May Blair ’25

AKALA, Beverly Hills, CA

For my summer internship, I worked with Perry Kalmus ’03 during the funding and development processes of his startup company, AKALA. I did a variety of assignments, including research on companies with similar business models and exploration on grants AKALA could apply to. However, most of my projects were more oriented around design and technology. I was able to play with different software and taught myself a ton about animating and video editing during my internship.

May Blair working.At the beginning, Perry taught me about entrepreneurship, networking and startup funding. We then transitioned into working more directly with our product, a platform designed to help students as young as eighth grade plan out their collegiate goals. The program includes guidance with a counselor, video libraries for different academic interests and places to log achievements and grades.

I also worked on sharpening AKALA’s pitch decks. There are different slideshows for donors, parents and students to be presented with the product, so I spent a good amount of time organizing and redesigning the different decks so that they matched stylistically and appeared professional. The final product was a massive slide deck that could be easily separated into mini presentations perfect for the appropriate audience.

In addition, I spent a lot of time on Blender, a wonderful piece of software that allowed me to easily edit videos for our social media. One of the topics of our meetings was to brainstorm how to increase our social media presence with posts across different platforms. While I didn’t create any posts myself, I was able to show Perry around TikTok and create a video with image and video overlays to make our posts more interesting. Apart from the video editing, I also designed 2D animations of AKALA’s logo to again create stylish and professional visuals for anyone viewing our product.

Barbara Kalmus also asked me to help redesign their blog website. It was designed using WordPress, so I was able to make lots of changes ranging from fonts to formatting. While this is an ongoing project, I was able to solve some major issues Barbara had with the design as well as implement new features like embedded Twitter posts with the hopes of increasing the traffic coming to the site.

The personal and academic tools I learned through this internship will carry me for the rest of my career. As a prospective physics and computer science double major, I am delighted to have grown so much in my hands-on technological experience. I hope to continue working with AKALA and companies with similar social impact in the future.

I cannot thank Perry and Barbara enough for this opportunity to learn from them and explore their field. In addition, I’m thankful for the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Case Family, who made this summer such a wonderful, educational experience for me.