I got involved with InternMatch in a sudden manner. My first few months in Seattle I would revisit the chain of events that brought me here every now and then, sometimes after rolling off my bed (aka futon), or as I would try and call friends back on the East coast after working late only to realize it was 2 am EST. When I finished school at the University of Pennsylvania, I had been accepted to a great law school and was looking forward to attending. I talked with Andrew my friend since 2nd grade and CEO of InternMatch, and he exuded energy and excitement when talking about moving to Seattle and diving into his new company. I decided to come on board and to throw myself fully at the effort, planning on working for InternMatch for just one summer to get a taste of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. However, after three months both the lifestyle and the company had me hooked.
The lifestyle of entrepreneurship is a series of challenges and pushes one to learn quickly or to plummet. Honestly, it makes school feel like child’s play, the amount you can and have to learn in a single day is absolutely mind numbing. The lifestyle can be hectic and stressful, but despite the struggles, the highs are always much greater, as in no other business is it so easy to watch oneself grow (kind of like a personal growth stock ticker). In retrospect I realize I have had a tendency to put myself into similar situations throughout my life, whether it was joining my high school wrestling team as a freshman with no experience or deciding to join my uncle and four other crew members sailing a 50 ft. boat to the tip of the North Eastern Canadian coastline, also with no experience.
I have always been happiest in these situations because they force you to improve yourself both through failure and careful thought.å The first time I tried putting together lunch on a rocking sailboat it was not pretty, and the first time I made a sales call for InternMatch, well it was not too pretty either. But, in both situations there was no getting off the boat, and so the failure becomes a learning experience, and eventually success. This grow or go home environment simply makes me feel alive.
As for InternMatch itself, it got me hooked for two major reasons: one a platform of this type is so badly needed by both students and organizations and two because of a personal experience in my first internship that I took on when I was in high school. I think the first reason is very important; however, for now I would like to share the story of the second. As a senior in high school I got to work as an intern at the National Parks Conservation Association.åOn my first day I was talking to my boss and friend Jim Nations, and he asked me if I knew what I wanted to study in school. I had no idea, but he responded “It does not matter whether you become an environmental activist, or a businessman or a lawyer, what I hope you have at the end of this internship is a passion for the environment and the national parks.” This statement stuck with me because for a long time I struggled trying to reconcile my joy for the outdoors with my own dissonance with the characteristics required to be a devoted environmentalist. For me, my first internship at the NPCA helped me understand and internalize a passion for the environment and to realize that no matter where the job world led me, this fondness of our national parks would be right there beside me. I believe the more students that get involved in more internships with a wider variety of organizations and missions, the better people will be able to connect the dots of the work/life balance that is becoming increasingly important in our society.
Right now as internships have become more pervasive (they are nearly a prerequisite to success in the job world) competition is increasing. However, I see a large benefit in this increased competition as it encourages students (and professionals) to explore a greater diversity of opportunities and new roads off the beaten path.åÊ I see InternMatch as not only a needed platform in connecting capable and skilled students with a diversity of businesses and organizations in need of such help, but also as a facilitator of exploration into new skills and jobs during crucial collegiate years and beyond.