Mentors and Workplaces

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!

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.

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?

 

 

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.

An Inspiring Workplace For Boston’s Entrepreneurial Community

Cartoon Wallpaper, A Swinging Work Table and Free Beer

Does that sound like the sedate office spaces of the past? This past summer, we were welcomed for an on- site visit to We Work, a co-working office space in Boston and site of Travis, our marketing intern.

As we research and contact new businesses for our students’ internships, we are amazed at the exciting opportunities in Boston’s innovative and entrepreneurial culture.

“WeWork is an amazing platform for creators — providing beautiful workspaces and a vibrant, valuable community to freelancers, startups, artists, small businesses and even divisions of large corporations all around the world. Their two Boston buildings are bustling with over 2,000 people who embody an energy that’s off the charts.”

                                                                     -Marlo Fogelman, the CEO of  Marlo Marketing

Stay tuned for our next blog to hear about Travis’ internship!

 

An Inspiring Internship at PayPal’s Boston Headquarters

Are you thinking about a college internship in Boston? What could be more exciting than a summer internship in the ultra modern PayPal headquarters? Harrison, a student at Babson College, told us about his interest of interning at a startup, so we established an internship for him at an exciting company in PayPal’s business incubator, Start Tank, which offers entrepreneurs free office space in downtown Boston, along with seminars and mentorship from PayPal employees.

 

Harrison had a very successful interview on a Friday and went to work immediately on Monday! At Cylent Systems, he interned for the two founders, seasoned entrepreneurs who sold their last company to IBM. Cylent Systems is a high tech startup that delivers automatic real-time disruption of cyber attacks and a 24×7 response service to businesses and organizations.

 

                                                                        Working at PayPal

 

Harrison: “I’ve enjoyed working with my mentors Mike and Jack, as well as all of the other founders at Start Tank. Everyone that I have met has been very friendly and my mentors have acted more like teachers than bosses. To best describe the environment at the Start Tank it would be similar to a giant library with small study groups working on their own projects.

 

I’ve vastly enjoyed the work I have done, which has included researching similar companies’ strategies and creating lists of potential clients to contact. I have also researched competitors. That research included their fundraising, financial statistics, revenue and all demographics. I have been able to sit in on meetings with design partners and clients who will be testing our beta product. I have found the work very meaningful and I have also learned a great deal about computer security and hacking.”

 

                                                                        Lunch with My Bosses

“My favorite part of the internship was being able to go out to lunch everyday with both of my bosses. It has allowed me to get to know both of them on more of a personal level and I have been able to ask questions about starting a business, something that I tentatively plan to do when I’m out of college. It’s also been great because I have been able to try a lot of really great restaurants close to us, and because of that I’m a huge fan of Thai food.”

 

Lessons about Speaking Up

“One time I was sitting in on a meeting with the engineers. I by no means have any kind of knowledge about computers or programming so while I felt a bit timid, I kept asking  questions about the software. This turned out to be helpful because I better grasped the concept of how anti-virus software works and in turn I acted as a potential client where the engineers on the team had the opportunity to explain the software on a less advanced level. I learned that it’s certainly better to ask questions rather than pretending you know the answer.

Startup Internships: Are You Ready To Join One Of These Exciting Companies?

 

What could be more exciting than interning at a really cool company with really bright young employees?

Our students learn about and attend seminars and networking events in the Boston startup community. Pictured are CEO’s on a panel at Harvard Business School, speaking about their experiences building their own companies. The featured speaker that day was Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber.

If you are a fan of Twitter, SnapChat or Vine or watch pitches on Shark Tank, you may have what it takes to join an exciting startup in Boston.

A startup summer internship would give you experience in the tech world, at a business accelerator where early-stage entrepreneurs are supported by a variety of resources and networking events. In these companies, dozens of creative young people build exciting businesses. Everything from Fashion, Sports, Health Care/Life Sciences, Social Impact, Energy/Clean Tech, Education and more.

Internship Connection places dozens of students every summer in exciting startup internships. Fancred, CoachUp, HerCampus, Wayfair, Great Point Energy, Bow and Drape are just a few startups that have taken our students as summer interns. As we follow our students’ careers, several have become founders themselves.

 

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