Mentors and Workplaces

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.

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:

Thinking of Taking a Semester off from College? Want an Experienced Mentor to Guide you on a Remote Internship?

Make this a productive year! Build skills and practical experience by demonstrating your initiative on a project-based internship.

Who are the Mentors Currently Guiding our Students?

  • The CEO of a dynamic startup that was accepted into the 2020 #MassChallenge cohort of 100 companies (from over 1,000 applicants world-wide). She is a former Wharton grad and management consultant.
  • Director of Events and Partner Relationships at a data-driven technology company that is leading a sports research revolution. She was formerly the director of events at the Massachusetts Sports Marketing Office. The company founder is a Harvard MBA, Olympic Gold Medalist and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • The Communications Manager of a National Arts program that educates, inspires, and empowers youth through the arts and in-school performances. With a Masters from Emerson, he has years of experience in creative writing and arts administration.
  • The Director of Development at a non-profit that collaborates with the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families to connect potential adoptive parents with youth waiting for adoption. She has 2 decades of leadership experience at organizations including the United Way and the Ronald McDonald house.

An internship related to your talents and interests will help to confirm a future college major and create professional connections for the future.

How One Student’s Gap Internship Related to both History and Data Analytics

Already accepted to Bentley, and wondering about a college major, Zach decided to take a year off for a bit of experiential learning.  In our meeting with him, he was so passionate about his love of History as well as Analytics. Having taken AP History and AP Calculus in high school, we sought an internship for him where he would understand how these interests could be combined, perhaps leading to a career.

Zach held a part-time job so a local internship sounded appealing to him. By researching and contacting a variety of history organizations, we spoke to an incredibly talented researcher at a local historical society who was happy to take on an intern.

With a background in collections and archives management, Zach’s mentor gained curatorial experience at Harvard’s Mineralogical & Geological Museum. She received her MA in Library and Information Science at Simmons University with a concentration in Cultural Heritage Informatics, and her BA in the History of Art from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. 

Zach’s role related to their antique map collection.  Using a database, he inventoried maps, using descriptive entries that helped the historical society staff make crucial decisions on which maps to keep or send to other organizations.

We love visiting our interns. There are so many interesting organizations and talented mentors in the Boston area. We often feel that we learn as much as our students do!

A Boston STEM Internship for a high school student interested in debate and science

In our school-to-career program, we help students think about their interests, talents and skills and how they can be applied in the workplace. What skills do they already have? What academic areas really excite them? What would be the best businesses or organizations where they could put those skills to work? Whether it’s programming, public speaking, knowledge of social networking channels or artistic talent, an internship is a great way to apply those skills, make professional contacts and “try on a career.”

Over the last two decades we have been privileged to place students and their younger siblings, such as Ahrav, on summer internships. We loved his enthusiasm as he described his passion for debate and began to think how he could apply those skills on an internship.

Research is an important skill students learn by participating on high school Science and Debate Teams. Research is needed in many fields and can be very useful at a startup. We matched Ahrav to two terrific mentors, Turner and Carolyn at Beagle Learning, an Educational Technology startup at the Learnlaunch accelerator in Boston.

In his journal, Ahrav wrote: I really like talking to all the people there, observing how the company operates and working on all the cool projects.”

His responsibilities included:

●  Making/interpreting and coding algorithm to categorize questions

●  Compiling a list of dozens of universities and professors to contact

●  Writing descriptions of how they teach, their goals of teaching to determine if they can potentially use Beagle

●  Finding articles/forums/blogs useful to Beagle for potential professors

●  Talking to Turner and Jeff about how data is compiled and used at Beagle and then seeing programs they use

●  Being part of Beagle meetings/updates

An interesting STEM internship for a very bright young man who loved being on his debate and science teams...nkg.545.myftpupload.com

Mahima’s Pre-College Internship at the Harvard Innovation Lab

Mahima at the Harvard Innovation Lab

Many parents ask us how we establish internships, considering it’s especially difficult to do for high school students. It really requires extensive research, visiting work sites and creating relationships, which we’ve been doing over the last 15 years. Pictured this past summer at the iLab is Mahima, a sophomore at a public high school that is ranked #2 in MA.

 

Dr. Jabbawy visiting the iLab

We Create Relationships in the Workplace

During the school year, especially in the fall, we visit with potential mentors and workplaces in order to identify the best career match for our students’ interests. We look for mentors who can assign specific tasks and projects for each student to work on. Many mentors have been interns themselves at some point in their career and are happy to mentor a student with shared interests.

After Dr. Jabbawy attended a startup pitch at the iLab in order to identify potential mentors for summer internships, we met a very personable CEO who was very open to the idea of hosting an intern.

Sean Eldrige, CEO of Gain Life

Sean Eldridge: Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer of Gain Life

With an MBA from Harvard Business School, Sean spent his 15-year career in the health behavior change space at Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Weight Watchers. He co-founded Gain Life that provides solutions in the employer wellness market.

In Mahima’s letter of recommendation, Sean wrote:

“Mahima worked for our Harvard Innovation Labs startup, Gain Life, during the 2019 summer. While reporting to me, Gain Life’s CEO, Mahima led a variety of projects where she:

  • Researched and synthesized state-specific insurance regulations
  • Edited privacy and terms and conditions documents for a new product
  • Sourced and conducted consumer research interviews
  • Found and reported bugs in native and web-based applications
  • Built a research presentation for a large, blue chip, company

My team and I found Mahima to be friendly, diligent, and capable of delivering quality work with little direction. Mahima is mature beyond her years. I’d gladly offer her another position with our company at a later date. I happily recommend Mahima without hesitation.”

Startup Case Study: A Boston Internship for Camila and Claudia from Puerto Rico

 

The Introduction

It was so interesting to Skype with Camila and Claudia Gonzalez and their parents. The family had been referred to the Internship Connection Program for Entrepreneurship by Babson College. The girls are twin sisters, coming from a private school in Guaynabo, P.R., who had been accepted to Babson as January freshman. “J-frosh” is the term that students often use.

Starting college during spring semester is quite common at many universities across the U.S. The reason behind this is that colleges would like to accept many more qualified students, but cannot accommodate them because of insufficient housing. Additional dorm rooms become available when juniors go abroad during their spring semester.

I have often worked with January freshman, establishing Boston internships for them for the fall semester. Not only can they enjoy an internship matched to their intended academic majors, but they are able to get a jump start on their peers, becoming familiar with the city, it’s transportation system, restaurants and cultural highlights.

The process begins: Housing

Once I knew that the girls wanted to live and work together, I starting researching housing for them that would be comfortable and close to transportation.  Additionally, I wanted to find a mentor who would take a true personal interest in the girls. Coming to the U.S. to a new city at age 17, is not something to take lightly. As director of this program, I feel deeply that my role is not only to provide the best educational experience but to be protective of our students as well.

Placing students in our program is much more complicated than many people realize. I must consider their career interests, their safety, their mode of transportation, their schedules, etc. For the girls and their parents, I emailed photos from several types of housing options. They chose an upscale, short-term stay hotel in Copley Square. It would be just a quick subway ride for them to the Boston Waterfront where over 150 start-up companies would likely be the most interesting and exciting internship sites for the girls.

Choosing the best company and mentor

During my research and drawing from our program’s large network of business connections, I focused on the girls’ interest in both entrepreneurship and fashion. In the past, I’ve placed many students at MassChallenge, an annual global accelerator program and startup competition that provides free office space for finalists and organizes training and networking events. It’s a competetion that awards 1 million dollars to finalist companies selected from 1,250 applications world-wide.

One company at the MassChallenge business incubator really stood out to me. Melanie Berger is the founder and CEO of Mariwear, a new and innovative concept in women’s loungewear. She is a dynamic businesswoman who is also a mom. In our conversations, I learned that she had lived abroad and grasped how important her role would be as mentor for Camilla and Claudia. While discussing the kinds of tasks that she would have for them in her fashion start-up, I could see that they would be involved in every level of her business. We were both excited for the girls’ arrival.

The internship proceeds

 

As the fall progressed, Camilla and Claudia sent me journals detailing their experiences and expressed how thrilled they were with their mentor and their fashion internships. As a former professor of education, I know how crucial it is for students to take a step back to reflect upon their experiences. Therefore, the students are asked to send me several journals that I have designed, with questions that are meant to encourage reflection.

 

An excerpt from Camilla’s journal

 

What has been the best part of your internship?

The best part of the internship has been working with Melanie. She has been a great mentor and example because not only has she helped me grow as a future entrepreneur, but also she has helped me understand the importance of fighting for your goals even though there will be a lot of ups and downs.

She has really made us feel part of not only Mariwear, but also the MassChallenge community by introducing us to the other companies that we were interested in, or in some way, contribute to our future. I feel that every moment in MassChallenge has been a positive, since I am constantly meeting new people, making suggestions, asking questions, and learning something new.

A note from the CEO Melanie

It’s been such a pleasure for me to get to know Camilla and Claudia and Melanie, their mentor, feels the same way. She recently wrote:

Hi Carole,

Hope all is well.  I have to say, I am seriously sad that the girls are gone.

It was beyond an amazing experience for all of us.  They were wonderful on so many levels.  I can’t imagine having anyone else who can fill their shoes.

Melanie Berger

Founder

We wish Camilla and Claudia all the best as they start their freshman semester this January at Babson College!

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.

Ten Questions to Ask When Interviewing your Workplace Mentor

In our School-to-Career program, we encourage our students to interview a key person at work. Students tell us that this experience is one of the highlights of their summer experience. Whether you are on an internship or just starting your first job, interviewing a mentor can be a very beneficial exercise.

                                    How do you define success?

              What are 3 characteristics you think are necessary for success?

We have found that the answer to these questions lead to the biggest surprises.  Students are surprised to learn that rather than mentioning monetary success, mentors often speak about  success in terms of their volunteer work in the community or their family life at home.

10 questions that our students have found helpful when interviewing their mentors:

1. How did you decide to work in this field?

 

2. What or who influenced you in this career direction?

 

3. Does your work require special training? If so, what kind and how much?

 

4. Is this your first and only career? If not, what else have you done?

 

5. How do you define success? What are 3 characteristics you think are necessary for success?

 

6. Tell me about a career high point and a career low point.

 

7. Do you have any advice for someone interested in this field?

 

8. What course of study do you recommend in college?

 

9. Do you have any professional role models?

 

10. What changes do you foresee happening in this profession?

 

 

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