Simon Jenkins ’24

AKALA, Beverly Hills, CA

I spent this summer working as a virtual intern with the education tech startup AKALA with CEO and co-founder Perry Kalmus ’03. AKALA is a college admissions prep platform that works to even the playing field in college admissions by providing AI-enabled counseling that’s more easily affordable than other college counseling programs. During my time at AKALA, I worked alongside other interns on a variety of projects dealing with both the counseling platform and the business as a whole.

Our first project involved collecting, uploading and updating a variety of materials on the platform for students, including educational videos, TED talks and graduation speeches. Part of this involved changing the way materials are organized on the site so that students can more intuitively find materials that interest them.

Simon Jenkins in a virtual meeting.Our next focus dealt more directly with the business, as we reached out to other companies in a variety of industries to talk about AKALA and ask for advice on the future of the business. This part of the internship was especially interesting to me, as I gained experience networking with a variety of people, particularly other Williams alumni who were happy to hear about the company. This experience became helpful as I connected with more alumni through EphLink for advice. We also spent time researching opportunities for grants and other sources of funding, which allowed me to learn firsthand about what goes into funding a young business.

I spent most of the end of the internship working with another intern on a web app for the AKALA website. Working on this app involved learning about and implementing responsive UX design that helps engage students and parents into learning more about the platform, which I found uniquely challenging yet rewarding as someone who lacked prior experience in UX and web design. I’m excited to gain more experience in web development in the future through coursework and career opportunities.

Seeing the work that goes into funding and running a tech startup was an enriching experience as someone interested in pursuing an entrepreneurial path later in my career. Working with Perry was particularly rewarding, as he spent a lot of time talking about his career journey and demonstrating how to network and market oneself to others. I plan to put what I’ve learned toward future internships and opportunities and to hopefully gain more experiences in the field as I work toward a career in tech.

I’d like to thank Perry and Barbara Kalmus for the opportunity to gain these valuable experiences and for the work they’re doing in the college admissions field. I’d also like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Case and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for the abundance of support and valuable resources they’ve provided throughout the summer.