During my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Israel. I got an internship through school working for a venture capital firm in Jerusalem, and the 4 months I spent there changed my outlook and had a profound effect on my future career.
It wasn’t until a year beforehand that I decided I wanted to major in something business related, so I was very new to the world and had a very limited knowledge of what the venture capital world entailed.
Once a week, I’d go into the office, sat in on meetings with companies pitching their products, and speak with the managing partners about technology enabled services. It opened my eyes to all the possibilities ahead and I started thinking about things in a different way.
Most of the companies that came into pitch their products did not seem like they were destined for greatness. They were not world changing services or products, so the company passed on most, if not all, of the opportunities presented in meetings that I sat in on.
After learning a lot and contributing very little, I came away with a much deeper understanding of the world of technology and became much more interested in it. It helped solidify my decision to major in Information Systems, which was a mix of programming and business.
The following summer, I took an internship working for a jewelry store trying to improve their traffic and rankings. Having that internship experience was the only thing that made me qualified for the position. It was there that I got my first (and only) mention in the New York Times Freakonomics Blog.
Without that first internship in Israel, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would not have gotten the internship at the jewelry store and learned more about search engine optimization specifically. and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the reason I was given the opportunity.
After graduating from college the following year, I started working primarily doing database work and some programming for a large car insurance company. I got the job based on my coursework and my experience, which clearly started with the venture capital internship. Meanwhile, I started this blog and started thinking outside the box in terms of my future.
In college, I was a little single-minded. I planned on getting a job and working for about 40 years before retiring. I never thought that I could do something else with my life, start a business, and create my own destiny instead of relying only on others.
This internship I had while on a study abroad program kicked off a series of events that led me to where I am today and shaped the way I look at the world. I gained the valuable skills necessary to discern whether or not to pursue a recent business opportunity, and it opened the door to many more opportunities I continue to look for.