Tag Archives: Polsky Center

Booth Beginnings: My Pre-MBA Entrepreneurial Internship

Andrew Edelman is a first year MBA student at Booth from Boston, MA.  He graduated from Davidson College, where he captained the men’s swimming team, and then worked in investment banking and alternative investment management. At Booth, he plans on pursuing concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Strategic Management.  He and his wife are expecting their second son any day now and are looking forward to actually being able to sleep again one day in the distant future.  He enjoys keeping up-to-date on the latest tech trends, playing beach volleyball, and trying out local craft breweries. Follow him on Twitter (@AceEdelman)!
Below, Andrew shares his pre-MBA internship experience with a Booth-founded startup. While pre-MBA internships are neither coordinated by Booth nor necessary to successfully make a big career shift, Andrew took advantage of some free time in Chicago this summer to get some entrepreneurship and marketing experience as part of his professional development at Booth.
Immediately after attending Admit Weekend this past April, my mind was made up.  Blown away by the impressive faculty, successful students, and stunning Harper Center facilities, I decided to forever alter my career path and accept my admission to Chicago Booth.  With that choice came the quick realization that it meant leaving my finance job where I had just been promoted and moving my family from Charlotte to Chicago.  However, these were minor sacrifices to make given the endless opportunities Booth offers for someone like me looking to make a big career change from finance to tech.
To give my pregnant wife, two-year old son, and myself time to settle into our new city before Autumn quarter, I decided to resign from my job a little early to move out to the Midwest.  Wanting to spend my summer doing a little more than eating deep dish pizza and drinking Goose Island beer on one of the many gorgeous beaches along Lake Michigan, I began searching for an internship that could broaden my perspective and further enhance my skill set.
I made a connection with Tricia Felice, a rising second-year student at Booth who was participating in the Polsky Center Accelerator Program, which gives ten student teams the opportunity to work on their businesses during the summer in a collaborative and dynamic environment.  Needing help with business development and marketing for her startup, Vintage, Tricia was eager to have an incoming Boothie join her small team.  As an aspiring career switcher hoping to transition from financial services to the tech industry, it was a unique opportunity to work at a startup and begin developing new skills before even going to my first class.
Vintage brings generations together through storytelling by creating professionally edited “vignettes” to capture the best moments and memories of older adults and celebrate their legacies.  I was tasked with leading efforts in “business development,” something with which I had little experience.  In this context, I developed a keen understanding of our target market and created a well-defined product offering.  I also worked on bringing additional exposure to Vintage through online marketing and beat-the-pavement sales tactics.  Part of this exercise involved my first real exposure to search engine optimization (SEO) and Google AdWords, which was a great learning experience.
One of the things I loved most about working for an early stage startup was the opportunity to be intimately involved in shaping the direction of the company.  Throughout the summer, I was able to give my opinion about the business or our approach to a certain task and not only have it be heard, but be influential.  I strongly suspect this is a feeling I will become quite accustomed to during my two years at Booth as there are a plethora of opportunities to generate significant impact, from participating in Management Lab to joining the Graduate Business Council. I was just elected President of the Davis Cohort, so I am looking forward to making an impact on student life as well.
The support these startups received as part of the Polsky Center Accelerator Program was also extremely impressive.  Teams received funding, office space, access to Polsky Center staff, coaching from faculty (including Waverly Deutsch and Bob Rosenberg), and mentorship from alumni entrepreneurs and Chicago-area investors.  My favorite part of the summer program was weekly teach-in sessions with area entrepreneurs, which really showcased Booth’s success developing entrepreneurial talent.  We met in small groups with Matt Maloney (’10), the Founder and CEO of GrubHub, and Jon Morris (’05), the Founder and CEO of Rise Interactive, both of whom started their companies through the New Venture Challenge while at Booth.  We also had access to 1871, the preeminent co-working space in Chicago that provides startups with programming, educational resources, space, and access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
This pre-MBA internship was a rare opportunity to develop my skills in an environment that fostered creativity while jump-starting my Booth experience.  I’m starting classes this week with a strong understanding of the resources available to entrepreneurs on campus, a growing network of current students and alumni, and additional hands-on experience that will contribute to my career aspirations.  Plus, I learned how to navigate via public transit down to Hyde Park—I will be my class’s expert on the differences between the express and local trains!  Overall, in addition to a transformative pre-MBA professional experience, I was able to enjoy a wonderful summer exploring all that Chicago has to offer.

Challenging Everything: A Boothie’s Bogotá VC Internship Experience

William K. Lee is a rising second-year student at Chicago Booth. This summer he was an intern at Polymath Ventures, an innovative company builder in Bogotá, Colombia, and he shares some of his experiences in this interview. Prior to Booth, he worked as a software engineer for Bay Area Internet companies including eBay and Wikia. He came to Booth because he wanted to shift to the business and management sides of technology, so his summer internship gave him a great opportunity to practice the high-level skills he has developed in business school. Moreover, the opportunity allowed him to step out of his comfort zone and tackle new challenges in a new place. Will is active in the entrepreneurship scene at Booth and in Chicago and is a Co-Chair of the Booth Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Group (EVC) for this coming year. Outside of school, Will is training for October’s Chicago Marathon (his sixth) and enjoys playing bar trivia with other Boothies.

–Matt Richman
Where did you work this summer and what was your role?
I worked in Bogotá, Colombia, at Polymath Ventures. Polymath designs and builds companies from the ground up that serve the needs of the middle class in emerging markets. This summer I was a technology advisor and product manager for one of Polymath’s companies, Táximo. Táximo is trying to reinvent the taxi industry in Latin America by making the customer experience safer and more convenient.
What are some resources you took advantage of at Booth that helped you land the job?
The Entrepreneurship concentration at Booth was instrumental in securing my summer internship. I first heard about the job opportunity from the newsletter of the Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Group. Once I got the offer, I turned to the Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) from Booth’s Polsky Center for further assistance. EIP offers grants to students like me who want to work at cash-strapped startups.
What was the highlight of your summer internship?
I was in charge of hiring a software developer. At first I tried the regular recruiting channels, such as posting on job websites, but they proved fruitless. The next step I took really threw me out of my comfort zone. I went to several software engineering Meetups in Bogotá in order to meet talented developers in person. I planned on attending just the events’ networking sessions, but I ended up participating in the interactive Spanish-language portions, too. Imagine trying to talk about Big Data with just high-school level Spanish! Nevertheless I am glad I got to experience these Meetups not just because they helped with recruiting but because they informed me about the startup scene in Colombia and connected me with tech entrepreneurs.


Will attending a tech Meetup at a Bogotá co-working space
Were there any transformative aspects of the experience that will help you structure your final year at Booth?
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working closely with company founders to advise them on technology issues. I liked drawing on my technical background and also pushing myself to think strategically. I would like to have a role like this after I graduate from Booth. This could be partnering with an entrepreneur for a startup or serving as advisor-in-residence at a startup incubator or accelerator. In my final year at Booth, I plan on participating in entrepreneurial activities and taking many entrepreneurship and general management courses, such as New Venture Strategy.
How was your Spanish before the internship? 
I studied Spanish for four years in high school, but it was very rusty when I landed in Colombia. This wasn’t a problem for work because my colleagues used English in the office. Still, I tried to improve my Spanish. I got involved in Spanish-English language exchanges and listened to podcasts. Now it’s pretty good—yesterday I tuned into a Spanish radio station and understood an announcement for a supermarket sale!
Did you get a chance to explore Bogotá and Colombia? What was your favorite experience outside of work?
Bogotá had a host of things to do this summer. I enjoyed going out into my neighborhood and discovering nice restaurants, hole-in-the-wall eateries, cafes, and bars. I also ran a lot this summer for marathon training, so I got to explore many parks and districts on foot. I created a Google map of my favorite places, which was a big hit around the office. I tried to break out of the city’s large expat scene by meeting locals through various channels. They were very friendly and invited me to special events like a wine expo and an outdoor rock festival. My favorite experience of the summer was spending a weekend in Medellín, Colombia’s second city. I enjoyed its fantastic weather, met its outgoing people, and reveled in its vibrant nightlife.
Will and another Polymath intern sampling some reds at a wine expo in Bogotá
How did your first year at Booth help you get the most out of your summer?
When I decided to pursue my summer internship at Polymath in Colombia, I took the Booth motto of “Challenge Everything” to heart. In my work, I used skills I developed in my first year coursework to perform extensive analysis on every claim I encountered. My colleagues appreciated the level of rigor I applied to my job. At a higher level, I challenged myself by taking the risk of working in an emerging market that I had known little about. The safe move would have been working for a startup in the Bay Area, where I’d lived for most of my life, where I planned to return after Booth, and where I would have formed connections seemingly more beneficial for my short-term goals. But conversations with faculty, second-year students, and industry professionals that I met on Booth-organized career treks helped me see that a summer in Colombia could be just as rewarding. I’m glad I chose Bogotá. Not only was it a unique life experience, it opened my eyes to the business opportunities there and gave me insights into entrepreneurship that will serve me well in my career (and which you can read about here).