Mentors and Workplaces

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.

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!”

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.”

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