An ex-premed’s first week at a blockchain startup
My Career Journey (thus far)
Last summer, I performed research in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In between immunostaining muscle cells, I read the Wall Street Journal religiously and connected with a friend of mine who had made the jump from premed to life sciences consulting.
As a junior, I was on track to follow suit. By spring, I had accepted an internship offer with Booz Allen Hamilton to work on their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) engagement. However, in April, I was notified via email that the internship had been cancelled. Some of my colleagues received notifications in May.
Thankfully, I have a supportive personal and professional network that allowed me to obtain an interview at a tech startup founded by a WashU alumni. After a short case interview with the CEO, Michael Kramer , I accepted a position as a Venture Analyst. The startup, called Simulpass, is centered around one ambitious goal: to help users take control of their digital identities.
Now, on with my day by day experiences this past week:
Preliminary Research: The week before-Tuesday
I started by watching one of Simulpass’ earliest pitches, reviewing the most recent pitch deck, and reading in depth about recent developments in the industry. Then, I independently completed a course on how to raise capital from start to finish. I finished out this week by learning the ins and outs of bubble so I could begin building even with a non-technical background.
In addition, all the interns met through video conference with Simulpass’ team, where I was able to ask questions collected from my independent research into the company and the industry. I was amazed by team’s open culture and felt excited to dive in.
Wednesday, I synthesized pitch deck recommendations from the entrepreneurship online course, examples from Crunchbase, and feedback from an investor in a research report. I believe it is important to put this information together upfront and to obtain feedback from it so we can have a better idea on how startups can position themselves best to raise funding.
I quickly compiled frequently asked questions from angel investors and answering them on a master answer document for quick reference. Thursday was a very short day for me because I had already set up my LinkedIn account and was quite comfortable with ProductHunt, so I blew through those tasks.
Finally this week, I created a detail proposal for a Bubble (App) Capstone project in which I would independently develop an app this summer. I also put together a slide deck outline incorporating information from Wednesday’s report and patterns I had noticed from startups that successfully secured funding. The deliverables set this week provided a great way for me to jumpstart my capstone project and lay the groundwork for my contributions the rest of the summer.
If I were to change anything about the internship thus far, I’d say that I wish there was more cross-talk between the technical and non-technical teams and more explicit measurements for intern progress. Whether this may be site views or app downloads, establishing, then tracking progress on S.M.A.R.T. goals can be personally exhilarating and makes impact measurable. Most of this week I had been working full-time and often found myself wondering how I could continue adding value after my assigned tasks were finished. Perhaps with more explicit progress metrics I could bring some structure to my efforts and ensure my work was MECE (mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive) from others.
Overall, though, I have had a wonderful time working with the Simulpass team and am ecstatic to have this opportunity to grow.
That’s all great, but what does this mean for my career?
Fair question — I did start off with talking about biomedical research. Does this week mean I’ve sworn off medicine to build pitch decks? The truth is that I am still enrolled in upper level biology and physics courses this upcoming semester and intend to follow my passion: to solve problems, learn a ton, and lead with compassion. I think many college seniors are in the same boat. Thus, it is crucial to be agile during these challenging times and skilling up at every opportunity.
I Don’t Have All the Answers, But What I do Know is This:
Throughout the summer, I will continue volunteering at Simulpass part-time to learn and continue my immersion into the startup world. I would like to thank my boss for having me on the team. Special thanks,also, to my accounting professor, Dr. Michael McLaughlin, for connecting us. Dr. McLaughlin has been an extremely supportive figure and manages an educational nonprofit, Edspira, devoted to making business education and careers more accessible.