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!
Jennifer Pierre, Law Clerk at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP.
We are so excited to hear that Jennifer will be starting as a law clerk at the prestigious New York law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP. I’ll never forget how impressed I was the first time we met. She was a senior at Buckingham Browne and Nichols, interested in leadership, public speaking and government. Jennifer participated as a senior prefect as well as on the student activities council at BB&N. It was so impressive that she traveled a long distance each day to school by public transportation and held down a part-time job in addition to her heavy course load. Jennifer handled everything with charm and an upbeat attitude. For her high school government internship, we thought that she would enjoy interning at the Massachusetts State House for State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, from her hometown district.
Jennifer’s mentor was Noel, a wonderful young woman of Hispanic origin who held the position of legislative aid. Noel arranged for Jennifer to attend hearings and listen to speakers from the Black Legal Caucus and the Women’s Caucus. She learned about issues pertaining to HIV, government funded programs to support under-served communities and the environmental impact of various state-wide legislation.
Following her internship, Jennifer was accepted to Bryn Mawr (her first choice). She told us that influenced by her high school internship, she became an active member in student government in college and was elected class president.
Jennifer, tell us about your college major and how you decided to go to law school.
I graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science, concentrating in comparative politics. Throughout college, I debated between pursuing a law degree and a degree in public policy. Since I was still unsure about which one to pursue follow graduation, I decided to gain work experience to help me decide.
Following Bryn Mawr, I started work as a paralegal for a corporate law firm in NYC. The work was challenging, but provided a realistic experience at what would be expected of me when I was a lawyer. After two years at the law firm, I wanted to switch fields to understand what it meant to be a lawyer in a non-profit setting. I began work at an international non-profit focused on human rights advocacy. Having gained exposure to law in both the private and public sectors, I moved to Haiti to learn more about the skills a lawyer needed to contribute to a community based organization in Haiti. It was through this experience that I realized that I wanted to pursue a law degree to work with high-level stakeholders to solve issues related to international development and human rights.
As I start my career as a lawyer in a corporate law firm, I hope to gain the skills and proper foundation that will enable me to transition to work at the nexus of international development and human rights.
Did you have additional internships after high school?
After my first taste of interning at the Massachusetts State House, I made it a priority to find an internship following each summer during college. Although it proved challenging, I landed a position with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development as the coordinator for its Ladders for Leaders program. Ladders for Leaders paired NYC high school students with prestigious internships across various sectors. As the coordinator, I was the liaison between program participants and program management. I also wanted to act as a resource for these high school seniors since I had been in their position only one year before. To that end, I organized a presentation and information session on how to best prepare for college. It was also through the Ladders for Leaders internship that I was put in contact with someone who enabled me to acquire my next internship at the US Mission to the United Nations after my sophomore year. While there, I provided support to diplomats working on issues related to nuclear non-proliferation and war crimes.
Finally, following my junior year, I participated in a fellowship at Princeton University that focused on international relations and diplomacy.
Now that you’ve had a great deal of career experience, what would you tell your 16-year-old self?
I’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember. I always imagined that I had to follow a specific path to lead to success. What I’ve learned thus far is that my professional career has not always been linear or what I imagined, but it has always worked out in the end. That being said, I would advise 16-year-old Jennifer to trust the process. If you remain motivated and open to opportunities, continually network and put in maximal effort in every place you work, everything will work out in the end.
Any final advice for our students?
It is never too early to start networking and a LinkedIn account.
So if you’ve ever thought of a high school government internship, just think where it could lead!
Michelle Goldberg, Boston City Council, Director of Legislative Budget Analysis
We first met Michelle when she was a junior in high school and had enjoyed a school trip to Washington, D.C. Because she expressed a desire to learn more about the American political system, we established an internship for her in a Senator’s office at the MA State House. Michelle wrote, “Working for the Senator is fascinating. I’m attending hearings and seminars as well as researching issues and legislation. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity.”
Michelle, it’s been wonderful to keep in touch with you and see that you are the Director of Legislative Budget Analysis at the Boston City Council. Tell us about your position and what you find most enjoyable.
As Director of Legislative Budget Analysis, I manage the City Council’s legislative budget review process. Review and approval of the City budget is a power directly granted to the City Council by the Boston City Charter, and I support the Chair of the Council’s Committee on Ways and Means to coordinate the hearings, analysis, and materials to help the City Councilors review the available information in preparation for their votes.
Outside of Budget Season, I support the 13 councilors in their legislative work, including legal and policy research and the drafting and review of legislation.
I am also a team lead for the Council’s Central Staff Legislative Team, for the Council’s Committees on Environment, Resiliency & Parks; Pilot Reform; Post Audit; Public Health; Public Safety & Criminal Justice; Small Business & Workforce Development; and Strong Women, Families & Communities.
The most enjoyable part of this job is getting to do significant work with so many different people. The issues at hand are different every day, and the context for this work is constantly shifting.
What was your college major? How did you decide to go to law school and then switch to government?
I majored in Psychology at Lehigh University. After graduating I worked at a restaurant while interviewing for jobs in various industries, but never felt that I was finding anything compatible with my skills and interests. After spending time with some of the restaurant’s regulars who worked as attorneys, I realized law school felt like that perfect fit I’d been looking for. I ended up at Boston University School of Law. While there I served as an editor on the Review of Banking and Financial Law, and interned with the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Financial Services through the law school’s Legislative Clinic. While at school and directly after I explored various avenues, with my summer jobs including working for a county probate court, in-house law clerk for a technology firm, research assistant, and summer associate for a law firm. Following graduation, I spent time working for a local consulting firm focused on corporate legal departments, before ending up with the City Council.
I think an underlying theme through much of my educational and career development has been an interest in exploring as many possibilities as I could, but for some reason, legislative work kept calling me back. It capitalizes on my skills and interests, and I love that legislation is like a puzzle, requiring a fit between the nuances of government rules and lived reality.
Tell us about a Career High Point.
I have been very fortunate over the past few years to be able to work with smart and innovative politicians from different walks of life, especially women. Some career high points have been opportunities to work on local legislation with former Councilor now Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, and with two historic mayoral candidates, Councilors Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell.
Did you have additional internships after high school?
I did. I did a marketing internship for the New England Revolution, a market research internship with Intermon Oxfam in Barcelona, a psychiatric research internship at the MGH Center for Addiction Medicine, and a legal research internship with the Future of Music Coalition.
Thinking back, have you had anyone who stands out as a professional mentor and role model?
The managing partner of the consulting firm I worked for after law school was an enormous influence on me. He taught me to question and prove myself, and I am a better worker all around due to his mentorship. I think it is important to find mentors you look up to, can invest in your development in real time, and can challenge you to continue to grow.
A recent article in Edtech Review describes why internships are essential for professional development. Do you agree?
I think that the benefits of experience cannot be overstated. My internships helped me learn things like the importance of getting to a job on time and dressing professionally, as well as how to answer a phone in a workplace and make myself useful. They also allowed me to explore my interests and round out my education with practical, real world experience that I could reference back to when applying for jobs down the line, at a time when I wouldn’t have been otherwise able to obtain the same kind of employment.
Finally, now that you’ve had a great deal of career experience, what would you tell your 16-year-old self?
I would say that it’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do – at any age. The important thing is to just do something. I think that again speaks to the importance of internships in terms of continuing to move yourself forward, even when you’re not totally sure where you’re going to end up……. I’d also tell her to give up the images of running around in high-heeled shoes all day. We’re wearing flats.
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!
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
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.
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.
What happens when your interests run in different directions? You excel at more than just one thing and that’s great. But how about honing in on the academic interest that can turn into a career one day?
Ella ran into this scenario. Together we brainstormed and pinpointed which of her interests could turn into more than a hobby. Social media was her answer. Based on what Ella had accomplished thus far and how she wanted to expand her skill set we matched her with our friends at Her Campus, the #1 media site for college women.
Ella spent her summer internship getting familiar with key influencers on different social media platforms and analyzing their messaging and audience in order to ultimately increase their visibility across the board. We had a chance to regroup with Ella at the end of her time at Her Campus and she let us know that ” I love the work environment. Everyone is very nice, the office is fun and relaxed. I like being in Boston, being able to walk to get lunch and see the city. My favorite part has been hearing from my supervisors about what their job entails, it affirms that I want to work in marketing.” What Ella learned at Her Campus was that marketing, more specifically social media, was something that both interests and challenges her. Two key ingredients for a promising career.
So… which of your many interests do you think could be the right path for you?
Congratulations to Hannah, our former high school intern from Needham High. Years ago, we had placed her at Her Campus Media, the #1 media brand for college women. Coinciding with their 10th birthday this year, they created the Her Campus Hall of Fame to recognize 10 alumnae whose accomplishments are truly outstanding.
“Announcing Inaugural inductee, Hannah Orenstein, Senior Dating Editor, Elite Daily and author (NYU ’15).”
After her high school internship at Her Campus, Hannah became a Her Campus National Writer, Editor and Founder of their High School Ambassador program. Currently, she is the Senior Dating Editor at Elite Daily, as well as the author of two novels: PLAYING WITH MATCHES (2018) and LOVE AT FIRST LIKE (coming August 6, 2019). Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the New York Post, the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, The Cut, Us Weekly, Good Morning America, and more. Previously, she was a writer and editor at Seventeen.com.
Even in high school, we could see that Hannah’s maturity, drive and outstanding abilities would take her far in her career journey.
We met Eshaan when he was a sophomore at Newton South High School. Eshaan had many interests including science. We connected him To Hyungsoo Kim, a graduate of MIT Sloan School, who was developing a watch for the blind and was a semifinalist in the MIT 100k competition. Hyungsoo was happy to hear that high school students were interested in entrepreneurship.
A watch for the blind
Eshaan helped with research and general tasks and wrote a script for the company video. He wrote:
“Many times Hyungsoo, or one of his colleagues would give me an assignment and I would have to figure out what they wanted and deliver it to them. In essence, they gave me a lot of freedom, but at the same time I had lots of responsibility because they would be counting on me to meet their expectations. One of the best parts of my internship was meeting interesting individuals who are all extremely talented and genuine. This internship has been one of the most productive and memorable experiences.”
A Second Internship in San Francisco
Eshaan stayed in touch with his mentor and became passionate about startups. He came to us for a second internship the following summer. Because he had relatives he could stay with in the San Francisco area, we established an internship at Chewse, a startup company that provides office administrators a customized, simple way to get lunch catered for their businesses.
Eshaan was involved in Customer Acquisition and Growth
He gained in-depth exposure to the process of building a business. He said:
“I worked directly with the head of customer acquisition, who gave me interesting long-term projects. I tracked new leads, researched start-up companies, determined who to target and how to target through various media channels. I conducted analysis of both competitors and customer feedback. Often times my mentor would give me a project to complete and I would have to find a way to finish it by coming up with and using my own methods.”
By the end of Eshaan’s junior summer of high school, he had already gained exposure to two very different startup companies. He continues to stay in contact with his mentors and we are certain that he will build upon his high school internships throughout college.