Tommy Coyne ’23

AKALA, Beverly Hills, CA

I had the pleasure of working with AKALA, a college counseling online platform that provides a blended model between technology and one-on-one consulting. I served my role as a Business Development Intern with my team, consisting of four other interns from Williams, working closely with the chief executive and chief product officers of the company. Our first task was to add videos to the curriculum that would help spark ideas for the students’ college essays and applications. This was a great project to start with since it was a pleasurable and rewarding task that directly affected the platform off the bat. We then shifted to finding community service opportunities across the nation, especially in the Austin area. This project coincided with researching high school curricula, whether the method was scouring school websites or contacting the schools directly to inquire further.

Tommy Coyne working at home.
Taking a Zoom call with the team from home.

In another project, we reached out to students that had registered for the platform. This involved drafting personalized messages for each student, as well as their parents. Less than a month into the internship, I was excited to be exposed to the behind-the-scenes business decisions as well as front-end interaction with the students themselves.

Throughout the summer, the CEO, Perry Kalmus ’03, made it a point to have regular Zooms with us to go over our tasks, but mainly to give career advice and personal lessons learned. I found it refreshing that Perry accompanied each piece of advice with an anecdote where he found it personally valuable or found that the advice would have been incredibly helpful in retrospect. Considering my vested interest in the career path that is entrepreneurship and startups, I was very grateful for Perry’s advice and willingness to share the lessons he had learned along the way.

The final month of my internship was dedicated to networking. First, we created a master spreadsheet of potential donors and reached out to these individuals. The second avenue we took for networking was reaching out to Williams alumni over EphLink to see if they had any advice or guidance for the company going forward. This was especially helpful, and I found that what everyone says is true: the Williams alumni network is one of the strongest networks in the nation.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had with AKALA this summer. I gained great insight into what makes a tech startup successful, developed an ability to work from anywhere remotely, and bolstered my networking and interpersonal skills in every facet. The personal growth I had this summer would not have been possible without AKALA, the ’68 Center for Career Exploration, and the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Case. Thank you.