CCPA Summer Series: Haverford Partnership for Economic Development

Posted on: July 28, 2015

By Sarina Manetta

This summer I have been working for the Haverford Partnership for Economic HPEDlogoDevelopment, and I’m pleased with the progress I have made over the course of the internship. The Haverford Partnership for Economic Development, or HPED, is a non-profit group that aims to revitalize and improve the appearance of the many business districts located in Haverford Township. The HPED is comprised of all volunteers, where homeowners, business owners, and town officials sit on the Board.

Due to the volunteer nature of HPED, the group relies heavily on the work that the intern completes over the course of the summer. Unlike most internships where there are many interns who take on a number of projects, I am the only one that is able to fully dedicate my efforts to HPED and their goals since the other board members have their own careers. At the start of my internship I was a little weary of being the only intern for a small organization working independently on my own timeline. Heading into my last week of working with the HPED, I now see that this format has allowed me to complete a variety of tasks and have a visible impact on the growth of the group.

The main goal for HPED this summer was to start the development of a façade improvement matching grant program for business owners in the township. A program like this would provide an incentive for business owners to update the look of their storefronts, because they would be able to complete a project for half the cost. Many towns surrounding Havertown have similar programs in place where their business districts have greatly benefitted from it.

However, in my preliminary research I discovered that HPED was not yet prepared to receive the state funding that most local organizations use to run their façade matching grant programs. Instead I recommended that the HPED hold different events and services specifically modeled for Haverford Township that had success in other areas. These events would achieve the ultimate goal of beautifying the township and encouraging business owners to implement good design in their storefronts, while eliminating the need for funding. From there my work plan changed completely, and I had to continue my research on these events.

Following my presentation on these events the board members discussed implementing these programs in the township. They valued my input, and together we were able to create a set list of events and services that HPED can provide to the members of their business districts. I have since spent the rest of my time creating resources for business owners in the township, and preparing these programs to hopefully begin in the fall.

This summer I have been challenged with staying on top of my work and holding myself accountable. But the freedom I have been given to work independently allowed for my work to evolve into lasting change that will benefit the HPED and Haverford Township in the near future. I have really enjoyed working for a small organization that truly appreciates the work I’m doing. I am looking forward to seeing my efforts come to fruition when these programs launch later in the year!

CCPA Summer Series: Stephen Klein Wellness Center

Posted on: July 24, 2015

By Alana Engelbrecht

My internship at the PAGE_SKWC-FrontStephen Klein Wellness Center (SKWC) – an integrative primary care clinic for those without housing – has been both diverse and immersive. There are so many things I love about this health center and about my role there; but, my favorite component is that there really isn’t a typical “day in the life.” While I work 9a-5p, the day usually goes pretty quickly, and I may spend some of the day outside or at another Project HOME site. For example, I have the option of learning from a nurse and doctor from the clinic as they tend to the medical needs of those without housing around certain areas of Philadelphia. I have also accompanied a nurse to some of Project HOME’s shelters for similar purposes.

While both of these outreach efforts may result in a prescription written to help the patient, a diagnosis of the problem, or merely a continued collection of the patient’s likely scattered and uncertain medical history, outreach efforts to the shelters seem particularly rewarding. Patients can be tracked over time more consistently and hopefully are easier to contact, allowing more thorough treatment that better suits the patients’ emotional and physical needs. After all, huge component of medicine, lest we forget, is emotional. Being a gear in the medical system can be frightening, daunting, and overwhelming for anybody, but particularly for those without income, insurance, housing, formal education, and cultural or social currency who may have been involuntarily hospitalized or otherwise subjected to treatment without their consent in the past. To ease some of this anxiety, multiple visits to shelters may be integral in building ‘rapport’ (a frequently used word among staff and volunteers) with patients such that they trust their medical professional’s actions and opinions. Above all, I’ve realized the importance of stressing that treatment is the patient’s choice, and that the role of their health care team is merely to provide them with options. Giving the patient agency, information about, and control over their body and their situation is essential if any progress is to be made and relationship sustained.

The amazing staff has made the diversity of my role possible. I feel so lucky to experience their professionalism, mentorship, and friendship over these past two months. They made it clear early on that the internship would be whatever I made it because they were, essentially, giving me the freedom to do whatever I wanted within the boundaries of the SKWC. This has included the aforementioned medical outreach, touring other shelters just to see their layout/residents/staff, and being very involved in the daily happenings at the SKWC. I rarely said ‘no’ to a proposed project or experience – something I highly recommend doing in any internship experience you’re given (unless you’re overwhelmed with work or really don’t want to do something, of course). As a result, I ended up helping create a new component of the SKWC’s website and editing an already existent page, am helping create/present an educational class about health and diabetes to the residents of one of Project HOME’s shelters, have developed/carried out/analyzed a patient satisfaction survey for clients at the SKWC, have shadowed doctors and residents and spoken to medical students, among other things!

I could continue writing about my experience for pages and pages. But what I would recommend for those of you trying to land the Jaharis Fellowship is to aim for maximum time commitment to the organization and to demonstrate your passion for what the organization does in your application. Make sure the project is something you really want to do, and immerse yourself completely in every aspect of the experience. You won’t regret it!

CCPA Summer Series: Take The Interview

Posted on: July 21, 2015

By Joseph Leroux

Elon Musk once tweeted “Was going to work out this morning. Went to IHOP instead.” 955TakeTheInterviewWe’ve all been there, but it’s nice to know that your expectations for the founder of multiple successful companies aren’t always true. Namely, that they have unlimited willpower and motivation that comes from the air.

I’m now more than halfway through my Whitehead Internship at Take The Interview (TTI), a tech startup located in the heart (midtown) of New York City. Take The Interview was founded with the mission to change the hiring process using a technology-agnostic interview management platform. Everyone knows how the interview process works–or at least it’s in everyone’s best interest to know–so I thought an internship with TTI would give me some business exposure in an area with which I’m familiar. It turns out, I’m not as familiar with interviewing as I thought. This blow to my ego pushed me to think about how I, as an intern, can add value to TTI, and more generally, to people with whom I network and interact. In that spirit, I will use this post to discuss my initial expectations for working at a startup, and how my TTI experienced has justified those expectations.

After crossing the Rubicon by signing the contract, I was quick to ascribe images to the “business operations intern” description. Among those images were green smoothies I’d be drinking every day, cool socks everyone at the office would wear, an open, one-room office. I expected a fast-paced work environment, I’d interact with many species of intelligent folk, I’d be expected to contribute in a meaningful way. I also expected the organization to be slightly (or more than slightly) disorganized, and to feel a little out of place.

Five weeks in, many of the stereotypes that colored the initial picture of my summer have manifested themselves. However, tech startups are not swamps. I was not greeted with a green smoothie on my first day, and everyone I’ve met has appeared to have a good hygiene regime. The organization of TTI has also proven my expectations wrong: the first two weeks of my internship were a “business development program” in which, each day the new hires attended workshops with the executives, and learned about the HR Tech space, to gives us the tools and industry lingo to be successful at TTI. Ignoring the high caliber sock game of the office, the startup essence of TTI can be broken down into three parts.

  1. Work hard, play hard mentality

There are a few benefits to this mentality. First, it means that there is rarely ever “busy work”. Second, it means the hours are fairly consistent, and not overwhelming. Third, it means that the office encourages you to have your own life outside of TTI, which is great for a summer intern who wants to explore New York. Once a week or so, the Sales and CS teams go out after work, which is a cool way to get to know coworkers without having to talk about TTI, and to get to know parts of the city that I probably wouldn’t get to see otherwise.

  1. Extensive mentorship access and opportunity

TTI is currently building the middle management structure from within. Jack McNeilly ‘13 is a perfect example. He started at TTI last year, and was promoted to “Business Development Manager”–a title that didn’t exist when he started. He now manages a team of Biz Dev Reps, and me, of course. There are sort of inherent mentorship opportunities in a structure like this, because it is in the best interest of a manager that you succeed.

  1. Witnessing and effecting change in real time

Since I started in June, two new hires have been made, and they are currently making decisions on other positions. When the office has 20 employees or so, the effect of those new people is palpable. Along with this growth, making changes is easier in a small organization than in a large one. Proposing a change means Google chatting or emailing an executive. Last week, we changed the structure of our morning meetings to include market news and competitor updates. Small changes like that remind everyone that current policies and practices are to be questioned and optimized for our current employees and clients.

You can find intelligent coworkers in any industry or type of company, and you can likewise find good mentors. However, the startup culture cannot be maintained on a large scale. This culture supports innovation in every facet of the business: from the current practices and policies to the role into which you will grow over time. Experiencing the time in a company’s life when the model for future practices is being created allows you to explore different interests you might have without leaving the company or industry, and without having to apply to another division.

CCPA Summer Series: Whitehead Internship at Econsult Solutions

Posted on: July 17, 2015

By Jennifer Kowalski ’17
Whitehead Internship at Econsult Solutions, Inc.

kowalski.fwI am nearing the end of my ten week Whitehead Internship experience at Econsult Solutions in Philadelphia, and it has been an amazing summer! As a bit of background, Econsult is an economic consulting firm that specializes in real estate, transportation, economic development, public policy and finance, as well as litigation support services. With a fairly small staff and a heavy client load, I have been lucky enough to be exposed to all of these categories through a wealth of projects.

I began the summer expecting to be exposed to the firm, but only to complete fairly nominal tasks on an everyday basis. I was pleasantly surprised the morning of my very first day, when I was immediately entrusted with tasks and projects that were sent almost directly to clients. I have been given the opportunity to write drafts of reports, create PowerPoints for presentations, hone in on my research skills, and also learn tips and tricks in excel. That last point is actually an interesting one, as excel is something that we do not learn or use at all in school, yet it is used all over the business world. I have also gained valuable time management and research skills that will easily be translated back into academic life at Haverford as well as public policy and consulting knowledge that I am sure will prove useful in future career opportunities.

One of the most exciting parts of my internship so far has been the fast-paced nature of the work. No two days have been the same, with some weeks easily being split amongst five or more different projects, with tasks varying widely accordingly. I truly think that the small nature of Econsult is what has allowed me to have a part in so many different aspects of the work, one of the facets that I have appreciated the most. From the very beginning stages of a proposal, to the final product that we send out to a client, I have been exposed to nearly every aspect of the process. I have also been given the pleasure of sitting in on meetings within the company and also with clients, great insight into how the consultants interact both within and across firms.

I have been fortunate enough to work on many projects that have ranged from feasibility and economic impact analyses, to budget and tax increment financing modeling. I have also had the ability to work on projects with clients that ranged from small cultural events, to large higher educational institutions, as well as real estate developments. This vast exposure has given me great insight into what areas of application I am and am not interested in, a realization I would not have had if my work was limited to one department.

So far this has been the most wonderful experience of learning so much about not only consulting, but also a glimpse into life in the working world. I have learned so much, met wonderful people, and value this experience as a step in the right direction for my future career!

CCPA Summer Series: DLL

Posted on: July 16, 2015

By Jason Hirsch ’16

This summer I have been working at DLL (formerly De Lage Landen) as a Project Manager Intern in the Corporate IT department. DLL is a financial solutions partner based out of Eindhoven, Netherlands. As I learned during the first few weeks of my internship, this company is not only large, but also extremely profitable. Along with employing over 6000 members (DLL calls employees members), they hold almost 35 billion euros (around 42 million dollars) of assets and have net profits of 450 million euros (around 600 million dollars). The office where I work in Wayne, PA employs 1100 members and conducts nearly 10 billion euros of transactions per fiscal year!

DLLLogo500x161Most of my work focuses on an IT improvement program called Phoenix. At DLL, the computer systems used to make transactions with dealers are antiquated and inefficient. The Phoenix Program is a multi-year venture whose goal is to upgrade these systems and improve business flow efficiency. Currently, there are 10 workstreams running simultaneously in Phoenix, ranging from front office upgrades to business change improvement. Since I work with project managers and not coders, my work has been based on problem solving and efficiency improvement on the business end.

One of the more interesting tasks I have been working on at DLL involves the application Microsoft Project. My goal is to create a Phoenix program level project plan accessible from a shared portal called SharePoint. Since Phoenix workstreams run simultaneously with complex dependencies, it has been difficult for high-level members to track the overall progress of Phoenix. After a few days playing around with MS Project and its implementation on SharePoint, I was able to construct a working model of a master “Phoenix Program Plan” controlled by multiple project plans with internal dependencies. Additionally, the “Phoenix Program Plan” is adjusted automatically if any one of the project plans change. My plan for next week is to actually implement this model into the workstream plans and have the system functioning by the end of the month.

Other than individualized work, I have had the chance to interact with high-level members on a daily basis. Last week, I helped review a contractual Statement of Work (SOW) of over $5 million dollars. I also prepare slide decks for the DLL Steering Committee and Business Change Board. What I enjoy regarding this internship is the abundance of freedom I have in my day-to-day work. I have two desk locations (one in the IT department and one with the US management team), which allows me to interact with members in different departments. My days are also varied. There are days where I sit in hours of meetings, but also days when I am working on Excel and PowerPoint.

DLL also does a great job emphasizing a healthy workplace environment. The cafeteria food has been delicious. My lunches consist of gourmet sandwiches and flatbreads, some of which have been the best I have ever had. There is a gym in the building which I have taken advantage of multiple times during my internship. I also participate in a DLL tennis league and have met an intern that plays tennis for Muhlenberg. Finally, I attended a company-sponsored happy hour where I networked with multiple high-level members.

My internship at DLL has been a great learning experience. I have obtained immense experience communicating with executives, analyzing and managing data, and creating streamlined solutions for the Phoenix Program. I look forward to my final three weeks at DLL and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

CCPA Summer Series: Academy of Country Music’s Lifting Lives Music Camp at Vanderbilt University

Posted on: July 15, 2015

By Jess Libow ’16

“I always wanted to write a book about Williams Syndrome,” David explained after a workshop with songwriter Odie Blackmon, “but I might have to change it up. There should be a song about this!” I met David, and many others, at the Academy of Country Music’s Lifting Lives Music Camp at Vanderbilt University this past June. I was lucky enough to receive a Gertrude Albert Heller Memorial Grant to sponsor my trip to Nashville, and am incredibly grateful for the experience.lifting lives camp

Lifting Lives is a weeklong musical experience for people ages 16 and older with Williams Syndrome. Over the course of the week, campers from all over the country come together to write a song with renowned Nashville songwriters and, after much rehearsal, record and perform their original work at the historic Grand Ole Opry.

While performing a song coined only a few days earlier might be intimidating to most, particularly in such a hallowed venue, this is just the kind of setting in which a lot of people with Williams Syndrome thrive. Williams Syndrome (WS), is a congenital intellectual disability caused by the deletion of certain genes on chromosome 7. According to NIH, an estimated 1 in 7,500 to 10,000 people have WS, making it extremely rare. In addition to high levels of anxiety and range of medical issues including cardiac conditions, people with WS are likely to have a number of distinct social qualities. Studies have shown, for instance, that people with WS have a strong predilection for music. People with WS also tend to have remarkably little social inhibition; they are eager to meet and please others and are deeply attuned to the emotional states of those around them. Their profound desire to connect lends itself easily to musical performance. People with WS are often natural storytellers.

As an English major interested in disability studies, I was drawn to Lifting Lives because I saw it as an opportunity to witness the self-narration of people with disabilities through songwriting. This year, the campers wrote a song with Ross Copperman and Heather Morgan titled “Wherever You Go.” It’s a generally uplifting song about aspirations and supporting one another. The most notable part of the song is the bridge, which stands out for its capacity to be at once universal and incredibly specific to people with WS. “Thunder roars and the rain might fall,” the song goes, “but together we’re unstoppable.” This brief moment in the song addresses two significant characteristics of WS. People with WS have extremely high levels of anxiety, particularly about events beyond their control. Thunderstorms are a common stressor for a number of the Lifting Lives campers, and were a constant topic of discussion throughout the week. Because of the extent to which the “roar” of thunder produces anxiety in people with WS, when the campers sing this line they are essentially referring to the highest possible level of emotional discomfort – it is both a metaphor and a reality. The second half of the line, “but together we’re unstoppable” speaks directly to people with WS’s valuation of human connection. The lyrics suggest that through interdependence, the campers have the capacity to withstand anxieties and other obstacles, a message that resonates with them personally but is applicable across differences and abilities.

In addition to writing and performing an original piece, campers participate in a range of music-oriented programming. There are celebrity meet and greets along the way (this year with JT Hodges, the Swon Brothers, Scotty McCreery, and Hunter Hayes), but what the campers ultimately walk away with is a glimpse inside the professional world of country music and what it means to be a performer. In daily rehearsals with the camp’s music directors, the campers work on their singing and adjust to being part of a choir and singing as “one voice” rather than showcasing their individual voices. Professionalism is stressed throughout the week; campers are encouraged to be respectful of the boundaries of the artists they meet as well as to present themselves well on stage.

But it’s not all business: campers get to experience a lot of Nashville hotspots including the Wildhorse Saloon, the Bluebird Cafe, and Winner’s Karaoke Bar. Tours are taken of the Gibson guitar factory, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and Hatch Show Print. The experience is unforgettable, and a lot of that, according to many of the guys in my dorm, has to do with the emphasis on both independence and community at the camp.

In my role as a counselor I lived in a cottage-style dorm at Vanderbilt with eight male campers and one other counselor. Together we worked on daily independent living skills including making breakfast, taking out the trash, making our beds, managing medication, and keeping the kitchen and bathrooms clean. The people who come to camp have a range of experience levels in this regard: some live at home with their parents, while others live independently or in group living facilities. But at camp, we operated as a team. Josh helped Nader make his bed on the first day. Michael offered to switch his place in the shower schedule if someone else needed a little extra time. Mark checked with me every morning to make sure his clothes matched, never asking for help but just looking for a little affirmation. Some of the guys would pray together before going to sleep. We had fun too though. Orie liked to show if his yoyo skills and celebrity impressions were a regular occurrence from the group. It was a pet peeve of mine when people left trash in the pantry and I once opened my door to an empty muffin tin waiting for me as a prank. Before bed, we would come together as a group to reflect on the day and our experiences at camp. During these conversations, the guys called each other their “Williams Syndrome brothers.” People talked about how good it felt to be with their new friends, and there was never a shortage of gratitude expressed.

For me, this perspective was the most memorable aspect of camp. It was in these moments that I saw how important community and affinity are not just to people with Williams Syndrome, but to people in general. Yes, its a symptom of Williams Syndrome to be friendly, to not treat anyone like a stranger. But I was touched to be welcomed into this group of empathetic, supportive, and caring people. It’s a community I hope to maintain a connection to moving forward.

Sources
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williams_syndrome
williams-syndrome.org/

CCPA Summer Series: Health Care Improvement Foundation

Posted on: July 10, 2015

By Sam Kane ’16

This summer I am working at the Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance (PHCQA)logo, which recently merged into the Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF), located in Center City Philadelphia. HCIF is an independent non-profit organization that leads healthcare initiatives aimed at improving the safety, outcomes, and care experiences of all patients, residents, and consumers across the Delaware Valley. There are only 11 of us here at HCIF, including Haverford graduates Bret Marlowe (’14) and Erik Muther (’94), but what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality. One of the most important things I have learned during my internship this summer is how important the people you work with are, and I am incredibly thankful to be working with Bret, Erik, and the rest of the HCIF team. I really enjoy working with them, and having great co-workers goes a long way to alleviating some of the stresses of everyday work. Everyone is always willing to help, and there are so many little technicalities – whether it is a time-saving trick in Microsoft Excel or tip regarding best practices to use when emailing high-ranking executives – that I have learned that not only help produce the best result in the most efficient way possible but will also surely help when graduation time comes next year and I am searching for a job in the proverbial ‘real world’.

Speaking of the ‘real world’, one question my friends and family always ask me is what I want to do after I graduate. After coming to the realization that “I don’t know” can’t be my answer forever, as it has been since winning the lottery and becoming a professional athlete weren’t considered viable options, I put some serious thought and research into different careers and job field. The conclusion I came to left me in a similar place. I still don’t know what I want to do after graduating. And for now, that’s okay. What I did learn, however, is that you will never know if you like something or if you are good at something phcqauntil you try it, so I came to PHCQA/HCIF with an open mind and a desire to learn as much as possible. Fortunately, I landed in the right place. I have gotten the opportunity to design graphics in Microsoft Word, analyze and format data in Microsoft Excel, create presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint, run and operate the PHCQA Twitter and Facebook Pages (follow us @PHCQA on Twitter and like us on Facebook!), perform research both online and via phone calls, brainstorm ideas for projects, learn about the health care industry, and sit in on important meetings, all while soaking up as many valuable tips as possible along the way. What an experience!

My time here at PHCQA/HCIF is brief, but the impact of this experience is lifelong. Working alongside two Haverford graduates has reaffirmed a really important tip that every graduate should remember: Haverford alumni are always willing to help. Although my time at Haverford is finite, the people I’ve met, experiences I’ve shared, and connections I’ve made will last a lifetime.

CCPA Summer Series: My Summer with Sublime Text 2

Posted on: July 8, 2015

By Dan Hopkins
photos: organic spectroscopy

This summer I have been working with Professor Joshua Schrier to build a website with the aim of helping students in introductory Chemistry classes learn organic spectroscopy more efficiently and effectively. I’ve never done any sort of web development before so this was a really great opportunity for me to venture into a very popular subfield of computer science.Hopkins1

My work day has typically involved finding a quiet place to work in the INSC or library and coding there for a few hours, or otherwise working on the design and layout of the website. The Instructional Technology Center (ITC) on the second floor of Stokes has been incredibly helpful in suggesting design standards and providing comments about usability. It’s very Hopkins2important to have someone else look over your work on a project like this; I might grow attached to a specific layout or design that simply does not look as good as it should, and it’s important to have that second (or third or fourth) opinion.

I mainly rely on the ITC and Professor Schrier for this type of feedback, but the Professor’s other student workers have gone above and beyond to help with the project. They have suffered through multiple play-tests, demonstrations, and questionnaires Hopkins3and provided the most useful feedback of all (since students will be the ones using the website for the most part). Big shout out to them.

Most of this summer has solely been coding and getting different coding libraries to work in tandem. I am using a service called Parse as a large part of my back-end, and that has involved a good deal of work because we’re working with 800,000 molecules (!!!). The site is really starting to come together, just in time for a conference at Bucknell University in late July that several others from the Chemistry department and I will be attending. I am pretty nervous about it, but confident that the site will be in a good place by the time of my presentation.

Since this project was pitched as a potential entrepreneurial venture, Professor Schrier and I went through the standard legal process to be sure that if/when we try to market this website as a product for the broader educational community we will be all set and ready to go. It’s really exciting to be involved in something that could potentially help thousands of students learn a particularly frustrating part of chemistry. Hundreds of thousands of students take introductory chemistry courses, and even if their learning were bolstered in the slightest by my efforts it would be an incredible personal and professional success.

Hopkins4I am thrilled that what I am working on this summer may be of some actual use to first year students at Haverford next year. With that excitement comes a certain level of stress and trepidation, but I hope to be able to continue to improve the website next year to work out any of the kinks. It’s amazing that it’s already July; the summer has gone so quickly. But this experience has definitely helped me cultivate a better sense of what I would like to do after I graduate in May.

CCPA Summer Series: Wash Cycle Laundry

Posted on: July 6, 2015

By Andrew Shook

I spent last summer working at a hedge fund, and while the experience was great, I felt that I wanted some experience working for a company, as opposed to just tracking them.  I spent a lot of time building up a network by speaking with a lot of alumni across an array of career paths, and anyone else they passed me on to.  I found this was particularly fruitful for obtaining interviews and would highly recommend it.  Unlike many other Juniors, I was not looking for an internship that would lead to a job, but one that would provide me the most options. My decision came down to Wash Cycle Laundry (WCL) or a large Philadelphia based company (not through the Whitehead Program).  I surprised a few by choosing the smaller WCL, giving@PhillyHapp up a larger pay, bigger brand name and decreasing my chance of getting a job out of the internship.  A month in, and I am very happy with my decision.

Photo credit: Twitter @PhillyHapp

WCL is a local laundry company that picks up and delivers laundry to businesses and people.  There is a consumer side to the business, where local residents can use the laundry service, and an institutional side, where we service hospitals and universities etc.  The orientation included some time on the frontline, where I spent time folding laundry at a couple of the company’s plants.  While I wouldn’t necessarily want to fold laundry for my career, it was a great way to learn more about the operations of the company and meet the staff.  I was surprised by how close the front line staff was to the management team, expecting the relationship to be much more distant.

Smaller companies give you more responsibility and more exposure.  Within two weeks here I had helped redesign the compensation structure for employees, which is something that business grad students would dream of doing and a task that I would never have been able to do at a larger firm.  Having strong excel skills prior to the internship was definitely helpful, as I was able to impress with this early on, leading to more tasks being sent my way.  It was a little scary at first to realize that my actions were literally directly affecting people’s lives, but that seems to be the start-up world.

Some other tasks that I have been involved in include producing both daily performance reports for the laundry and delivery staff, so that their performance is more transparent and a weekly performance report for the management staff so that they get a strong and wide capture of how the company is performing.  I enjoyed those tasks because I spent a lot of time looking at the small details of the company and exercising my knowledge of statistics to help glean the best data for the reports.  My main task however is to help obtain the B Corp Certification, which is a test of a company’s’ social and environmental performance, and can act as ‘street cred’ during expansion to other cities.  This involves a lot of information gathering, allowing me to learn how the company runs from the very bottom all the way to the top.  I have also been able to go to meetings with potential new partners and investors.

What is nice about working at a small company is that my resume won’t just have a bunch of completed tasks, it will have real accomplishments such as (hopefully) obtaining a certification, helping to get a new client or investor, increasing margins by x% through adjusting the compensation structure etc.  I intend on continuing my networking throughout the summer and look forward to what projects will come next.

 

CCPA Summer Series: Athena Bioventures

Posted on: June 30, 2015

This summer, I am working at Athena Bioventures, a biotech venture capital fund founded by Haverford alumnus Jim Kuo. Haverford San Diego event photo - Jeffrey HongDue to Dr. Kuo’s extensive experience in the biomedical field as both an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I am indebted to him and the Whitehead program for this amazing summer experience. The reason I chose this internship was due to my interest in both biotech/chemistry and business. At the same time, I wanted to gain both startup and venture capital experience to potentially commercialize the graphene synthesis method I developed during my sophomore and junior years at Haverford.

Currently, I have worked on variety of tasks, including white papers, due diligence, patent research, cost effectiveness analyses, and building slide decks. I also have the wonderful opportunity to join various team meetings and conference calls: not only am I able to learn from these business interactions, but I am also able to ask questions and work with world class scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors. My work is primarily divided between three main projects:

  • BioSavita, a startup using genetically engineered yeast strains to create cost-effective antibodies and vaccines against a variety of infectious diseases including Ebola
  • Monarch Labs, a more established company specializing in biosurgery currently expanding internationally
  • A new pharmaceutical company that has been developing drug therapy for retroviral diseases

The day starts with checking my email; since I currently working on international projects, there is sometimes an exchange of messages throughout the night. If there are no urgent matters such as meeting rescheduling, I read the news and continue work on any pending projects. Depending on the day, there may be conference calls from 9 am – 8 pm (due to some teams we are working with in Israel and Oceania). There are also physical meetings with various companies around San Diego. The work is complex, but highly rewarding, as I know the therapies and drugs produced will help thousands of people. One of the projects I am looking forward to is meeting with the CEO of a marketing company this week.

One of the most important skills required has been organization. Since I work on projects with multiple timelines, it is important to be able to prioritize and adapt to changing situations. Another major benefit that Haverford taught me is the importance of communicating and working together. Nearly all the classes I’ve taken, ranging from Chem Superlab to Philosophy, has revolved around discussion and small group work. Though I am no longer doing lab work, another technical skill that I found extremely useful was the ability to read dense research papers and patent literature and synthesize that information into concise one page summaries.

My advice to peers who wish to find internships is to do background research in the field. Next, get involved in various activities in the field that demonstrate your interest and dedication. For example, begin reading trade journals, start a blog, or join a club. Do not hesitate to reach out to as many people in the field as you can in order to establish a network and learn more about the actuality of working in the field. Of course, the CCPA provides various resources to help you find an internship. Luck is when opportunity meets preparation – the more you prepare and network for a specific internship, the more interviews and chances of landing a job you will get.