AKALA, Beverly Hills, CA
I worked as a business development intern for AKALA, an early-stage education technology startup founded by Perry Kalmus ’03. AKALA’s mission is to level the playing field in the college admissions space by providing low- income high school students across the United States with access to quality college counseling. It does so through its AI enabled online platform and partnerships with local Police Athletic Leagues and Boys and Girls Club branches nationwide. This ambitious mission to help close the opportunity gap is what inspired me to take this position.
Throughout the summer, my fellow interns and I work on a variety of different projects:
In June, our focus was on expanding the platform’s curriculum offerings. This primarily consisted of us finding interesting and relevant TED talks and then writing engaging synopses for them.
In July, we pivoted to preparing for an upcoming capital raise in which we were responsible for conducting extensive research on a list of high-net-worth individuals, looking to find prospects with notable investing/philanthropic records and interest in education. Upon compiling a list of individuals who we thought might be a good match, we sent out personalized emails to these potential angel investors.
Finally, in August, the majority of our time was spent tapping into the alumni network via EphLink. We connected with various alumni who have backgrounds in education, technology, finance, consulting, and media and arranged Zoom calls where we would provide them with an overview of AKALA, its mission, platform, and growth model.
Working closely with Perry provided me with an invaluable, firsthand education in startups. My biggest takeaways from the overall experience were: (1) it’s only worth it if you love it; (2) networking is the most important skill any professional can have; (3) to climb the ladder in any organization you must make yourself indispensable; and (4) get comfortable with hearing “no.”
Overall, my experience with AKALA this summer was amazing. I was able to establish new professional connections, get a better sense for what a startup is, and further develop my research, communication, and networking skills.
I would like to thank Perry, Barbara and Debon (the full-time team at AKALA) for giving me this opportunity and for creating an environment conducive to learning. I would also like to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Case Family, for without their generosity I would not have had this wonderful experience.