Behind the Scenes: Startup Internship Program

By November 11, 2013 Blog, Here at CORE No Comments

At a time when entrepreneurship is hailed as the Next Big Thing, and everyone secretly envisions themselves as an undiscovered, underappreciated Steve Jobs in the making, there is a kind of romance in the idea of working at a startup. During his talk on campus a month ago, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, enthusiastically urged the audience to intern at a startup. Working at a startup is glorified as something rewarding, meaningful, characterized by unfettered independence. Which college student wouldn’t want that?

Interning at a startup is all of that, but also more complex and multi-faceted. Now, Columbia students (including freshmen) will have an opportunity to try it out for themselves through the Columbia Startup Internship Program jointly organized by the Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs and the Centre for Career Education. Expand the provision of medical services online. Revolutionize the online dating industry for couples and singles alike. Transform your community. The possibilities are limitless.

“It’s often hard for students to find the right startup to intern at,” Tanay Jaipura, leader of a 6-person team from CORE organizing the program, shared. “Startups could be hit and miss, and it may be hard to identify the good opportunities. We wanted to streamline the process.”

The CSIP is a 12-week long internship during the spring semester, and offers technical and non-technical internships with 15 startups that run the gamut from finance to fashion. “This program follows a similar model of CCIA, VIP and CAE in that in provides a great deal of support and resources to both students and employers in order to help everyone have a successful outcome in the program,” Heather Perceval, associate dean of Experiential Education and Student Enterprises at CCE, explained.

Tanay was inspired to helm this program after his own experience interning at a couple of startups, including Clothes Horse, one of the participating startups. “At a startup, things change a lot more quickly. You will rarely have a defined role, so you’ll be wearing many hats. The scale of a startup also means you will have a greater impact on the eventual product.” Many of his team members had also interned at startups before, and used their connections to bring the startups on board.

This is part of CCE’s effort to create new opportunities in entrepreneurship. They had previously organized the spring semester Startup Career Fair and An Evening with Jack Dorsey. “Much of the increased focus on entrepreneurship has been jointly driven by the burgeoning NYC startup community and their need for talent, and a shift in student interest away from more traditional careers towards the faster-paced more innovative world of startups,” Patrick Smith, senior associate director of Employer and Alumni Relations at CCE.

In the future, Columbia students can look forward to an expanded CSIP with more startups involved, more semesters covered, and a heavier emphasis on community-bonding within the interns.

Interested in finding out more? Check out our webpage, or attend the info session on 14 November 8-9pm, at East Campus 2nd floor lounge. Representatives from the startups would be present and raffling free goodies.

by Lim Jia Ying, Columbia College, Class of 2017