This summer at JumpThru, we’ve been lucky enough to get some amazing interns. Here, they tell their first experience working at a startup.
My summer internship at JumpThru has provided me a very unusual intellectual experience, one that has given me so many “Eureka!” moments and has allowed me tremendous personal growth. From knowledge about the women entrepreneurial world to marketing and business strategy to technology, I have gained a comprehensive learning experience that truly expanded my insight into various industries.
From assisting the JumpThru team in brainstorming various marketing strategies for our soon-to-be-launched e-commerce site, Plum Alley, to helping the WIM accelerator companies with their pitch presentations, to writing the MyTechLetter articles, everyday was a surprise, a new task, and a new lesson. I was introduced to some of Deborah’s awesome friends and network of women entrepreneurs at various WIM events, and even taught myself some coding while helping Carol Pak, our Entrepreneur in Residence, build a reward based crowd-funding platform for women.
When Carol first came to me asking for help in constructing the basic infrastructure to the website, I had absolutely no experience in HTML, CSS, and all the other fancy computer languages that were necessary for creating web pages. I was also a newbie to WordPress, a free and open-source blogging tool that we were going to use to build our website. Back then, I really felt sorry for Carol because I wasn’t really in the position to help anyone. I was rather the person that needed to be saved from my ignorance in computing.
As it turns out, anyone (really, anyone) can build a customized website with just a little bit of research, patience, and help. WordPress already has a lot of free software components called plugins and themes, made by amazing computer wizards, that helps you add specific content and looks to your website. Thus, a background in computing is unnecessary, although my previous JAVA programming experience enabled me to build a more customized website. Just by digging into some of the HTML, CSS, and PHP files within the plugin, and modifying these codes a bit, you can definitely create a web page of your taste and needs.
One lesson I learned is that you will never find the perfect plugin you want for your website. For example, I had major difficulties in setting up customized sidebars and implementing a specific plugin for users to post projects in order to raise donations, which was further complicated by the integration of an online payment system. I’ve tested quite a few different types of plugins for these features, and many failed to meet our intent; if one piece was working, the other didn’t and sometimes, one plugin would clash with the other, preventing it from working properly. Everyday I was confronted with new problems, and I had to learn different languages on the way, but when I had finally figured a way to fix the errors, either through modification of codes or implementation of the right plugin, it simply blew my mind.
Building a website from scratch is indeed a difficult job. However, with the advancement of technology today, you are provided with so many tools. It is your job to process logic into this massive jigsaw puzzle and to make sense out of it. My journey so far was definitely challenging, but it has been so rewarding and I cannot wait to see the site go live someday. Even though my internship at JumpThru is nearing its end, I’m definitely going to continue broadening my coding experience and help Carol finish her website.
-Min Jung Yoo, Undergraduate at Brown University majoring in Applied Mathematics, Economics
I knew I had picked the right place for my summer internship when that first afternoon we had a snack of something with chocolate in it. I forget exactly what it was, but I know it had chocolate in it because I quickly learned that chocolate is a common staple of our afternoon snacks. Working in a women-filled office does have its perks. However, it is not the chocolate filled afternoons or the women-only office that makes this internship special. What makes it special is working with these women. Tina introduced me to the world of graphic design and coding, Anna and Joan taught me marketing strategies and strategic analysis, and Jasmine and Carol showed me what a (soon-to-be) successful entrepreneur looks like. All the women of JumpThru are all talented and ambitious, yet they still take the time to answer a question or consider each opinion. I noticed from day one that not only were the women I were working with willing to help me learn, but that they also listened to my ideas and were willing to learn from me. They say you learn the most from your mistakes, and thus I learned the most from the times when my ideas were simply acknowledged, transformed, or taken. I was able with that to learn and change my thought process, or where I was right and keep heading in that direction.
Pushing these women forward is the woman behind it all, Deborah Jackson. If JumpThru were a chocolate bar, her presences brings the office from a Heresy’s bar (still wonderfully delicious) to a cream-of-the-crop bar straight from the Swiss. Deborah Jackson is currently the founder or co-founder of Plum Alley, Women’s Innovate Mobile, JumpThru, My Tech Letter, and Blue Glue. Before that, she worked on Wall Street for twenty-one years, dabbled in some non-profit work, and spent some time as an angel investor. Then, she decided she wanted to help women succeed, in everything from entrepreneurship to technology to investing, and she set out to start the companies that would further this cause. At the WIM demo event in late June, Kelly Hoey (another amazing woman I am glad I had the ability to meet and work with), said, in reference to Deborah, “She’s who I want to be when I grow up.” I couldn’t agree more. Being able to work and learn from her this summer was simply amazing. Not only is she smart and ambitious, but she is inspirational and truly wants to help women succeed.
At the start of this internship, I knew very little about what it takes to start and run a company. Both of my parents are civil engineers, and they have basically been working at the same job their entire lives. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it led to me not knowing much about business or what other career paths looked like. Deborah and the other women at JumpThru changed this. From day one, I was exposed to the inner-workings of the companies in the WIM accelerator program and the behind the scenes of Plum Alley and JumpThru. I know I still have a lot to learn, but without this internship, I wouldn’t have even known what I was missing.
I still have a few weeks left, and I plan on soaking up as much as possible. But for now, thank you Deborah and the rest of JumpThru for giving me this opportunity.
-Erin Gillingham, Rising Senior at Columbia University majoring in Economics and Political Science