Seattle Startup Week 2015: Getting the most out of an intern(ship)

From Monday, Oct. 26 to Friday, Oct. 30, Seattle was busting at the seams with entrepreneurs and startup advocates heading to events around the city. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship partnered with Startup Hall to offer a special edition of Startup Hall’s monthly breakfast networking event Waffle Wednesday. The Buerk Center also hosted two panels: Getting the Most Out of an Intern(ship) and How to Connect with UW Student Talent.

Getting the Most Out of an Internship featured a panel of startup founders and startup interns and was hosted by Leslie Mabry, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs at the Buerk Center.

Panelists included Joel Carben, CEO of IdealSeat; current intern at IdealSeat, student at the University of Washington and professional baseball player Andrew Ely; senior undergraduate Foster School student Madeline Down;  Foster School MBA candidate Sean Cappello; UW student and Computing Kids Seattle intern Katie Ducich; and founder and CEO of Computing Kids Seattle Ritu Bahl.

The panel highlighted how to best work with interns (as an employer) and how to get the most out of an internship as an intern.


Leslie Mabry: If you could give one piece of advice to this audience, what would it be?

Andrew Ely: Seek out something you’re interested in, not something just based on what you’re studying.

Joel Carben: Be strategic. A lot of folks here are in school right now, thinking about future careers. Do some informational interviews and really try to understand “what does this job or career look like? What are the little pieces that I can use as building blocks that I can use to start to build my career?”

Maddie Down: Find value in what you’re doing and always try to add value. Ask “how am I adding value to this? How is this valuable to me?” It’s always important to ask yourself that, because if you’re not finding value or adding value, why are you there?

Sean Cappello: Don’t look at a job posting and tell yourself you’re not qualified for it. Startups tend to value horsepower and drive more than your background. If you can get there in a few weeks, then you’ll be valuable to them because no matter what they need you to do, you can figure it out.

Katie Ducich: Find people to learn from. There are so many resources. Being in college and having mentors available to you is great. Sitting down with them and saying, “I don’t need anything from you, I just want to pick your brain” about things I have no idea how to do – but they’re experts in – is helpful.

Ritu Bahl: I think we’re all saying the same thing. When you first join as an intern, you’re very highly incentivized to be learning. So in that first two weeks, you have a lot of leverage and you should set up one-on-one appointments with every aspect of the business to get that knowledge, because six months later you won’t have that leverage. Sticking to one particular narrow task, which might seem better to do because you need to get a lot done, is not as helpful as getting that 360 degree view.

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