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:
Luca, a junior at Framingham High, is interested in sports management and business. Luca had started an online clothing business and part of the proceeds were donated to veterans. Through our contacts in the Boston startup community, we created an internship for Luca with Alex Stone, a graduate of Swampscott High and the Founder and CEO of Athletes of Valor. AOV is a platform designed to help veterans transition from service to career by leveraging the power of collegiate sports. Alex’s venture based startup was the 50k gold winner of MassChallenge’s Social Impact category. We felt that Luca’s ideas and Alex’s mission were closely aligned and Luca helped out with the merchandising aspect of the business.
For an additional experience, we arranged a visit to WeWork South Station where Luca met with a UX designer for a startup in the game development space. They discussed Luca’s website and marketing ideas. We were happy to expose Luca to a variety of startup environments.
Finally, we were thrilled to hear that recently CoachUp acquired Athletes of Valor, with Alex now serving as Chief Operating Officer of CoachUp. Coach Up had provided a wonderful internship for one of our students a few years ago. The following is a news article about Alex. We are very grateful for the interest he took in one of our students.
Nicole with Asad Butt, the Director of LearnLaunch
With an interest in business, we placed Nicole on a High School Internship followed by a College Internship.
Now that she completed her freshman year of college, we thought that she should gain exposure to what’s very current and exciting in the business world these days. Now that the concept of business startups has matured years beyond companies such as Facebook and Twitter, the business accelerator programs that foster these young companies are expanding rapidly on college campuses and cities around the world. One startup incubator in Boston is quite unique, its mission to help early-stage education technology companies bring their promising technology solutions successfully to market.
LearnLaunch provides seed funding, office space and mentorship for entrepreneurs who have been selected for their innovative ideas related to education technology. The culmination of their three-month program is the final presentation (Demo Day) to hundreds of angel investors and venture capitalists.
Words From Nicole’s Journal
In her journal, Nicole tells us what’s she’s been up to on her internship:
Conducted cohort interviews with the CEO’s about the program
Took notes from Cohort Pitches to Angel Investors
Created teacher and tech surveys, questionnaires, activities and flyer for Hackathon Event
Researched Edtech newsletters for relevant information
Organized Edtech Investments, company’s leads, contact list and cohort calendar
What has been the best part of your internship?
The best part of my internship has been doing work to prepare for all the events happening at LearnLaunchX, actually working at the events and meeting such a wide variety of business leaders and investors.
Can you describe a situation when you had to be a bit courageous during your internship?
After Demo Day, my boss wanted me to collect the cohort’s feedback about the event, as well as conduct interviews with them about their overall experience at LearnLaunchX. Since I didn’t know the participants very well yet, I was a little uncomfortable asking for their feedback about Demo Day. In addition, I had to create questions to ask the CEOs of each company about their thoughts on the program. I had never done anything like this before and I wasn’t sure what kind of questions to ask them because I didn’t know much about the program, but in spite of my reservations, it all went very smoothly.
Matt, a junior at Lexington Christian Academy was interested in business, and through our contacts with the Harvard Innovation Lab, we established an internship with the winner of Harvard’s Innovation Challenge. This startup, located in Cambridge, MA provides customers with the ability to search, from all electronic devices, hundreds of daily deals sites in order to save more and get deeper discounts.
Matt worked directly under the CEO and his role involved research, marketing, advertising and brainstorming creative pitch ideas. He told us that the highlight of the summer was the chance to set up a booth in Harvard Square to pitch the company. His boss told him that he was responsible for coming up with the entire plan including hiring people for the promotion as well as creating the marketing materials. While as first a bit overwhelmed, Matt quickly rose to the challenge and executed a highly successful event. Matt enjoyed the camaraderie of the team and felt that he made long lasting connections for the future.
It was wonderful to discover that Neeraj went on to UCLA after high school and interned at Goldman Sachs last summer, as an investment banking analyst.
So how did Neeraj’s journey in finance begin? When he was at Princeton Day School, in our initial conversation with him, Neeraj told us that his cousins in San Francisco were involved in investment banking. He thought that he might like to have an internship in finance to gain early exposure to the field.
Why he chose to intern for a startup company instead of a financial firm?
We encouraged Neeraj to shift his focus from a financial firm for the time being. We explained that for someone who was age 16, a better idea might be to intern for a startup company, where he would actually be able to be delve into real work, and at the same time, see how businesses get started and funded.
Internships must be educational
We often hear from many parents who tell us that the summer before they contact us, their child interned for a relative or friend of the parents at either a law or financial firm, to their dissatisfaction. The students usually end up filing and photocopying and often get turned off from their experiences. My philosophy at Internship Connection is to make sure, when contacting a potential workplace mentor, that the student will be involved in a variety of tasks and meaningful work. The experience must be educational.
He learned about the financial aspects of running a startup and how to raise money
After researching potential businesses, we connected Neeraj to Privy. A startup funded by investors for over five million dollars, the company offers a local online marketing platform for businesses. Privy’s focus is to make it easy for local merchants to offer in-store promotions on the web that customers can redeem at their locations with their mobile phones, allowing local businesses to enhance local visibility and better target deals to consumers.
We thought that Neeraj, since his family owned a small business, would really be able to understand Privy’s mission and contribute his own ideas. In addition, he could learn about the financial aspects of running a startup and how the founders raise money.
Jake Cohen, Director of Strategy took Neeraj under his wing, providing thoughtful and challenging tasks.
Words from Neeraj’s journal
Question: List the kinds of things that you’ve been doing at work.
- Providing Research Analysis on different Venture Capitals and Startup Mentors in a spreadsheet format
- Attending and participating in and out of office meetings with different people and companies
- Providing insight and suggestions on the Privy Database through examination of the Dashboard
- Participating in company calls
- Participating in Privy Dashboard analysis
- Learning new marketing skills and concepts through real-world situations with Jake.
Question: What has been the best part of your internship?
With many great parts about my internship, the best part is gaining real-world experience while participating in meetings with clients and partners. By sitting in and participating in these meetings, not only am I receiving new marketing knowledge and experience with dealing in people to people situations, but also these meetings have provided me with a new perspective on the inner workings of a company’s growth. Seeing Privy grow daily as a startup has truly been a great part of my internship with both myself and Jake happy with company progress as the weeks go by.
Question: Can you describe a situation during your internship in which you took a risk by putting yourself in a new position, such as meeting new people, asking questions, making suggestions? Write a paragraph or two about this situation explaining how it made you feel and what you learned about yourself as a result.
During the second week of my internship, I was asked by my boss to provide analysis for the new Privy dashboard for merchants and small business owners. By simulating myself as a small business owner, I was able to step into the shoes of the client, a pivotal part of the development of a company, and my primary job was to provide advice and suggestions for the dashboard to make it user-friendly for clients.
Knowing well that by providing valid and beneficial suggestions would boost my reputation as a good intern while helping the company, I was faced with thinking on my feet with pressure to provide good advice. As the simulation continued however, I realized that by focusing on simulating an SMB owner and by focusing on the task at hand without emotional or mental constraint, I was able to provide sound advice without overthinking the situation. The result was positive with some of my advice actually helping and being implemented in the newer edition of the dashboard providing me with some confidence. As a result of this, I started trusting myself and my ideas more as the internship has continued.
A note from Neeraj’s mother, Sudha Devulapalli
It was a pleasure talking to you this morning. No amount of words and gratitude is enough for the role you have played in inspiring Neeraj. I really appreciate your valuable suggestion about incorporating Neeraj’s internship experience in to his college essays. I think it is a great idea and will add a lot of value to his essay and application.
Before she graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Lauren was a junior at Newton North High School where she was co-editor of the school’s newspaper. In order to be most effective for her role senior year, she wanted to gain exposure to newspaper editorial and marketing.
We matched to a Boston business journal and she wrote,
“Everything is going very smoothly. I feel very grown up driving into Boston and working in the Herald Media offices. I enjoy working with the publisher, editor and sales director. They are all very nice to me and I feel comfortable asking them questions. I wear a Herald badge and I’m treated with respect. This summer at Women’s Business is certainly different from the rest. I’m learning that organization is the key to success because journalism is very personal. From interviewing to phone calls, one must present oneself in an orderly manner and have a systematic approach.”
Publisher Vicki Donlan wrote Lauren’s letter of recommendation.
“Lauren was asked to write a spotlight article on three prominent women CEO’s and their business transitions. She did the interviews, developed the questions and wrote the article. Lauren’s writing skills are excellent and she was a great team player. She understood that the newspaper business has a large variety of necessary tasks and was willing to work wherever needed to get the job done. It was great having an energetic, young woman in the office.”
Will, a junior at Newton North high School, is very artistic and had taken graphic design and visual communication courses in high school. His goal was to gain exposure to the field in order to determine what type of college program he would be applying to. We matched Will to a comprehensive cross-media design firm in Boston that provides visual marketing solutions for web, print, digital and mobile. Will was encouraged to create logos and participate in all aspects of their business.
In addition, Dr. Jabbawy also arranged a one-time visit for Will to a national Brand Design firm. This company serves clients from Fortune 500 corporations, including Kodak and Nantucket Nectars. Both the Creative and Art Director were impressed Will’s portfolio and were happy to answer his questions about college. They talked about their own career paths, the importance of studying typography and the difference between majoring in graphic design at an art school vs. a university.
With both experiences fresh in his mind, Will now has a practical understanding of the field of graphic design.
As a sophomore at Choate Rosemary Hall, Jackie was interested in startups and technology. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, she had moved to Boston from Silicon Valley and was seeking a meaningful summer internship. We connected Jackie to Cashtivity, whose office was located in an exciting startup accelerator in Boston’s Innovation District. Cashtivity is a technology and data driven company, producing learning products based on challenges to enliven the entrepreneurial spirit and skills of K-12 students.
Continue reading “Jackie’s Startup Internship on the Boston Waterfront”
Travis was a recent graduate of Phillips Academy Andover who was looking forward to starting Brown University after completing a Gap Year. He was looking for a summer experience related to engineering, computers and investments.
We combined Travis’s interests by placing him at Privy, a startup that has developed a unique email list growth platform for retail marketers. The office is located in the exciting co-working space WeWork near South Station. Travis was mentored by both the CEO and the VP of Business Development.
Travis described a highlight of his experience there:
I was invited to sit in on an investors meeting with Ben, Privy’s CEO. I mostly sat back and learned from Ben’s presentation he was giving to the investor. At first, I didn’t have much to say regarding why this man should invest in this growing company. However after being asked a few questions about my own work, I realized that I too, was representing Privy in front of this potential investor, even as an intern. Ben had brought me along so I could learn but I was also part of the company.
This made me feel important and slightly responsible for how this meeting went. As I answered a couple questions, I made sure to put my work and Privy in a positive light to do my part, as little as it may have been, in selling Privy to this investor. I learned that I could contribute in more expansive ways, in addition to just being an intern.
In his letter of recommendation, Dan, the VP of Business Development, highly recommended Travis and described his work as impressive:
Travis’s interests in business and computer science helped him contribute greatly to a small entrepreneurial team and also engage our software engineers in an intellectually curious and helpful manner.
Travis helped write content and customer case studies, which he published on the Privy blog. He researched and generated sales prospect lists for the sales team and sent marketing and partnership emails. In both cases, the company saw actual results from the programs Travis worked on.
When asked what was the most important thing he learned, Travis emphasized a few points: learning how a start-up operates, the many things that need to happen to make a company run effectively and seeing all the different tools and why each one is needed in different ways to grow the company.