Interning at 27? That’s A First.

I’ve never been an intern before. Quite frankly, I had no intentions of going into the workforce until around the age of 27, because I thought that I was going to be a dentist.

So at 27, I’m an intern for the first time.

Here’s the background on how and why.

After getting my first acceptance (A Full Consortium Scholarship to the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, my Mom’s alma mater), an entire weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I could finally breath and had confirmed that I had in fact done something right and was going back to school.

That was mid-March. My lease in Atlanta was up in February. I had sold all my furniture, packed up my house and was living with very gracious friends of mine. For months I had told my parents my plan: quit my job in June and travel for the entire summer. Somewhere. Anywhere. Their repetitive question was: with what money? My answer was – I’ll figure it out.

My intentions to travel were quickly diminished when I found out about a really interesting program that Booth offers for incoming students – Startup Summer. To summarize how it works, incoming Booth students can apply to a plethora of Booth alum led startups around the world for a summer internship and Booth will supplement your cost of living to participate. As a budding entrepreneur who would love to be in the tech and data space, but knows nothing about it, I figured the benefits of this opportunity would be worth it:

  • Exploration: Refine and test your interest in a start-up environment and learn about a new role or industry. Is this the kind of environment you could thrive in long term?
  • Mentorship: Work with founders who have studied at Booth and who are interested in your professional development.
  • Early Access: Connect with the Polsky Center and Booth’s Network of alumni before orientation.
  • Funding: Booth provides a location-specific stipend to cover living expenses to all Startup Summer interns.

Originally, I wanted to go to Madrid, Spain to work with Geoblink, nominated by Bloomberg as one of the most promising startups in the world that revolutionizes the way businesses think about – and act upon – location intelligence. But, I was not going to be able to secure a work-visa for the 7 week internship, so I had to change my outlook.

I knew nothing about Chicago other than their summers are infamous, and I did not want to “live” in Chicago for two years and never experience one. So, I narrowed my list to all Chicago based companies.

I was offered opportunities at quite a few amazing female Booth led startups such as:

Simple Mills: Distributed in 16,000+ grocery stores nationally, a company on the forefront of the clean food movement, transforming center store grocery aisles with products made from simple, whole food, nutrient dense ingredients. Founded by Kaitlin Smith – Booth ’15.

Volantsys: Brings unique solutions to the current date consulting market that: bridge the gaps between business and technology teams, enable organizations to eliminate barriers to adopt advanced analytics, and re-train client’s staff to effectively develop data science solutions. Led by CEO, Gowri Selka, former Head of Data and Analytics of Walgreens Boots Alliance – Booth ’12.

The Minte: Offers hotel-style housekeeping to residential high-rises for $20 to $25 per day, which includes de-cluttering, dishes, counters, floors, bathroom, and bed. Founded by Kathleen Wilson – Booth ’17.

After quite a few conversations with myself, my mentors and family – I packed a few suitcases, quit my job at Turner Sports, said bye to my friends and headed up to Chicago two weeks after receiving my offer to work at Volantsys. Although this was more than a month earlier than I even expected to quit my job, I could not be happier about deciding to start my next chapter in the windy city exactly when I did. Because I had one of the best summers ever.

Goodbye Atlanta. Hello Chicago.

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