7 Things We Learned at the First Startup Internship Summit

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May 9, 2017

On April 21, CommonBond partnered with WayUp to co-host the first Startup Internship Summit in New York City, as part of CommonBond's commitment to go beyond student loans and provide educational and career-oriented resources to the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.

It definitely wasn't your average career fair. Hundreds of students and recent grads came to this free event at Convene to network one-on-one with recruiters from New York's top startups, like Blue Apron, Justworks, Minibar and dozens more.

"Our team was impressed by the caliber of students we spoke with at the Internship Summit," ValuePenguin product manager Robert Harrow said. "We found many potential intern candidates who we're excited to follow-up with, and it was fantastic to share the stage with other leading NYC startups."

Attendees also had the chance to hear directly from industry experts about how to land an internship at a startup during two (very candid!) back-to-back panel discussions. CommonBond streamed the videos on Facebook live, and you can check them out below.

Want a quick summary of the best advice from the panelists and moderators?

1. It's ok to be bold.

According to Danielle Davis, HR Manager at Convene, it's more than OK to be bold in your internship search. Danielle suggests that candidates can put themselves out there by sending a cold email to someone at the company they want to work for, and by making sure to follow up consistently after submitting an application.

2. Take initiative.

Most startup companies aren't as structured as larger, corporate firms. Nikki Schlecker, Head of People at WayUp, says that because of this, interns are expected to hit the ground running on day 1. What's the best way to do this? She suggests coming to your internship prepared with several ideas and projects that you want to pursue, so that you can create your own experience, and jump right in!

3. Thank-you notes are key.

It sounds obvious, but a good thank you note can go a long way. In particular, make sure to personalize your thank you note, and highlight something specific you learned during that interview. Keryn Koch, Head of People at CommonBond says that her favorite notes are handwritten ones, because they show extra effort and care.

4. Be brief and avoid typos.

Syndhia Javier, Associate Director of Employer and Alumni Relations at Columbia University asked each of the panelists what their pet peeve was when it came to resumes and cover letters. All of the panelists agreed that cover letters and resumes should never go over one page, and that typos are a total deal-breaker. So double check everything for grammar and spelling!

5. Make yourself memorable.

It's hard to stand out in a sea of applicants. Greg Davidson, Head of Sales at Artsy, encouraged the audience to get creative during the interview process. As a candidate on the job search, he had custom shirts printed before a Skype interview with the name of the role he was interviewing for. At the end of the interview, he revealed the shirt, and, a few weeks later, landed the job!

6. No tech experience? No problem.

Startups hire for a lot more than just backend engineers and product managers. Radhika Duggal, the Vice President of Marketing at CommonBond, talked about how her background in marketing and branding for a consulting firm helped her land her current role. She explained that while having a tech background is great, the most important thing is that you have a background in something that can help move the business forward.

7. Self-awareness is vital.

Mackenzie Barth, CEO and Co-Founder of Spoon University talked about the importance of self awareness during the interview process, and on the job. According to Mackenzie, employers who ask about your strengths and weaknesses are really looking to figure out how well you know yourself. It's important to be honest with yourself with what you're good at, what you'll need support on, and overall, what you believe you will bring to the company.

 

About WayUp

WayUp is the leading online job marketplace exclusively for U.S. college students and recent grads. Launched in September 2014, WayUp is the only site where employers can post a job to a targeted (and filtered) audience of students at any U.S. college. WayUp currently has more than 3.5 million profiles of students and recent grads who represent 6,300 campuses in the U.S., with 25-30 thousand students joining each week. WayUp works with startups to Fortune 500 companies with innovative approaches in the way in which they recruit millennial talent, and places 1 in every 3 applicants in a job.

For more information, visit https://www.wayup.com.

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