In one word, my summer was: Productive.
Not only was I interning (more like consulting) for a startup called Tisket, part of the Harvard Innovation Lab’s Venture Incubation Program (VIP), I was also running my own startup called Piinch. On top of all of this, I was crazy enough to be one of the pioneers of Harvard Business School’s HBX CORe program, which is an online class aimed at teaching young entrepreneurs lessons from HBS’s three core classes: Economics for Managers, Business Analytics, and Financial Accounting.
Needless to say, everything I did this summer had entrepreneurship as its core element. While working at Tisket, the only two people in the office were the CEO and myself, while everyone else on the team was out in either New York or San Francisco looking for funding. This enabled me to get a real understanding of how to effectively manage a startup-sized company. If there wasn’t something I was doing, it was being done by the guy sitting opposite me, who also happened to be the founder of the company. I was getting exposure to 100% of the business, and this was an invaluable lesson. I learned how to go about product development cycles, how to explain UI and UX problems to a development team, and how to effectively manage a business development strategy.
What was valuable about my time at Tisket was that almost all of what I was doing and learning was applicable to my own startup, Piinch. I developed the ability to really strip a product down to its minimally viable product (MVP). I was able to effectively communicate with developers halfway across the globe to explain bugs, and I learned how to approach and genuinely take care of clients all the way down the “sales funnel.” This was a great opportunity for me and it was incredible to be part of a VIP in the Harvard Innovation Lab, not only because of the space, but because of all the genuinely amazing people who were also working there. Not only were people persistent in helping us with Tisket, but when someone discovered I was working on Piinch, they were curious and eager for me to tell them my story and what I was trying to accomplish.
I found a very similar attitude of the people taking HBX CORe as well. Most people would think that students taking classes in business and management would be very competitive and cutthroat, but I’ve found it to be the opposite. Everyone is willing and, in fact, eager to collaborate: form study groups, help each other when the answers aren’t clear, etc. While not everything I learnt in CORe is applicable to Piinch,some of the people I’ve met through it, and some of the things I’ve learnt have been invaluable.
So what’s the point of all of this? Well, this was my first summer doing something genuinely productive, working effectively 7 days a week, and living by myself. Although that doesn’t sound like how most people want to spend their freshman summer, I loved it! The blog I wrote last year was called ‘From Fresh Eyes’ and having spent the summer how I did, given that I had never done anything like that before, I think doing something you’re passionate about is imperative. If you don’t do something you love, or something you care about, you clearly won’t enjoy it. But more than that, you won’t be able to put in 100%, nor will you be able to take away as much as you should. So when thinking about what to do next summer, I urge you to keep this question in mind: “What am I passionate about?”