Taking Buzzfeed Quizzes Does Not an Internship Make

From what I can gather, the nature of internships is to provide interns with a project that spans over 2 months which, in actuality, takes about 2 hours to complete. This leaves interns free to troll Buzzfeed, Facebook, and just about every other time wasting site on the Internet. To be fair, the majority of my internship was not filled with time-wasting and the appearance of work. The majority of my internship was work, but there was an entire week during which I had absolutely no projects. I repeatedly asked by boss for something to do, and he afforded me the odd project during this week, but was not entirely up front about the lack of work. I think he just expected projects to take me longer. The other interns spent two days working on projects that took me half a day; because of the nature of my writing experience, I simply write and edit quickly. In the end, this week was not entirely wasted. I made sure to put my time to good use – I started teaching myself how to code using CodeAcademy and wrote articles for school newspaper. When having my final chat with my boss, I did let him know that while he did a good job giving me meaningful work rather than busy work, I would have appreciated if he had been more up front about the lack of work. Overall, I think I did all I could to use my time well. For that brief period of time without work, I made a point to ask my boss for work and make it clear that I had nothing to do. I also tried to make use of that time so it wouldn’t be a waste. From what I can gather from talking to my friends about their internships, they had far less work and were much more bored than I was. Plus, their work was often busy work rather than meaningful and useful work. As for other challenges, I really do not think there were any. The other interns were a pleasure to work with, and my boss was helpful and provided very clear instructions and expectations.


Proactive Influence and the Founding of Endeavor

Linda Rottenberg, founder and CEO of Endeavor, is known as “La Chica Loca” in many parts of South America and the Middle East. In founding Endeavor, Rottenberg was pitching what was then a revolutionary idea: supporting entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Most people doubted that such entrepreneurs even existed, but after spending time in Latin America Rottenberg knew that the talent existed, and that these aspiring entrepreneurs merely needed the resources to encourage their success.

In Chapter 5 of Jay Conger and Ronald Riggio’s The Practice of Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders, the authors outline the means with which leaders can convince others to follow them. Dubbed “proactive influence,” Conger and Riggio list rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, consultation, and collaboration as key tools for any leader.

When reflecting on the start of Endeavor, it is clear that Rottenberg utilized all of these techniques to convince others to support her revolutionary, “loca” idea.

Rationally, Endeavor made sense. Rottenberg was able to show that this talent existed, and the model made sense in terms of sustainability as well as financially. In terms of inspirational appeals, Rottenberg realized that many professionals were looking for more out of their work. This was an amazing opportunity for talented individuals to change the world for the better without sacrificing a challenging, business-oriented environment.

As Endeavor became more than just the dream of “La Chica Loca,” Rottenberg allowed the founding members to have significant input. From what I have gathered, many of Endeavor’s trademarks – everything from the term “high-impact” to “entrepreneurial ecosystem” are the creation of Rottenberg and her initial team. By allowing people to have a say, Rottenberg allowed them to have more of a stake in Endeavor. This is also reflected in the way regional offices are run; although these offices have to report to Endeavor Global here in New York, they are allowed a significant degree of independence. Each regional office has its own manager, and is run as this manager sees fit. This allows for the office to create its own culture, and again allows employees to have more of a stake in the company. It is very important for leaders to make their employees feel valued and like they have a say in what goes on.

Finally, collaboration is key. Although Rottenberg was one of two co-founders of Endeavor, the operation is very much dependent on the collaboration of a wide variety of leaders and stakeholders, and without this collaboration Endeavor would not be where it is today.

Rottenberg exhibits many of the “best practices” of leadership as defined by Conger and Riggio. As the leader of Endeavor, she exudes a “proactive influence” in a way that makes people want to follow her lead.

Communication Culture in a Modern Office

Endeavor’s open office means that communication is often face-to-face. This has aided greatly in communication; rather than having to email my supervisor or fellow interns, I can simply walk up to them and ask any questions in person.

Quick side note: the featured image is a very cool Magritte painting called “The Empire of Light II.” Saw it at the MOMA this weekend!

Anyway,  in terms of collaboration, the open office has proved a great advantage. I find that trying to work with others and explain things via email is often frustrating and leads to miscommunication.

Although everyone certainly utilizes email and other technology, the face-to-face aspect of work makes it much more enjoyable. Having actual conversations in person makes for a much better time than emailing and spending the entire day on the Internet. While email and technology is important, I think modern offices should seek to create this open environment, where employees have the option of privacy via phone booths and conference rooms but in general are not confined to being alone. I think the happiness as well as productivity of the office is enhanced by this real-life interaction.

This is definitely not something I would have thought about prior to working at Endeavor. I would have focused on the mission of the organization rather than the culture of the office, and the unique Endeavor culture has definitely made me realize that a significant portion of job satisfaction is dependent on the “culture” and environment of the office.

On that note, I will definitely be looking for an organization with a culture similar to Endeavor. I like that people are engaged with each other while still utilizing technology in doing their work. I like that people work hard while still enjoying their day, and it seems as if the actual work being done is interesting and rewarding.

Overall, I think the communication style at Endeavor is ideal for a modern office. Everyone is certainly connected and the Internet and technology play key roles in the office, but people still take the time to collaborate and work together in person. I always notice the full-time employees in the conference rooms, often for long spans of time, working on a white board rather than a computer and with no other technology in sight. I think this mixture of technology and face-to-face interaction and collaboration is ideal and contributes to employee satisfaction.

Positivity and Independence: Promoting Internal Motivation

My supervisor is an incredibly positive individual, to the point where I initially took his tone as patronizing but soon realized he was being genuine in his praise.

I am not sure if it is because the sheer volume of interns he oversees or because of his working style, but my supervisor tends to leave interns to work independently. I really enjoy this independence; my supervisor will provide clear instructions for a project and then allow me to work on my own. He asks for very reasonable deadlines and encourages interns to work hard but also allows everyone to work at their own pace, particularly when writing is involved.

I love the positivity of my supervisor, as well as the independence he provides. It creates an environment where people are internally rather than externally motivated, yet are praised for working hard.

This is definitely similar to my own leadership style. I think I have more trouble letting go and allowing people to work independently, but I am working on trusting team members more and delegating. As for positivity, I am positive but also honest, and feel that my supervisor is the same way.

As a whole, this environment is ideal for me because it fits how I work as well as how I lead.

DoSomething: Do What Exactly?

This week, I got a sneak peek of what my summer might have been.

This past April, as I was applying for internships with a do-good focus but with an emphasis on practical skills and projects, I stumbled across “DoSomething,” an organization that utilizes social media in an effort to get kids and teens involved in social issues.

I considered applying for the job, since it looked like a fun environment with the potential to meet a lot of other interns. But once I found out I’d gotten the job at Endeavor, I stopped filling out applications.

This week, the Endeavor interns trooped the 5 blocks to the DoSomething office for a presentation our CEO was giving to their interns. I walked in to find an open office filled with inspiration boards and yoga balls instead of chairs. The office vibe was young and excited, but I also got the sense that it was a bit disorganized.

Our Endeavor CEO, Linda, provided the DoSomething interns with a brief explanation of what Endeavor does and how she came to create the organization. Our interns received the same presentation a week before.

The DoSomething interns proceeded to ask Linda about her personal life rather than the business. Although her personal life is certainly relevant to understanding the organization, knowing how she met her husband isn’t exactly necessary or appropriate to ask.

The Endeavor interns, meanwhile, had asked nearly an hour’s worth of questions about the Endeavor operation. We wanted to know everything about financing, hiring, selection, and then a little bit about Linda’s life that related to the organization. To be fair, we work at Endeavor and therefore have more insight into the organization, but still, I want to be surrounded by people who are curious about how this unique operation functions rather than how our CEO met her husband.

The entire encounter made me realize how much I appreciated the Endeavor office. The environment is young, certainly, and shares the same enthusiasm that the DoSomething office has, but the people working here are much more thoughtful and pragmatic in their approach to our “do-gooder” work.

A number of interns made jokes about the “DoSomething” office “doing what exactly?” Social media campaigns are absolutely necessary and are perhaps the best way to reach today’s young people, but it is my personal opinion that social organizations need to partner awareness with actual solutions to problems.

Endeavor is such a great organization because it seeks to approach a social issue in a way that seeks to be most effective. Our CEO, Linda, even mentioned that she recruits employees from the top business schools, because talent is an absolute must in running a successful organization.

I also love the environment of the office in general. Everyone works hard, but also is extremely independent. Nobody is constantly watching over me, and people often leave early if they finish their work. The environment places responsibility in the individual; the assumption is that you are doing your work and know when you need to stay late or when you can leave early.

The expected dress is also fairly casual but pulled-together. Again, people have a lot of freedom because everyone knows how to dress nicely but in a casual manner. I think this work environment is ideal for me. I like the freedom because I am already very self-motivated, and knowing that everyone else is working hard but not necessarily being competitive is, for me, far more motivating than being constantly watched over or competing with my fellow employees.

As a whole, I think Endeavor is exactly the type of organization that I want to work at someday. The employees are all very driven, smart people who want to make a positive change in the world.

Debunking Incubators and Moving Beyond the Start-Up Obsession

The Endeavor network provides a unique opportunity for research. Endeavor has access to thousands of high-performing entrepreneurs around the world, which is an ideal sample for research on entrepreneurship.

Thus, Insight has the ability to publish new, relevant, and high-quality research on trends in entrepreneurship. We have reported on everything from the top things that entrepreneurs look for in a city to the innovative programs that countries around the world are installing to promote entrepreneurship.

As part of Insight, I increase the publication capabilities of the team. Currently, I am researching incubators and accelerators. This project is important because very little research has been conducted in this field, and thus Endeavor has the opportunity to be one of the first researchers on the topic.

The entire purpose of our Insight branch is to inform policymakers and other leaders how they can best support their local entrepreneurs. This includes identifying what works and what doesn’t. my work on incubators and accelerators is important because setting up these companies has become a popular trend; often, local governments or universities will seek to stimulate local economic growth by setting up an incubator program. What we have found is that this is not necessarily the most effective way to promote growth; rather, the number of accelerators seems to far exceed the demand for their services.

Most accelerators cited finding quality companies for their program as the primary challenge they face. this means that the services the accelerators provide may not be entirely necessary or in demand, and in some cases it means accelerators will be promoting companies that are not necessarily going to be supported by the market.

This research is important for local policymakers because they can then make informed decisions based on what works and what doesn’t; in this case, setting up an accelerator or an incubator may not be the most effective way to promote economic growth. The implications for Endeavor are also important, as Endeavor promotes entrepreneurship at later stages of the company, and based on our metrics this seems to be far more effective in terms of long-term growth than promoting companies in the start-up phase.

Even if my actual report turns out not to be valuable, the data I have collected can be an asset to the company. I have reached out to over 100 incubators and accelerators, and that data can be used in the future as well as for current reporting. This information is also part of a very small pool of data collected on incubators and accelerators, and therefore is even more of an asset to the company.

Overall, I have allowed Endeavor to conduct projects that may not be a priority because they are not imperative to day-to-day operations, but that is still an important piece of work for the company.

Week 1 in Internship Heaven

I think I’m in internship heaven.

On my first day, my boss not only allowed but actually encouraged my fellow interns and me to take a 2 hour lunch to “get to know each other.” After a fantastic and fantastically expensive lunch in the city that never sleeps, I returned to a project that seemed perfectly tailored to my interests.

My team and I were charged with editing a report on the history of Silicon Valley, which Endeavor had used to explore how such a flourishing industry developed in such an unlikely place.

As part of the Endeavor Insight team, I research and report on trends related to entrepreneurship. This can range from the history of Silicon Valley to the tendency of entrepreneurs at Endeavor’s fastest-growing companies to have learned about entrepreneurship from practical experience.

Endeavor publishes short pieces in a newsletter format in addition to longer reports, with the intent of informing policymakers about trends in the field so that they can be informed about how best to support local  entrepreneurs.

I think this is my dream job.

Seriously, everyone here is very smart and committed, and the way that Endeavor goes about making the world a better place is all about pragmatism, which I very much appreciate. The world needs smarter do-gooders, not necessarily more of them.

Plus, the Endeavor entrepreneurs themselves are amazing. I read interviews with some of the most successful of the entrepreneurs today, and each and every one of them has an amazing and unique success story, yet Endeavor is a shared and key factor in their success.

My goals for the summer are to continue to develop my professional skills. I have already learned how to make infographics, which will prove handy no matter what I choose to go in to, as well as to write long and professional reports.

In addition to these practical skills, I hope to continue to connect to my fellow interns. So far, they have all proved very interesting individuals.

I also want to see if this is a career path I might be interested. As of today, I would kill for the opportunity to work here, and I have a feeling I won’t change my mind about that.

My tangible goals for the summer are:

1- Have the ability to compile a formal report (in the Insight format) from start to finish

2- Learn how to use as many technology features as possible, with a minimum of at least 2 new skills to put on my resume that relate to research – this can include MailMerge (just learned that today!), Salesforce, etc.

Off to a great start!

Endeavor and Entrepreneurship in the Big Apple