Kayla Swift ’23

EatOkra, New York, NY

This summer, I was given the opportunity to work remotely with EatOkra, an app that serves as a directory for Black-owned restaurants, caterers and food trucks. “Where food, culture and community link,” EatOkra promotes and sponsors upcoming events, provides restaurant consulting and produces podcasts and cooking content. Over the past five years, EatOkra has amassed more than 9,500 business listings, with more than 330,000 user downloads, and gained partnerships with companies such as Disney, Apple and UberEats. Through these partnerships, EatOkra highlights both prominent and emerging Black chefs and supports local eats with social media posts and other forms of advertising. This was my second summer working for EatOkra, and I was pleased to come back and continue to strengthen relationships with my supervisor and co-workers.

Kayla Swift working.One of my major tasks this summer was managing the app’s event calendar. This included researching cultural food events in the U.S., reaching out to organizers and responding to submission requests. In reaching out to organizers, I would speak for the company and propose potential ways we could support or collaborate. This work also included making a master calendar of major annual events that EatOkra could collaborate with, so that my supervisors could have more time to plan ahead and organize the potential partnership. Additionally, I worked at partnered events such as the 60th anniversary of Sylvia’s Restaurant, a historic Black-owned restaurant located in Harlem, N.Y., that does an annual celebration where they feed their community with a free breakfast. I tabled the event, passing out fliers, teaching guests about the app, and encouraging them to download it.

Another task I worked on was the launch of the app’s embed feature. I was specifically in charge of carrying out the product-to-market strategy designed to assist in the success of the launch. For example, I created the “how-to” guide on how to use the embed feature, which can be sent to writers and bloggers. Additionally, I created a mock blog to serve as a demonstration of the embed feature, so writers can easily visualize the feature. Lastly, I researched and created a list of publications, writers and bloggers who write about Black-owned restaurants, to then send the information about the feature out to once we were ready to launch.

This summer, I continued to strengthen important soft skills such as adaptability, problem resolution and communication with my supervisor and co-workers. These improved skills made me more comfortable with speaking in front of the team in meetings and lessened my stress about day-to-day work interactions. Additionally, I learned about marketing strategy, partnership guidelines and event production, as well as new organizational methods, which will all be applicable in the fields I am interested in after graduation. This increased ease in a work environment coupled with my growing understanding of strategic marketing, product management and event production makes me more confident about entering the workforce in the spring.

Thank you so much to all those involved in giving me this opportunity to explore my interest in entrepreneurship.