Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Annie Schmittgens

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, Annie Schmittgens, a junior majoring in Management/Entrepreneurship with a minor in Studio Art reflects on her internship experience at Spare to Share, an online private sharing network within residential buildings.

This summer, I worked for Spare to Share. Spare to Share is a community management tool that is in residential, coworking, and commercial buildings. They promote community and make communication easy between tenants and building managers.

I was on the social media, community engagement, and marketing team. I worked to spread the word about Spare to Share, and increase engagement with our customers. After getting to work, we would begin the day with a check in meeting to see what everyone was working on. I always dedicated a part of my day to complete social media research on prospective customers, then I would check our social media platforms, work on projects to engage our customers, and create a series of videos about Spare to Share and the summer intern team. I also had the opportunity to join the sales team and visit prospective customers. I got the chance to dabble in many different aspects of the company, which gave me many new opportunities and learning experiences.

After my summer working closely with a Chicago startup, I think my greatest learning experience was collaborating and playing multiple roles in the office, as this was the first time that I had an team of other interns to work with. The nine interns all had different major and minor backgrounds, but that didn’t prevent us from helping each other on our various projects. During my past two internships, I was the only intern. This meant that there was not much collaboration because I was given a project and I completed it the way that I thought made most sense. This summer, when I was given a project, I was able to discuss and work with my co-workers, making for a much richer experience and end result.

I would say that the most unexpected element of my internship was how hard I found it to market and sell a product that was not tangible and still in the process of being developed. This internship has affected me as an entrepreneur because it gave me insight into a different kind of business that I have not worked for before  – selling and marketing something that is not tangible. This was difficult because I found it hard to explain to our prospective customer what our product was, when I knew that it was changing and evolving.

After a summer working with Spare to Share what I enjoyed most was getting to know the other interns. I loved going to work to see them, and found so much joy in working with them on projects. What I’ll remember most is the people and the Level Office environment.

For any other students who are able to participate in an entrepreneurial internship I would say to stay open and do not be afraid to speak your mind and share your opinion. In a startup setting, everything is fast moving and sometimes it is hard to make your point, especially if everyone in the office is saying something different, but speak up! Your opinion does matter, your thoughts are valuable, and not sharing them is a disservice to the company you are working for. 

– Annie Schmittgens

Annie working at Spare to Share.

Annie working hard at Spare to Share.

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.