As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am currently one of thirteen students participating in the MacNest program at Macalester, where students are summer interns for a local Twin Cities startup for ten weeks as part of a one-credit internship. All of us reside in the Summit House on campus for the duration of the summer and are expected to to form a community where we share our knowledge and experiences organically.
What are your responsibilities?
As the intern to a four-person core team, I wear many different hats for my job. I began the first week of my internship with website design. Later, my responsibilities encompassed data mining (finding treatment professionals that deals with BFRBs), drafting emails for potential partnerships, and merging Excel sheets. (At one point, I got super excited about discovering new Excel equations to use.) One of my current ongoing responsibilities is shipping. I have now mastered most of the shipping process for the Keen bracelet, from unpacking the shipment from the supplier to packaging individual Keen bracelets for customers. Aside from that, I also help with social media accounts and several projects regarding business development.
Since my MacNest internship is done for academic credit, I am required to have an advisor for the duration of the summer. I genuinely love my academic advisor from my First Year Course, so my MacNest advisor is also the same professor (Patrick Schmidt, chair of the Political Science department at Macalester). As one of the agreements listed on my learning contract, I am required to send weekly reflections to Patrick via email - so I've decided to summarize some of the main points from the reflection emails below to mark the halfway point of my internship.
Partially due to my cultural upbringing and personality, one challenge that I always encounter is finding my voice in the workplace. In an academic and professional setting, I am easily intimidated by others' presence because I believe that others are more knowledgeable and have more valuable opinions than mine. As a result, I have been actively trying to be more assertive in myself by encouraging myself to speak up, initiate conversations, and ask questions. Aneela has been a great mentor for the past five weeks (and still is) and gave me great tips on being more confident in myself and my abilities.
Through conversations with Aneela, it’s interesting to note HabitAware as a business. While it is a for-profit business, the company was created with the BFRB community in mind since Aneela suffered from trichotillomania herself for years in the past. HabitAware walks a fine line between generating high profit and retaining some of the values and integrity of a non-profit. While the scholarship (in reference to a project in development) is a great way to give back to the community as a for-profit business, HabitAware can’t really ask for donors to contribute to a scholarship fund since we don’t operate in the same sense as a non-profit.
Objectively, week three has been uneventful. I was on Google Sheets most of the time, trying to figure out the more complex functions that the program offers. However, this past week also has shed some light into the time and effort that Aneela and the HabitAware team dedicate to the company. I inherited several spreadsheets with the information of numerous treatment professionals that may be interested in recommending the Keen bracelet to their patients. I had to combine the spreadsheets into one document and find new doctors in large metropolitan areas to add to the list. Updating spreadsheets seem boring and meaningless, but have a very specific purpose. HabitAware can reach out to healthcare professionals routinely and gradually increase its target audience. This task reminded me that each assignment (no matter how boring) has a purpose for the company.
Since testing Keen doesn’t require much brain energy and concentration, I have managed to strike up conversation with John, one of the members of the core team, for the majority of the week. One of my learning goals as part of the internship contract is to hold informational interviews, and I do think our conversations about his academic and career path was helpful in understanding the different ways that people come into their current jobs. Similarly, I’ve had more opportunities to talk to others on the team thanks to my commute. It’s through those 15-20 minute car rides that I try to ask questions that relate to the product, company, or a career field. Being in a work environment has catalyzed new conversations regarding my future post-graduation.
I was tasked with training a new member of the HabitAware team with the shipping process. As the summer intern and the youngest member of the team, I will be honest and say that it was a strange experience as the person with knowledge. Since it was my first time training someone, I wasn’t really sure how to begin but gave it my best shot anyway. In the end, I reached two conclusions/reflections. One, when I am in a place of authority or the person with knowledge, I should be confident in what I know and speak in a direct and articulate manner. Assertiveness remains one of the traits that I am trying to constantly improve. Two, everyone struggles with the tape dispenser, which made me feel better about my taping skills.
Overall, the first half of my internship at HabitAware has been filled with new experiences, learning new skills, and establishing new relationships. It has been really intriguing to see how a small startup operate behind-the-scenes and the effort that each member puts into the business in hopes of a successful future. I'm excited to see where the next five weeks will take me and how I will improve professionally at the end of the summer internship.
college student. junior. international studies major. over-the-top foodie. travel and lifestyle student blogger?
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