Students Building a Better Startup Ecosystem

Written by Molly Busch, Research Intern


“Why does your internship seem so fun?”

I’ve answered this question a few times throughout the summer from my friends working at various companies. The question came in response to hearing about my daily stories from the office such as playing VR video games, eating pancakes made from a 3D printer, starring in a startup promotional video, attending events such as the #MCShowcase17 and PULSE Finale, and going on a scavenger hunt around the city of Boston with a team of startups in our cohort.

All these activities are fun, but they’re just one part of my experience here at MassChallenge.

I spent the summer as a Research Intern at MassChallenge, where I examined the Boston innovation ecosystem and supported the Managing Director, Kiki Mills Johnston, in a variety of ways. I gained incredible experience on a daily basis by working with Kiki, a genuine and passionate leader. I also had the chance to create and complete a research project for MassChallenge, which I presented in a meeting with the MC staff.

As an intern class, we participated in lunch and learns that have helped each of us grow professionally and master things like negotiating, Excel, and financial planning —just to name a few. We’ve attended events where we heard from fascinating people in our Boston innovation community. Met countless new people including other interns, staff, and startups, all who bring varying perspectives and experiences into this vibrant office. And, most importantly, got to know startups in all different industries and from all around the world – something I was especially excited about as an International Relations major in college. It has been beyond exciting getting to know people who relocated their companies to Boston from countries such as Mexico, India, Israel, or Spain.

However, my experience at MassChallenge extends way beyond any individual work or bullets I can put on a resume. While talking to the other interns about their experiences this summer, a few main themes seemed to ring true across the entire organization:

  • The staff trusts their interns with significant responsibility
    As an intern, you don’t sit around making copies or getting coffees. Beth, an intern on the marketing team commented “I like that they don’t hold our hand through stuff, I’m expected to pull my weight on the team.” I heard the same sentiment expressed by interns in other departments over and over again. Most interns were surprised by the amount of responsibility, but also noted it as their favorite part of the experience.
     

  • Being part of a team
    The statement “I love being part of a team” is something I repeatedly hear from interns. One intern observed, “it’s so different from college—at school you’re working by yourself for yourself. Here you’re working with a team for your team and for the startups.” The concept of working with a team extends beyond just departments. Teamwork is company-wide.
     

  • Working in the same space with 128 startups
    With all the startups in and out of the accelerator space all day, it’s a great chance to meet startups in all different industries. Adrianna, an intern on the mentor relations team said one of her favorite parts of this internship is the fact that “startups work in the space, so it’s a tangible reminder of what we’re doing every day.” Interacting with startups every day and helping them with any problems their companies may be facing creates a vibrant and dynamic energy in the office.
     

  • Intern community
    There are a lot of interns at MassChallenge. One intern, Eric, who worked with the Industry Champion program mentioned how surprisingly quick our cohort of interns became close friends. The internship program is structured so that we have chances to get to know each other and work together on various projects. With opportunities to start our own initiatives, interns worked on group projects such as coordinating a series of office visits to our partner corporations and creating an internal blog for MassChallenge written from the intern perspective.


Overall, interning at MassChallenge has made for a great summer. Each intern has had a unique experience, and individual highlights from the summer go beyond the four briefly detailed above. I encourage any student looking for the chance to learn and to help startups win to check out MassChallenge internships here.