This past August marked the end of the Keller Center’s second annual Princeton Start-Up Immersion Program (PSIP) in New York City. Living as a cohort in Midtown Manhattan at the Princeton Club of New York for the summer, 37 Princeton students interned at over a dozen early-stage startups spanning a wide variety of industries, from virtual reality e-commerce to bioinformatics to even cold-pressed juice!
PSIP places Princeton students into paid internships at fast-growing, cutting-edge startups. The companies are carefully vetted by the Keller Center for their desire to provide mentorship and high-impact projects for students to acquire first-hand experience. Students work alongside key decision makers and participate in a series of learning, mentoring and networking opportunities throughout the 10-week program.
At Andela, a company focused on developing engineering talent in Africa, Avthar Sewrathan ’18 said “it was a huge learning experience from a leadership point of view because I got to sit in on meetings with the CEO. I got to not only hear what was being said but also to see how it was being said.”
For Rae Perez ’19, who was at an internet civic action startup called Speakable, the company’s small size provided a unique learning experience. “I enjoyed the size of the team and the different perspectives they brought to the table. With only five people at the company, everyone had a specialty and everyone had to do things outside that specialty at some point.” Similarly, Madeleine Cheyette ’19 described her time at Gloss Genius (an AEF portfolio company, which has developed a digital personal assistant for beauty professionals) as “eclectic.” “We (the interns) were really handling a lot of different things in the office, switching between customer service and content marketing and product development. It was fun!”
One way PSIP complements the entrepreneurship education offered through the Keller Center on the Princeton campus is by providing a glimpse into entrepreneurship in later stages. “A lot of entrepreneurship at Princeton is focused on how you get things off the ground and test things out, but Andela is a step past that. I got to see how a company considers growing and expanding,” said Sewrathan. “Watching Andela in its growth stage makes me consider what size and stage company I would like to work with in the future, and where I will be most impactful.”
Rae Perez, Sarah Pan, Manisha Kapasiawala, and Peter Chen in front of the Princeton Club of New York
It seems that PSIP graduates have become significantly more interested in entrepreneurship in their professional careers upon completion of the program, whether it is through starting a company themselves or joining a startup. Manisha Kapasiawala ’19, who worked in research and development at a genomics startup called Phosphorus, said “given the flexibility, impact, and greater opportunities to learn at a startup, I am considering working in a smaller company or startup, or perhaps even starting my own, in the future.”
PEC intern Nuss Visatemongkolchai spent the summer in Tel Aviv with PSIP-Israel – read her impressions of startup life in Israel at her blog post for PEC. (And read more about Nuss’s experiences in Israel over the summer.)