Internship with a Startup: Sandra Adams-Hallie's Testimonial

Sandra Hallie

Sandra Hallie

Sandra Adams-Hallie, a Dutch national, is a Senior at John Cabot University graduating in both Business Administration and International Affairs. During the summer of 2014, she joined the management team of an online platform that has the mission to make communication between private companies, funds and their investors efficient and rewarding. Now in Rome, she is still working for the Amsterdam-based company via her computer.

How did you find this internship? 
I have always been very interested in working within a startup environment. During Spring 2014, I actively searched on Google to find a great internship with a startup in the Netherlands. I found a job opening as a Marketing Manager Intern at a FinTech startup, and since its management was looking for an enthusiastic student with international experience, I applied. Soon I was contacted for an interview, and to my happy surprise, I got the job. Later I found out that I was chosen from around 70 other applicants!

What does the business do?
The company was founded in 2013 by two brothers who already developed software to improve communications between listed companies and their investors. This first company had quickly become market leader in the Netherlands. However, they did not want to stop there, as they were still passionate about improving communications between management and investors, they now turned to a new market, private companies and funds. The company offers a very complete solution that also serves to facilitate online voting for shareholder and board meetings, and is designed to boost shareholder engagement in decision-making processes.

What is your role in the business?
I am hired as the Marketing Manager Intern of the company; however, in a startup you do not really only have one specific task. You are thrown into many different aspects of the business. Some of my duties, for example, have included the writing of marketing materials, the creation of the landing page, sending out messages to potential clients, and even helping designing part of the software! It is amazing how much my bosses care about my opinion and how much they involve me in decision-making.

Which skills did you learn and could they benefit you in the future?
In the beginning when working for the company, I quickly understood I knew very little about both the startup world and the financial sector. However, due to the amazing brothers who really were willing to teach me everything knew, I quickly became familiar with the materials I was working with. I think that I now better understand the strategic processes that come with the building of a startup, but know that there are still a million things to learn. I am very grateful to have met such entrepreneurial people, who were willing to involve me so much in their business. The experience really has changed me as a person and has made me even more inspired to start my own business in the near future.

What advice could you give to young want-to-be entrepreneurs?
Working for the company has been an amazing learning process for me. I have not only been able to experience the  challenges of an early stage startup but I have also been exposed to important networking events and Demo Days of startup accelerator programs. All working days were very different. On some days, business consultants would come to advise us on our pricing strategy and help us define the right market segments. On other days, we got helpful advice on how to carry out efficient marketing research. By working in such a business I have really learned more than I ever could have imagined. I really, really recommend fellow students to reach out to startup companies or work for startup accelerator programs; the vibrant work environment is very inspiring and genuinely fun to be in.

How has JCU helped you?
John Cabot has given me a true international perspective. I am very happy that I chose to pursue a double Major in both International Affairs and Business Administration as I think that my studies have given me a unique perspective on political, social, and business aspects on a global level. Also, in my search for a position in an ambitious startup, I discovered that more and more employers are actively seeking people who are culturally sensitive and who have lived or studied abroad.I think that John Cabot has a large pool of students that could be great future entrepreneurs – starting a business takes courage and requires people to think out of the box. I think that studying abroad is proof of those two skills.

I want to give a special thanks to Prof. Silvia Pulino. As a former entrepreneur herself, she has always been open to answering any questions I had and has been happy to sharing her experiences in the startup world.

Learn more about the John Cabot Institute for Entrepreneurship