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Austin Ellingwood ’18 Programming and Customer Success with Startup

This summer, I was given the opportunity to work for a startup company called Handshake, in Palo Alto, California. The house I am staying in is a multi-million dollar mansion, with guys from various Ellingwood1schools in Michigan. The two other interns are a couple of all around good guys from Wake Forest.  I have been helping with the Customer Success team, which involves helping out customers in a support role, testing out bugs, and aiding every team member in any way I can. I am learning new programming languages every day, so that by the end of the summer, I will be fixing bugs in the code. Until then, I will aid the Customer Success team in their day-to-day tasks. I have learned a great deal about small businesses in my short time here, and I am eager to learn more.

The life of a startup is a busy one. With less than 30 employees, and many schools trying to get on board with Handshake, there is little time for breaks. I spend most of my days in either the office, or various coffee shops around Palo Alto. I am enjoying the busy days full of work and full of pressure to get things done on time and with great quality.

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One of my favorite parts about working for Handshake is the environment that I get to work in. Every employee is very supportive, and any criticism I receive is constructive. I enjoy working for Handshake because they appreciate all the work I do, which I think is partly due to the fact that it is a startup. I interact with the CEO on a daily basis, by either IM, or face-to-face, which is very unique to small businesses. I am excited for the future of Handshake.  

Joel Paquin ’16 Semler Financial Crash Course

Paquin1My experience at Semler with Craig Demaree ’02 has taught me things that will no doubt help me when I graduate next year. With a focus on retirement planning, the advisers at Semler Financial Group took me in and gave me a crash course on what retirement and retirement planning looks like.  Although retirement is a long ways away for an upcoming graduate like myself, I am quickly learning the importance of saving. I’ve been exposed to countless illustrations that show the importance of starting to save early, and how the growth that those savings accumulate translate in

to policy at retirement age. The immediate take home message that I get working at Semler, is to start saving EARLY.

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Here at Semler I am kept busy most of the time learning the ins and outs of retirement planning. When I’m not seeing the financial side, I am seeing the business side. Often I get to meet people and sit in on client meetings to actually see what people do to set up their retirement.

Even if I don’t pursue this line of work when I graduate, the things I’ve learned here will apply to me regardless. I am set up to be a great saver once I start working. I’d like

to thank everyone here at Semler Financial Group and the Wabash College Small Business Internship Fund for giving me this opportunity.

 

Alan Ortiz ’17 Hands on Experience

 

alan ortiz 2           Working for Erik Ness ’94 has been a hands on learning experience. Since the day I started at Commodity Transportation Services in Phoenix, Arizona, I have learned an array of things. During these last three weeks, I have gained experience in dealing with insurance issues between firms, made a near infinite amount of phone calls to carriers across the nation, and successfully managed to stay employed.  This internship turned out to be nothing like I expected. Since day one I was handed significant responsibilities and I was trusted to assist the dispatchers in our office to ensure that loads, some worth up to $50,000, did not have difficulties. At first, this was an overwhelming task, because I had never done anything like this in my life. However, with the help of the staff at CTS, I was able to get the hang of the job fairly quickly.

The staff here at CTS has been extremely gracious and patient with me over these first few weeks. They are always willing to help and I learn new things from them every single day. They are a great team, and I feel privileged to be able to work at an office where everyone trusts each other and are always willing to help with anything. The office is always busy. We are constantly answering phone calls and trying to make sure that every order is perfect. On average, I make approximately one hundred calls each day split between speaking to brokers, truckers, insurance companies, and many different distribution centers serving Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs across the nation. I have also made many appointments so that truckers can both pick up and deliver their produce loads. This is often extremely challenging, because the people on the other side of the phone are sometimes unwilling to help, but we manage to get everything done.

alan ortizThe three weeks that I have worked here have shown me that I like the freight brokerage business and that I could see myself potentially pursuing a career as a broker. Everything is a possibility, but I feel that this is something that I can do for a few years after college. My plan is to eventually get an MBA, and I feel that everything I am learning in this internship would potentially help me to do so. I would like to thank everyone here at Commodity Transportation Services, as well the Small Business Internship Fund, for making this experience possible.

Doug Baker ’15 – San Francisco Operations

In my last summer before I join the real world, I have been interning at PROFUSA in San Francisco, California thanks to the Small Business Internship Fund. Before I got to Wabash I had worked for a small business, but this is my first experience with a startup. I was initially interested in PROFUSA out of a desire to expand knowledge I had gained while working for IT Services at Wabash. After talking to a fraternity brother who had interned at the company the year before (Taylor Neal), I was all-in.

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From left to right: Doug Baker ’15, Michael Miller ’16, Khurram Tahir ’01, Terrence Zhou ’17, and Adam Boehm ’15

I primarily work with the Director of Operations, and have spent a lot of my time developing tools to increase efficiency and collaboration at the company. The primary component of this has been my involvement with SharePoint. This is a service and program offered by Microsoft that can be used to build intranet structures for companies. Initially, I was tasked with developing protocols and understanding the programs that are used to shape the SharePoint environment. These include InfoPath and SharePoint Designer, which allow for more customization than the web-only SharePoint options. Since the company had no experience with the platform, I was on my own in week one.

Since then, I have been able to develop new ways to host and work with data and documents the company generates. Since most of the things are confidential, I also have to ensure that only the required people can access the information. Learning how to create and assign permissions, as well as building workflows to manage the contents of our SharePoint, has been a huge challenge. Once I became more comfortable with the processes involved, groups have started to ask about using the platform for more applications. InfoPath allows for the creation of forms with data fields that link to databases, which makes it very useful for managing our data. Because this allows for so many possibilities, educating people at PROFUSA about all of the potential is now my biggest challenge.

Another large project I have undertaken has been evaluating our options for document control. Since PROFUSA is a medical device company, they have to follow strict guidelines in their operations. One of these is ensuring they are Title 21 CFR Part 11 compliant. Before my time here I thought document control simply meant making sure things are saved but not available to the public, but I’ve since gained an appreciation for the requirements that help prevent mistakes in our nation’s healthcare products.

Without an internship or job, I certainly would not have been able to spend my summer in California in the first place. While here, I am trying to experience as much of the area as I can, taking numerous trips around the city or to the surrounding area. Despite only taking around 40 hours to make it to the west coast (my fiancée helped drive), I had time to stop at Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park, and Devil’s Tower. We took a short break in Eugene, Oregon to watch the Pre Classic, the fastest track meet on American soil (we saw 2 American records and 11 world leads). Afterwards, we drove down the Oregon and California coasts.

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PROFUSA interns hard at work

Since arriving in San Francisco, we have been busy with work and exploration. I can comfortably say I’ve done nearly every tourist-type thing I should here. My favorite so far has been our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but that may soon get overtaken. Bay-area interns were recently invited to a barbeque by Daren Courter ’89, a Wabash alum from Anderson, Indiana. We spent most of the day there, and have been invited to go abalone diving in a few weeks. Many Wabash graduates in the area have gone out of their way to make our experience as rewarding as possible, highlighted by Khurram Tahir ’01 providing us an endless supply of places to eat. I’m not tired of driving by the Golden Gate Bridge, going to the ocean, or seeing the mountains, but I am starting to miss cornfields and basketball hoops.

Adam Boehm ’15 – West Coast Chemist

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Adam Boehm ’15 – Enjoying working in the lab as a Chemistry Intern

Adam Boehm ’15 - I cannot express enough gratitude for the opportunities I have had this summer thanks to the Small Business Internship Fund.  When I first discovered the posting for a chemistry intern with PROFUSA, Inc. in San Francisco, I never expected I would be offered the position and spend my summer in California.  As a premed student, I was looking for a summer opportunity that would help me gain experience in the medical field, and PROFUSA has provided me just that.  PROFUSA is a small startup biomedical device company specializing in creating sensors that can monitor real-time body chemistries non-invasively.  I had no idea what this meant for me as a chemistry intern, and it took several weeks for me to fully grasp what I was doing.

My day typically begins at 7:30 as my fellow interns, Doug Baker and Terrence Zhou, get ready to make the 20-minute drive from our apartment near Lake Merced to PROFUSA in South San Francisco.  I spend the majority of my day in the lab working on various projects I have been assigned for the summer.  The details of some of these projects are proprietary to PROFUSA and cannot be discussed, but that just makes my job more exciting.  The two main projects I have been working on are testing how different pore sizes for the smart-sensing hydrogels affect their performance, and creating different types of skin phantoms for in vitro studies.  Both projects have required a lot of research and learning on my part.  With the skin phantom project, I am working on creating silicone molds that mimic the optical properties of human skin (absorbance, fluorescence, scattering, etc.).  Using combinations of different dyes, I have been able to create formulas for phantoms that represent both oxygenated and deoxygentated hemoglobin.  After each formulation is made, I use different machines in the lab to get the phantom’s absorbance and fluorescence to compare to real hemoglobin.

In addition to the microplate readers I use for absorbance scans, I have also learned how to use other lab equipment such as SEM, YSI, BGA, and the laser cutter at UCSF.  The chemistry team has been remarkably helpful in teaching me lab protocol and procedures.  Everyone is great to be around, which makes for a very fun work environment.  The great thing about working for a startup company is that every task, no matter how seemingly small, plays a large role in the progress and growth of the company.  I truly feel like I have been able to make a great contribution to PROFUSA.

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Adam Boehm ’15 and his brother Brian pose at Glacier Point with a view of Half Dome and Nevada Falls at Yosemite National Park

This summer has not been all work, though.  The drive across the country was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had.  I took six days to drive from Indiana, through St. Louis, Denver, made a stop in Moab, UT to see Arches National Park, stayed a night at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and drove along the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  Now that I’m settled in my apartment I spend most of my free time exploring San Francisco and the surrounding areas.  I live within walking distance to the beach and it’s only a 10-minute drive to get downtown.  In addition to several Giants games, and a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I’ve made a weekend trip to Yosemite, Sequoia National Forest, and went horseback riding at the bottom of King’s Canyon.  We already have our tickets for a tour of Alcatraz and Angel Island, and have a trip planned with alumnus Daren Courter ’89 to go camping and Abalone diving in Ft. Bragg.

This has been one of the best experiences of my life living on the West Coast and working for PROFUSA.  I again want to thank the SBIF for making this all possible.  As great as this summer has been, I will be ready for the cross-country drive back home to see my friends and family in mid-August.

Miller ’16 Critical Thinking in PROFUSA Lab

Michael Miller ’16 - This summer I am the Biology Intern in College Station, Texas for PROFUSA Corp. PROFUSA Corp. is a company, based out of San Francisco, California that makes medical prototypes. Here in Texas, we work on preclinical testing of these prototypes on pigs. My first day on the job I was sat down and given two major projects to work on for the 8 weeks that I am here. The first; to find a better way to adhere one of these prototypes to the body of the pig. The second; to work on a way to measure blood profusion called laser speckle contrast imaging.

Finding a new adhesive might sound pretty trivial and effortless on the surface, but finding a tape/combination of tapes that will hold weight onto a pig’s skin for up to 8 hours has proven to be difficult. In my research I found 9 different tapes ranging from medical grade to electrical tapes that I thought would perform well in a series of 10 “in vitro” (not on the pig) tests. After running these tests multiple times I was able to eliminate 7 but found that the combination of two tapes, a double-sided and a single-sided tape, was also a strong candidate. I then tested the remaining four tapes on the pig and achieved my goal of finding a way to be both space efficient, and time efficient while also sticking to the pig for a prolonged period of time. Below, you can see one of the tests that I ran, not on the pig, but on myself to insure that we were not causing any unnecessary pain to the pig.

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Miller ’16 experiments with adhesives

PROFUSA's laser speckle equipment

PROFUSA’s laser speckle equipment

Laser speckle contrast imaging equipment is usually very expensive, but here at PROFUSA, we have found an inexpensive and easy way to achieve the same goal. Our laser speckle system, shown above (right), consists of a laser that penetrates into the skin a little bit and then bounces back, and a webcam with special lenses. We have a computer program that will only pick up the red pixels from the images that we gather and from there we can calculate blood movement. Here is how we calculate this: the movement of blood causes the light from the laser to bounce around which can be observed by the naked eye. If there is a lot of blood movement, the blurring will increase and the standard deviation of the intensity, which is calculated by the computer program, will decrease, and consequently the speckle contrast will be lower because it is calculated by the ratio between the standard deviation of the intensity and the mean of the intensity. On the contrary, if there is no movement, the speckle contrast will be larger since the blurring will decrease and the standard deviation will increase. The mean intensity will remain unchanged. Using this tool, I have found that we can observe the effects that different tapes, different sized needles, or even temperature have on the pig, because blood profusion is directly proportionate to irritation and pain. Being able to determine these effects insures that nothing we do in the lab or on the pig is going to cause the pig any unnecessary harm or discomfort.

I have learned and built on new lab skills, learned about diseases like diabetes, and built upon my critical thinking skills throughout my time here with PROFUSA. This experience has also taught me a few non-internship skills, such as shopping for my own groceries and living 100% on my own that I really didn’t think about before coming here. Having never been west of Chicago before, I drove here by myself. I have gotten a nice look at the culture of not only the west and Texas, but also a big college town. I have met a lot of great people here both in the company and at Texas A&M that I hope to keep in touch with. Although I do not have an abundance of time left here, there is still a lot of progress to be made and a lot of experiments to be run that I am very excited about. I want to thank Career Services and everyone that has put forth effort or money to support the Small Business Internship Fund for making this possible and helping me get here.

 

Albertson ’15 StilL 630 Delivers for SBIF Intern

Kyle Albertson '15

Kyle Albertson ’15

Kyle Albertson 15 - From the moment I walked into the distillery on May 19th I knew that I was in for a summer of hard work.  I was thrust straight into the process of distilling rye whiskey and since then I have not looked back.  My internship consisted of two parts; a production aspect and also a sales/marketing aspect.  The production aspect of distilling whiskey is very time consuming; from mashing the grain to fermentation to then actually distilling the mash it takes a solid week of work.  However, there is a lot of down time in between those processes and therefore, many of my days consisted of hand filtering, bottling and labeling the whiskey to be sold into bars, restaurants and stores around the St. Louis area.  Along with that I would go on sales calls in the afternoons during the week.  Sales calls were a 4 to 5 hour process everyday. I would go to check on existing accounts as well as look into getting into many new establishments as well.  While there was tons of hard and tedious work involved there also came a lot of fun too.  Most weekends were times to get out to local places and do tastings to try and further market our product while enjoying ourselves at the same time.  Fun and hard work made these few weeks some of the best and most valuable weeks I have ever experienced.

Kyle Albertson SBIF Blog 2014 StilL 630After having gone through all but a week of this internship I really feel that I am ready to start thinking about starting something like this on my own – once I am graduated, of course.  This internship was able to give me a full prospective of the ins and outs of owning my own small business.  Luckily, because I was the second employee I was able to fully participate in every aspect and it was truly a great experience.

I would sincerely like to thank David Weglarz ’03 (Owner and Master Distiller of StilL 630), Scott Crawford, Wabash Career Services, and the Small Business Internship Fund for allowing this internship to become a reality for me.  I really encourage anyone looking to hone their skills in any aspect of a small business to apply! There definitely isn’t another internship out there like this one.

Goddard ’15 SBIF Provides Non-Profit Experience

Seton Goddard ’15 - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote about the American justice system, pointing out that, “If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.” Justice Brandeis was a Louisvillian and a Kentuckian whose zeal for the law, fairness, and justice for all was unmistakable. His spirit and his approach to justice lives on every day at the Legal Aid Society in downtown Louisville, where I’ve been working for the last eight weeks.

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Left to Right: Dr. John Fischer (Prof. Emeritus), Jeffrey Been ’81, Seton Goddard ’15, and Nick Maraman ’10

Legal Aid provides free civil legal services for people in Jefferson County, Kentucky (Louisville) and thirteen surrounding counties in Kentucky. This means that Legal Aid doesn’t handle any criminal cases, and they see none of the glamorous and stunning Law and Order cases. Instead, Legal Aid’s attorneys and staff work on behalf of families and individuals who have been victims of abuse, are suffering post-war effects (veterans), live in dangerous housing conditions, or who struggle with a wide range of other issues. Without Legal Aid, none of the 4,000 clients they work with annually would have access to attorneys or legal assistance in a system that is nearly impossible to navigate. Indeed, Legal Aid’s work is hugely important, and its effects are profound and widespread. As someone who believes that building strong communities starts with filling in the cracks that many of us have helped create, I was thankful to be a part of an organization that works every day to fill in those cracks and give assistance to the most economically disadvantaged among us.

Seton Goddard '15 with fellow Legal Aid Society interns. Goddard is the only undergraduate student to intern with LAS, and works alongside students from University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

Seton Goddard ’15 with fellow Legal Aid Society interns. Goddard is the only undergraduate student to intern with LAS, and works alongside students from University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

While I am neither a lawyer nor a law student, I have been able to have a hand in these efforts, working with Legal Aid’s Development Director, Julia Leist. Through my work with Julia and also Jeff Been ’81, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society, this internship has given me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of fund raising, development, and non-profit management. From grant writing, to donor relations, to administrative work, I had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects this summer, all related to funding the Legal Aid Society. Because Legal Aid is a non-profit and clients do not pay for their services my supervisor (Julia) is responsible for securing funding to pay the salaries of attorneys, cover administrative costs, and supplement the funding that comes from state and federal agencies. Without Julia’s work, Legal Aid’s resources would be even more limited, and when they must turn away many of the clients who apply for assistance, Legal Aid can use as much funding as they can track down. Most of this is secured through grants, and some of it also comes from private donations in the Louisville and greater Kentuckiana communities. My internship allowed me to write some of these grants, assist with the writing of others, and work with the private donors in Louisville – opportunities I certainly would not have gotten without this summer experience.

Even though I don’t know that I’ll go into the legal profession after I finish at Wabash in May 2015, the work that Legal Aid does has made one thing even clearer to me: there are countless issues that lead people into poverty, and even more issues that keep people in poverty. That being said, while I could have an impact through America’s justice system, I think it is also important to address the issues that land people in poverty, and I hope to pursue opportunities in those areas once I graduate. Thanks to Jeff Been ’81, Julia Leist, and the Small Business Internship Fund for this great opportunity to put the skills I have gained at Wabash into practice for the sake of helping those who, in many ways, society has forgotten.

Cisneros ’15 Freight Broker in Phoenix

Alex Cisneros SBIF 2014 1Alex Cisneros ‘15 - While in search for a summer internship I spoke with one of my fraternity brothers on what I would hope my summer would entail. I wanted to work for a startup company because I hope to own a business after Wabash.  He told me he knew of an alumnus who was moving to a new company, Mr. Erik V. Ness ’94; he was moving to Commodity Transportation Services (CTS), which he and his partners would open up. I got in touch with Mr. Ness and he offered me the job. Through the Small Business Internship Fund I would be interning in Phoenix, AZ working as a freight broker along with a few other Wabash men.

Thus far, working for CTS has been a great learning experience. Everyday I learn something new. In the trucking industry you need to be very aware of what is happening on a daily basis; from weather news to gas prices and everything in between related to freight logistics. I was given three simple rules for this business that I believe apply to everyday life situations: 1) Always be honest 2) Know as much as possible about the load before making a call and 3) cross your t’s and dot your I’s.  Paying attention to detail is very important since you are dealing with cargo that is worth more than fifty thousand dollars.

My duty as a broker is to negotiate with trucking companies on a rate for them to haul fresh produce from one state to another.  Although this may sound easy, I’ve come to learn that in this business anything can go wrong. From the moment you agree with a trucking company on a rate to the moment they deliver you are responsible for that load.  This means you need to be aware of location and time for pick-up and delivery, make delivery appointments with different companies, and make sure the truck is doing well on transit. You need to be in control of all this while still trying to book more trucks for different loads.

Alex Cisneros SBIF 2014 2I am able to stay under control on all these situations, because I have become very close to my co-workers who have helped me incorporate my skilss into the job very easily. My co-workers are brothers and they are by far some of the most remarkable men I have met. Anytime I have a problem they are always there to help. Currently, with the help of my co-worker, I am dealing with a sixty thousand dollar cargo claim on one of the trucks I hired. He has been of great help and is teaching me how to deal with complicated situations as they arise. Therefore, I am more than happy to work alongside these great individuals.

Working for CTS has definitely been one of the best summer experiences of my life so far. I would like to thank Mr. Erik V. Ness, Mr. Scott Crawford, Career Services, and of course the Small Business Internship Fund, without their help this great experience would not be possible.

Shank ’16 Chicago Finance: Sink or Swim

Shank '16 puts Wabash time management skills to use as he works remotely from Chicago Starbucks.

Shank ’16 puts Wabash time management skills to use as he works remotely from Chicago Starbucks.

Ben Shank ’16 - I am very thankful for the opportunity provided to me by Wabash’s Small Business Internship Fund.  It has allowed to me work a new product launch on a financial software project at a Chicago-based company, under the supervision of a Wabash alumnus.  He has gained a wealth of knowledge about the business world since graduating from Wabash with an economics major.  He has worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and received an MBA at the University of Chicago.  This is all very relevant to my future pursuits as I am currently a rising junior economics major hoping to work in the financial field.  I also hope to one day get an MBA at a top school like UChicago.

I have been able to use skills I picked up at my previous internships at AMI Investment Management (also founded by a Wabash grad) in terms of competitor research.  While I was primarily researching stocks at AMI with the intent to purchase them, now I am researching companies from a competition standpoint. The internship has helped me think about “marketing” in a whole new way.  Before, I had associated marketing with artistic logos and creative jingles, none of which are really my forte.  However, I now see marketing as gaining an understanding of your current surroundings and peers and then identifying the need.  This will serve as valuable insight as I pursue a further career in business and finance.

Shank '16 SBIF Adorant2

This is a picture I took of Lake Michigan while walking on Lake Shore Drive during my internship.

Another interesting aspect of the internship has been the exploration of personality types and the way these impact consumer behavior.  One of the first things I did upon starting the internship was to take a Myers-Briggs personality test.  The (free and online) test asks you to answer about 80 questions, basically about how you operate.  I found that I am an ENTJ type; look it up – it’s fun to see how well your type describes you.   The goal is to not only identify what work habits work best for yourself, but also to attempt to identify how each “type” of consumer will respond to different products and features.

One of the great features of this internship is that it allows me to live in Chicago.  While I work remotely, typically from a coffee shop or my apartment, I do get to meet with my boss a couple times a week to touch base.  This internship forces one to develop time management skills since there are no set hours.  Luckily, Wabash is structured to the point that you either sink or swim based on time management skills or the lack thereof.  I highly recommend guys interested in a career in business or entrepreneurship to look into interning here through the Small Business Internship Fund in the future!