OtherHow I Spent My Summer Vacation: Interns and Startups Share their Stories (Part I)

While many students spend their summer vacations waiting tables, several lucky Oregon college students who went through OEN’s Intern Fair last spring ended up getting real-world business experience working for local startups.

This fall, OEN will be offering its popular “OEN Connect” Intern Fair again on Friday, Sept. 28, where we help connect entrepreneurs and their young companies with talented interns. If you’d like to participate, please contact Kirsten Ringen at kirstenr@oen.org or 503-222-2270.

In the meantime, we wanted to share how valuable the summer program was for local college students and startups alike.

What the Interns Told Us…
We spoke with the following students or recent graduates who went through the summer OEN Intern Fair about their startup work experiences:

  • Monica Down, a senior at University of Portland studying English with minors in Spanish, German, and Entrepreneurship, who spent her summer as an intern at 24Notion;
  • Christopher Kupa, who received a BA in Political Science, Philosophy, & Economics at Western Washington University and is halfway through an MBA at Portland State University and landed an internship at startup Accumulus;
  • Sarah Nanbu, who graduated from the University of Portland in May 2012 with a major/minor in environmental ethics & policy / economics, and interned at startup CPUsage;
  • Kristine Nguyen, who graduated from Portland State University in June 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing & Advertising Management, got an internship at 24Notion and a part-time job at startup 4-Tell.

Monica Down
Sarah Nanbu
Christopher Krupa

Q. How did the OEN intern fair work for you? What opportunities did you have and where did you ultimately land?
Monica: “The OEN Intern Fair was an excellent experience in terms of just gaining more experience and confidence talking to people. The great thing about these startups is that often they are looking for more than one intern so I was offered four positions and ultimately landed at 24Notion, a lifestyle marketing, advertising and PR company in SE.”

Christopher: “I enjoyed the internship fair, as there were several interesting companies present. After the fair I only spoke with people from a couple of companies, as I wanted to find an internship and company that were both a good fit for me. I ultimately gained a market analyst internship with Accumulus.”

Sarah: “I am currently interning with CPUsage. I met with Jeff, CPUsage’s CEO, at the OEN Intern Fair and I was hired as CPUsage’s grant research intern. Since starting, my position has evolved to include customer support and event planning.”

Q. What would you say to other students considering an internship with a startup?
Monica: Go for it but also take it seriously. If you want a 9-5 job, you should definitely reconsider and think more about going to corporate America. Startups are incredibly rewarding, but you will be worked hard and still checking your email at 10 o’clock at night. Also, I recommend that if you land an internship with a startup, take advantage of everything that they have to offer. This includes networking contacts – the startup community is strong in Portland and also very collaborative, meet lots of people and go to lots of events (even if you are tired).

Sarah: “Definitely intern with a startup! You’ll have the opportunity to experience firsthand what it takes to start a venture which sometimes involved wearing multiple hats. And the energy and passion in startups is truly contagious and will make everyday exciting and fun!”

Q: What interested you about working with a startup vs a more established company?
Kristine: “I think it’s very rewarding to work for a startup and to see how the company evolves from all the work and effort you put into it. You get to learn so much more and even in areas that aren’t related to your field. You also get the chance to work alongside a group of very talented and creative individuals.”

Christopher: “I am interested in starting my own business at some point and I saw this as an opportunity to gain a better perspective on working for an early stage startup.”

Sarah: “As an entrepreneurial scholar (E-Scholar) at UP, I had the opportunity to study entrepreneurship and startups. This opened my eyes to Portland’s awesome entrepreneurial ecosystem, and made me want to get involved in a startup. The energy, passion, and commitment in a startup is both exciting and contagious and I wanted an opportunity to immerse myself in the startup culture.”

Q: Tell us about what you learned this summer? Were there any surprises?
Christopher: “I was surprised at the amount of time and information the guys at Accumulus have shared. They are incredibly busy, but they have consistently made time for their interns. The information they are willing discuss, why certain decisions were made and the reasoning that led them to those decisions is great. “

Kristine: “Although my main job responsibility at 4-Tell is managing our social networks, everyday is different and I’m constantly learning new things from different projects that are given to me. I get to dive into LinkedIn Ads, Google Analytics and Vertical Response, and learn how to use all these other tools that I wouldn’t have in a classroom setting. It was surprising to find out that I would be working from home, but I’m definitely not complaining! Everyone is also really supportive of each other, which makes it a really great company to work for!”

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