My internship at StartUp FIU

Name: Valeria Siegrist

11203609_10153260194053610_53697280073262719_o-1Major: Interdisciplinary studies (specialization: business communications and social entrepreneurship)

Where you interned: StartUP FIU. Now I have a part-time job there.

What did you do there? During the summer, I spent time building the StartUP FIU initiative, since I was one of the five first team members to join. My role was, and still is, student director. I oversaw a group of 15 students and was in charge of the student outreach initiative. We developed the structure for bi-weekly events with renowned speakers and a 14-week accelerator program, as well as launched all communications channels.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework? I applied many concepts learned in class. From how to create collaborative and diverse job environments to how to create Facebook campaigns, communicate effective with the audience and within the team. Also, my entrepreneurship classes helped me to advise teams applying to the incubator and in the selection process.

What was the coolest thing about your internship? One of the highlights of my summer was the day we picked the 19 team for the incubator’s first cohort. After reading more than 160 applications, interviewing more than 50 teams, having the final list was a moment to remember. We say that it was the day “our baby was born.” Another great day was “MatchUP Night,” when we gathered the students and community to present the companies selected to participate in the cohort, and they were able to exchange ideas and recruit new team members.  

What did you like most about your experience? My bosses’ and coworkers’ trust in me. Even though I am the youngest on the team, I was able to run more than 10 events with 50 people in attendance.

What did you learn about yourself? I learned that managing teams, specifically students volunteering for a project, is not easy. Also, I learned to “manage up and down,” which is how to communicate with your team and your superiors to let them know what are you doing. Also, I learned I am a person who prefers things done rather than perfect; however, my management team did not agree and wanted me to deliver less goals but with more quality.

How did the position increase your professional confidence? The position increased my professional confidence because I was able to drive the program for the first cohort – from recruiting applicants to establishing the processes to select the 19 teams. Moreover, we had brainstorming sessions where I shared my learnings from my experience, and we redefined the processes for cohort two.

How did you expand your professional network? First, by helping people. Since I was the face of StartUP FIU, people came to me with questions and problems. I was able to help them, and now we are connected. Then, I attended several networking events, organization meetings and classes to talk about the program, which made me create relationship with different organizers, as well as partnerships. Moreover, hosting events exposed me biweekly to 50 new faces to meet.

How did you get your internship? Director of StartUp FIU Bob Hacker is also my professor at the Honors College, and Alessia Tacchela was the former student director and my teacher assistant for the same class, “Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking.”

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Listen to the people who trust you. If they give you challenges, it is because you can accomplish them. Also, give 100 percent. This is not class where you complete your assignments and you go home. Stay. Excel. Help. Run many extra miles. You won’t regret it.