By Melanie Kirsh
After my first year at Boston University, I decided that Boston is truly where I feel at home. Plans fell through in terms of summer job-hunting, so I returned to my hometown in NJ. My parents were pretty excited that I would keep them company for the summer. Yet, for me, those three months were far too boring.
This summer was different. I made an effort to apply to a new Boston-based company everyday. Most applications went unnoticed, but a few landed initial interviews. Between these interviews, a former instructor of mine offered me a part-time babysitting gig for the first few weeks of summer. I accepted with zeal, and soon after, I discovered an opening at Bridj for a Social Media Intern. I filled out the application with hopes that my babysitting wouldn't deter them from hiring me.
When Bridj expressed an interest in learning more about me, I couldn't contain my excitement. This was the perfect internship for me, as I had experience as a personal blogger and social media coordinator for some campus organizations. I abided by common interview etiquette by arriving early, researching the company, and printing out an updated version of my resume. Bridj's Marketing Manager, Ryan, greeted me in the lobby and brought me up to the 15th floor. The interview took place in a conference room that had an incredible view of Kendall Square. Once we were seated in the comfy office chairs, Ryan proceeded to inquire about my social media experience, and quizzed me by giving me print outs of tweets to which he wanted me to respond. One of the final things I let Ryan know was my commitment to babysitting three afternoons a week until the end of June. I figured social media can be done from anywhere, right?
Luckily, the interview was a success and Bridj was flexible with my time in the office.
I began my internship a mere week before Bridj's June 2nd launch, so there was a lot of work to do. Bridj is constantly balancing not only being a technology company, but a transportation and logistics company as well. That being said, I quickly learned that there is never a dull moment when working at a startup. You either have a meeting, multiple projects in the pipeline, or an event to prepare for and attend. I enjoyed the thrill of true productivity, even though my hours were earlier than my self-selected BU courses.
Once we launched on June 2nd, I had the opportunity to greet Bridj passengers a few mornings throughout June. It was exciting to see the people using our service who had also tweeted about it. It's almost like receiving fan mail and then meeting that fan in person! Not many social media leads have that opportunity. After a few hours working with operations, I would take Bridj to the office. Everyday, the team meets before lunch to review how operations went for that day and then plan for the next day. The stand-up portion of our meetings is a way for people to share what they are working on and what they need help with. My favorite part of stand-up is when team members "shout out" to colleagues that have helped in completing a task or major accomplishment. It's empowering to know that your work was either made possible with "a little help from your friends" or that you contributed to someone else's task.
Now, it's been almost 2 months since I began my internship at Bridj and I've gained invaluable experience, skills, and professional connections with employees and my fellow interns. Social media may not pertain directly to my fields of study (sociology, gender studies, and public health), yet I've discovered how technology and transportation can revolutionize the way people live. The fact that I learn something new everyday is the best part about interning at Bridj. My fellow interns share that sentiment.
User Acquisition Intern, Kevin says "The office has amazing views and a fun set up (no cubicles, a nice kitchen, a break room with pool and ping pong table). The team is very helpful not only with tasks on the job, but also with career development. The rapid growth of Bridj as a company is also awesome."
User Acquisition and Operations Intern, Kyle likes the opportunity to "take responsibility on projects that matter", can't get enough of the kitchen's avocados, and appreciates the Star Wars-themed conference rooms.
Graphic & Visual Design intern, Michael appreciates the freedom he has in contributing to the hardworking team. He jokes, "I get to toss ideas around to my boss that we should try putting flame decals and a spoiler on our buses."
Development Intern, Maya shares that the people are her favorite thing: "Everyone is smart, passionate, and always eager to help."
Data Science Intern, Lauren favors Bridj's "direct and immediate impact on Boston's transportation system. And peanut M&Ms in the CIC kitchen!"
If you're considering an internship at a startup, I highly recommend it. You have the potential to work closely with every member of the team, which can eventually get you references or a connection to your dream job. Although it is somewhat rare that a startup pays interns, some like Bridj see the immense value in the hard work interns provide, so there's a chance you can find one that shares this mentality. Even if they do not pay, your experience may lead to positions that pay. Feel free to comment below with your experiences interning at a startup.