Embracing Chaos: My Internship at a Startup Company

This summer, we asked our CAMP summer interns to share their experiences on our blog. Here’s Korina Gaw’s first post:

I remember the first time that I had spoken to Walter, my boss, about what my internship would entail. He straightaway warned me, “Your work is going to be erratic and hectic. We could be working on one project for weeks, and then completely scrap it by the next. In my experience, you may find that the ideas you thought would initially work don’t and the ones that you thought would surely fail do. You will constantly encounter failure, but what matters more is your willingness to bounce back.”

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I only remember the deep sigh of relief I took after the conversation was over.

To explain this foreboding introduction, I must tell you that Action Stack is brand new. By brand new, it literally means that the business only began last January 8, 2014. It’s an educational start-up that’s mostly comprised of my boss and a handful of fresh interns like myself. Now I may be the only one in high school, but I can assure you that we’re all in this learning process together. Files are still messy, schedules are unclear and money remains a question; however, I’ve come to realize and appreciate that this disarray is really what drew me to join Action Stack. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I needed to experience the realities of running a business still taking its first steps in the real world.

Once the work started, I knew that Walter was not exaggerating. I saw the constant dilemmas that he had to face day by day. There’d always be the funding to worry about, the new customers to convince and the vital deadlines to make- to a point where no amount of OCD could lessen the work that needed to be accomplished. There were days spent conceptualizing workshops, meeting mentors and evaluating what needed improvement. There were times completely focused on the phone, talking to clients ranging from programmers to CEOs and hours that went by of purely sending emails to various groups of people. There were the cancellations, the last-minute add-ons, the forgotten details,  and by the end of the day, all this work still provides no guarantee of things turning out the way they were planned.

Nevertheless thanks to this journey of disorder, I am grateful for the way it’s equipped me for every bump along the road. I’ve mastered the art of persuasion through the countless phone calls I’ve made. I’ve taught myself the important habit of checking my email everyday and responding to inquiries as quickly as I can. I’ve grasped how to communicate confidently and effectively especially when talking to strangers. I’d even like to believe that I’ve become more patient. Most importantly, there are lessons I learned at my internship that I could not have learned in any other environment. I learned that everything can be managed, no matter how bad things may seem. I learned that starting a business demands more legwork than anything else. I learned that all ideas, no matter how great, are useless without the proper execution and practicality. I even learned how to appreciate the little things and accept what I cannot change. All this because of one month that has brought me such an unforeseen mix of chaos and fulfillment.

What’s life without a bit of disorder?

Korina Gaw is a high school student at Immaculate Conception Academy.

The CAMP summer internship program is designed to provide high school students with professional work experience before attending university. Read more about the program here.