Shea van den Broek ’23

AKALA, Beverly Hills, CA

This summer, along with a few other Williams students, I interned at AKALA, an education tech startup that provides a college counseling platform for students. AKALA’s mission is to close the college admissions gap and make college counseling accessible to all students interested in attending college.

Shea working from home.
Remote setup for the summer!

We were able to work closely with the CEO, Perry, and the Chief Product Officer, Barbara. Most of our internship consisted of jumping from project to project throughout the summer, and we checked in over Zoom. Perry also took some time to give us insight into the steps of creating a startup from his perspective throughout the summer.

We completed significant research for the company’s curriculum, finding material specific to high school and middle school kids using the AKALA platform. One of the parts of the curriculum Barbara has built includes educational videos kids watch and then write about to hone writing skills that come to use when drafting college essays.

For AKALA’s social media, which they are hoping to expand, we also worked on a “College Spotlight Series,” meant to bring light to colleges in the U.S. that are less known along with interesting facts about them. We divided different areas of study and each found schools with great programs in that area. We also researched possible funding options, as AKALA is early in the startup process, looking into foundations who may be interested in education.

Throughout the summer I was able to build on my networking and communication skills given that one of the tasks Perry assigned was reaching out for advice on the next steps AKALA should take. It was helpful just getting practice in this area, as networking is such an important skill I know I will use frequently in the future. I was able to connect Perry with some Eph alums who are interested in AKALA’s mission and future.

This internship was not specific to my fields of study, which are mathematics and statistics, but it has certainly given me broader knowledge I will use when I do work in these areas. As most of the projects were done independently, I had to learn to manage my own schedule; and with the remote work environment, I definitely had to work through some challenges in communication.

Coming into this internship, I was unsure of specifically which area I would like to work in, so it was great to work for a startup and learn about what it takes to begin and then build up a company, as the ideas I learned apply to almost any industry. I am so appreciative of Mr. and Mrs. Case and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for giving me this opportunity, and I am eager to utilize the tools I’ve learned in whatever I do next.