and Stanford.  
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, admissions officers spend 8 minutes or less reading an application.
  • Less than 2% of high school athletes get in as D1 athletic recruits and most college sports are now canceled due to Covid.

So, how can you stand out on your college applications?

This is attainable by thinking outside of the normal extra-curricula activities and at the same time, building on your academic strengths. Colleges seek out students whose interests and talents will contribute to both academic and college life on their campuses. This is quite apparent by the typical application question, “What are your interests and how will you pursue them on our campus?”

A project-based remote or in-person internship, specifically designed to relate to your academic interests, your talents, your passions will convey something unique. How many high school students can say that they’ve attended legislative hearings for a State Senator, worked in the lab at a Cambridge biotech startup, or helped design costumes for a professional theater company? A structured, project-based remote/virtual internship can also provide the same opportunity to work with a mentor in a student’s chosen field.

In our experiential school-to-career program, we always begin by asking our students- What experiences have you had in school or out of school that were really exciting or meaningful?  Let’s explore them in-depth through a structured, educational internship supervised by a carefully chosen workplace mentor.

Students often talk about their internship experiences during interviews and in college essays. In addition, a letter of recommendation from your mentor discussing how your academic interests related to the internship can be an impressive addition to your application. Not only will your internship set you apart on college applications but even more importantly, the experience will help you gain the confidence and life skills needed for college and beyond.

Where are They Now? The Spiro Brothers

Product Managers at Two of Boston’s Top Companies.

It’s been so rewarding to hear from Internship Connection alumni. Discover how a high school marketing internship and a high school graphic design internship jump-started Mike and Will’s careers. We will be forever grateful to the wonderful mentors who have taken the time to advise the students in our school-to-career program.

Mike (pictured on the right) is currently the Senior Product Manager of Digital at Vistaprint. In high school, because he was interested in marketing, we established an internship for him with David Richard, Emerson College professor and CEO of Big Fish Communications.

Will (on the left) is the Product Manager of the CMS Developer Platform at HubSpot. When Will was in high school, he enjoyed graphic design and business, so we connected him to Rick Sands, the CEO of the Fenway Group.

Mike and Will, What would you say were your biggest takeaways from that initial high school internship?

  • Will: Learning what it took and meant to work as part of a larger team was incredibly valuable. Being part of something larger than yourself, and contributing to a shared mission helped me learn how business works, and how solving for the customer is the result of many moving parts and people.
  • Mike: I learned that there were no rubrics or study guides to help me succeed in the business world. There was no teacher to say, “this will be on the test”. If Big Fish’s customers could have found the solutions to their problems in textbooks, they wouldn’t have become customers.

Tell us where you went to college.

  • Will: I went to the University of Vermont, and studied Business and Environmental Studies… and Skiing 😉
  • Mike: I graduated from UMass Amherst. My major was Marketing, but my favorite learning experiences came from my Psych minor and the less conventional classes I took (e.g. Astronomy, Chinese Mythology). I also loved my job as a co-manager at Campus Design & Copy, one of the school’s student run co-ops. It unexpectedly ended up being the biggest factor in landing my job at Vistaprint!

Did you have additional internships after high school? 

  • Will: I interned for a Marketing Agency in college, New Breed Marketing, where I was first exposed to HubSpot (my current employer). This internship is what landed me a job at HubSpot, and exposed me to the industry I have now been working in for 5 years.
  • Mike: I had internships with Kraft Sports Group (Patriots / Revolution / Gillette Stadium), Vibram, and Covidien. They were three very different experiences and taught me a lot about what I liked and didn’t like. Even though it wasn’t glamorous, the story of what I learned from taking a turn as Slyde the Fox (the mascot for the Revolution) made for great conversations during future interviews!

Tell us briefly about your career paths.

  • Will: I started at HubSpot in their entry level role, customer support. I quickly saw a knowledge gap in that web developers needed help building websites and app, but support did not have that skill set. I taught myself to write code and proposed to the director of the support department that I focus on support for developers. I created many resources for developers to scale supporting web development. Through my work in support, I build connections with leaders in the Product org who work on the developer platform, which led to a natural transition into being a product manager working on developer tools.
  • Mike: It’s eerily similar to Will’s! I started off as the fourth member of a new team at Vistaprint focused on customer service strategy. This meant that I got to work on challenging and interesting greenfield problems, including launching design services products. I loved working with a cross-functional team of engineers, designers, analysts, and operations that could take an idea all the way to a tangible experience on the website, which was a job that I didn’t know existed beforehand. I then got the opportunity to expand on this product management scope by switching over to the arm of the company that owns the digital marketing subscription products.

Any mentors or professional role models? …and what they’ve meant to you. 

  • Will: A boss of mine at HubSpot, and VP of Product, helped me a great deal in getting to where I am today in my career. She saw my desire to solve for the customer, and helped me find a pathway to product management. Her mentorship has meant the world to me, and I still learn something new every time I speak to her.
  • Mike: My first boss at Vistaprint was amazing. She instilled in me the importance of customer empathy, which will be invaluable for the rest of my career regardless of where I end up. She also helped me understand that a product is much more than something that is sold – it’s something that is experienced. To build a successfully product, you need to consider a customer’s end-to-end journey with it. My biggest professional role model is our mom though. She’ll be embarrassed to learn that we’re talking about her here (sorry, Mom!), but her career became being a single parent, which is harder than any job Will or I will ever have.

Now that you’ve had a great deal of career experience, what would you tell your 16-year-old self? 

  • Will: Focusing on trying different disciplines and not worry about how much money you are making. Loving every day of your work is far more important than money, and money will come when you love your work.
  • Mike: Stop stressing about your grades and getting into a “good” college. My GPA and SAT scores have meant less in life than I ever could have imagined. Just focus on learning and challenging yourself and good things will follow.

Any final advice for our students?

  • Will: Even if you do not have the highest paying job off the bat, working for a company or mission you believe in might lead you to greater success in the longer term. Both your happiness and drive to succeed at work have a huge impact on your personal life and career.
  • Mike: Don’t pick your classes – pick your teachers. Don’t pick your job – pick your boss.

Such interesting insights from two very impressive young men!

Boston Startup Internship- Shark Tank Lessons You’ll Learn

Are you a Shark Tank fan? Love entrepreneurship? Why not experience a Boston startup internship?

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 Elon Musk started Tesla? 

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 startup internships for the last 14 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 Internship Connection business mentors will give you a rarified glimpse into this exceptional community of entrepreneurs:

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