Nicky Wu ’22

AKALA, Beverly Hills, CA

This summer, I interned at AKALA, an ed-tech startup in California with a mission of making college admissions guidance more accessible. Even for a startup, it’s a pretty small company: the full-time team consists of the CEO and Williams alum, Perry Kalmus ’03, and three other people. I was glad to have the chance to learn more about entrepreneurship and the EdTech space while connecting with a Williams grad this summer.

Nicky working remotely.
Working remotely for AKALA.

As a business development intern at AKALA, I was able to gain experience doing a broad array of different tasks. Because AKALA’s a small startup, our roles and responsibilities were pretty varied. I especially appreciated the company’s flexibility in allowing me to start my internship later than usual due to my semester ending later than usual. This also meant I had some quick onboarding to accomplish, but I was able to quickly catch up.

Primarily, I was tasked with researching funding and grant opportunities via individual grant makers and larger foundations. I then moved on to building out the curriculum for the company’s platform. This involved curating age appropriate content for students in a range of different subjects and for different occasions. I also got to do some direct student outreach which was exciting. As part of this internship, Perry strongly encouraged us to utilize our network, especially with Williams alumni and on EphLink. This was probably one of the most valuable aspects of this internship as it made me more comfortable with networking and reaching out to older alumni.

Working in the fast paced, startup environment gave me a new perspective on entrepreneurship. The nature of the internship was both an advantage and a disadvantage. It allowed me to relatively easily start my own initiatives if I so chose, but it also meant that sometimes there were missteps in communication. This made me realize how integral organization and communication are to running a company. The ever-changing nature of the startup in regards to funding and its different stages of development also made me consider how important stability in my workplace is to me. While it was very easy for me to get started on projects that I am interested in and implement my ideas and feedback, there was less of an established structure to fall back on to keep things organized. Overall, working on the different responsibilities that I was assigned this summer gave me valuable insights into which tasks drained and energized me. This information will definitely be helpful for me as I continue to consider my post grad plans.

Special thanks to the Case Family and to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for this opportunity.