College Sponsored Summer Internship: Whitehead Internship Program

Interested in business, finance, or entrepreneurship? The Whitehead Internship Program is funded by a Haverford alumnus, honoring John C. Whitehead ’43, to encourage Haverford students, who have completed their sophomore or junior year (rising juniors and rising seniors), to engage in a summer work experience related to entrepreneurial endeavors, small business enterprise, venture capital or investment finance activities. Students can seek funding for an internship with a pre-established “College Partner” or other organizations as “Self-Designed Internships.” Apply for funding by February 14th or 21st respectively, 2016. Note: If you plan to apply to the Whitehead program, you MUST attend the information session TONIGHT at 6pm in the Faculty Dining Room of the DC. This internship is sponsored by Haverford College — for information about other college-sponsored internships, go to the College Sponsored Internships page on the CCPA website. Not totally sure what to expect in these internship experiences? Read your classmate Andrew Shook’s recounting of his experience with Wash Cycle Laundry, funded by the Whitehead Internship Program.

Wash Cycle Laundry

By Andrew Shook ’16

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.

For more insight into the Wash Cycle Laundry experience, read from the perspective of Yue Xiang ’17 here.