Lauren Morera ’15, Visionary Capital

Completing the Princeternship at Visionary was definitely a unique experience that I won’t soon forget.  The organization itself was run very differently than I expected, and the actual work the company did was less financial than I expected it to be. I spent two days working in New York with the Visionary team.  Visionary is like the e-harmony of business and is an outgrowth of the older VisCap model founded by the same Princeton alumni as Visionary, Alex Salzman ‘07.  The time during the Princeternship was very exciting for Visionary because the organization was sponsoring the Wall Street Green Summit at the time.  This allowed me to see all the behind the scenes work that goes into a conference and all the logistical issues that can arise when more than one group of people is attempting to run the same conference.  My first day was mostly spent helping Visionary with some administrative work on Salesforce by organizing the contacts that Visionary would be inviting to the closing reception of the Summit the following day.  Alex also let us listen in to some calls which was interesting and this allowed me to get a better feel for what the business was.  At the end of the first day we went over to see the venue for the conference where we would be meeting the next day.

Lauren, Alex Salzman, and fellow Princetern Kyle

On Tuesday Kyle, the other student on the Princeternship, and I met at the conference venue where we spent the day talking to various professionals in ‘Green’ fields.  We met people who worked for green investment banks and green manufacturing companies and I thought that these interactions were extremely valuable because they allowed me to get exposure to a unique and innovative field of New York professionals.  At the end of the second day we went to the reception hosted by Visionary where we met some other professionals, but mostly talked to Princeton alumni who also worked at Visionary and gave us their perceptions of the field.

I would really like to thank Alex for giving me the opportunity to work with the company and learn both about myself and Visionary through this process.

 

Ananda (Ruiwen) Zhu ’15, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office

My first day as a Princetern at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office began as I stepped into City Hall, situated amidst the bustle and excitement of downtown L.A. There a fellow Princetern and I met our host, deputy city attorney Marcia Gonzales-Kimbrough ‘75. After a brief tour of her office and introduction to her colleagues, we began our three-day experience of the work of a city attorney.

The activities of my first day immediately gave me a clear idea of the nature of Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough’s work. As a city attorney, she plays the crucial role of providing legal counsel for a wide variety of issues and projects in the city of Los Angeles. I had the privilege of attending several meetings she had as the general counsel for the L.A. for Kids program, which procures and distributes funding for park and recreation projects in the city. Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough discussed various aspects of a large number of projects with not only other lawyers, but also landscape architects, whom we met on the first day to discuss a potential driving range in west Los Angeles, as well as civil engineers from the department of Public Works. We also met with the City Administrative Officers for the program and members of the Community Redevelopment Agency, which had an incredible number of projects underway yet was being dissolved due to budgetary constraints. Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough provided legal advice for these groups, particularly in terms of ensuring that all the details of their proposals for the community projects adhere to the city’s chartered rules and will be approved by the city council. She also looks over the legality of the multiple contracts that are a part of each project.

Though these meetings may seem tedious, I definitely felt that they were an irreplaceable part of the community, and that law, whether it is a bill passed by the council or an ordinance issued by the mayor, is made an inherent part of these government functions for the purpose of improving the lives of individuals in the community. I was particularly struck by the significance of Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough’s work when we drove by some of the very parks and sites for future development that were discussed in the meetings. By shadowing Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough, I gained a comprehensive understanding of the careful considerations, the compromises made, and the collective efforts of many individuals behind each park, recreation center, or children’s museum. I saw the testament to democracy at work through the process of turning a proposal into reality.

In addition to attending meetings with several branches of the city government, Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough also gave us the opportunity to attend a continuing legal education

Ananda and Marcia Gonzales-Kimbrough

lecture given by a Princeton graduate on several controversial topics, including the legalization of medical marijuana and responsibility dispute of city sidewalk repair. Furthermore, on the last day of the Princeternship, we also attended a City Council meeting and observed the passing of bills by the council members and comments made by community activists on the specific issues of their concern.

Aside from having the chance to observe the abovementioned meetings and government functions, meeting and hearing the stories of Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough herself, her coworkers and other Princeton alumni in southern California was, in my opinion, an extremely beneficial part of this experience. Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough graciously talked to us about her past experiences as a law school student, a prosecutor working in criminal law, and her transition to a city attorney. She also introduced us to her colleagues, who all kindly told us about their particular areas of legal expertise, and recent Princeton graduates. Gaining a glimpse into the work they do and learning about how they made their career choices gave me very helpful information with which I may, hopefully, make my own decisions about future academic and career pursuits. Of course, this Princeternship was also an invaluable chance to build professional relationships that you would not gain otherwise.

From this experience, I learned so much about not only the legal field, but also the practical application of law. I personally thought that this greatly influenced the way I perceive the career of a lawyer, which I believe is very meaningful and extremely multifaceted and interesting. If I had not observed Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough’s daily work, my academic or career decisions with regard to law would be based on postulation rather than facts and real experience. Princeternships provide a unique and rare opportunity to gain insight into a particular career and allow you to truly immerse yourself in the environment so that you can decide whether this is the right career for you. I am extremely glad that I chose to apply and participate, and I am very grateful to Ms. Gonzales-Kimbrough and Career Services for generously providing me with this opportunity.

Alex (Li) Zhao ’15, Juniper Networks

It was an unusually cold and dark morning; although that was probably because I hadn’t woken up that early in a while. I took the train to downtown Manhattan and walked to the Starbucks at 35th and 8th, where I found a man in an orange shirt with a beaming smile. My host was Hal Stern ‘84, Chief Architect for the Developer Business Unit of Juniper Networks. After brief introductions, we started immediately; Mr. Stern gave me an overview of his company as well as a crash course in computer networks. It was a field that I was rather unversed in, but as I soon found out, had everything to do with my interest in computer science and technology.

We first visited Christian Martin, a network modeling and simulation expert. In addition to enlightening me on computer networks, he also gave me a great amount of advice about college. The point that struck me the most, however, was his emphasis on the importance of “learning how to learn.” My host himself was a testament to that statement as he had only dived into networking rather recently. But with a strong background in Computer Science and the skills acquired at Princeton, that transition was made much more manageable.

I had spoken to Mr. Stern about my interest in startups, so he introduced me to two companies he was currently involved with. We had lunch with Campbell McKellar, the founder of Loosecubes. Her site was designed to “connect people who have great workspace with people who need it.” Listening to her speak really brought to life the numerous, frustrating challenges every startup faces as well as the even greater pride in overcoming those challenges. After having explored her site and listening to her talk, I became very interested in the concept of “co-working” and offered to intern at her office for a week, a proposition she happily agreed to.

For our last stop, we visited Hotlist, a social network/event coordinating site, located in what may very well be the coolest studio-turned-office space in SoHo. We spoke with Gianni Martire, the co-founder of Hotlist, who gave me invaluable advice on entrepreneurship and the tech-world in general. His excitement and passion for his work rubbed off on me, as I left fully convinced that I want to work at a startup after graduating.

Throughout the day, Mr. Stern and I talked about everything we found interesting; some was informative, others less relevant, but nonetheless extremely interesting. Although it was but just a day in New York, it was quite the day. Having the opportunity to meet such interesting and knowledgeable individuals was an invaluable experience and introduced me to a much larger world outside the Orange Bubble.

Zinan Zhang ’14, Capital Digestive Care

Monday, January 9, 2012

I was very excited to begin shadowing Dr. Julia Korenman ‘78, a gastroenterologist at Digestive Disease Consultants in Rockville, Maryland. I arrived at her office at 7:45 in the morning. Before we did anything, I had to sign a privacy form as is standard in all hospital settings. Then she introduced me to some of the partners and nurses and showed me around the clinic. Since I was a little early, we had some time to talk about why I was interested in gastroenterology and what my future plans were in college. Next, she told me that she would be meeting with patients all day and showed me “our” schedule for the day. I was quite amazed by how many patients she saw each day. The patients were usually scheduled for 15- or 30-minute time slots and Dr. Korenman’s schedule only had an hour break for lunch, assuming everything goes perfectly according to schedule. Before I saw each patient, Dr. Korenman asked the patients if they were comfortable with a Pre-Med student observing their session. In case they were uncomfortable with having me in the room, Dr. Korenman gave me some reading material on common gastrointestinal diseases: celiac disease, hepatitis B and C, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, reflux disease, etc. The main reason I am interested in gastroenterology is that I had previously done research on IBS and really wanted to interact with patients and hear first-hand what it was like to have IBS. Sure enough, throughout the day, there were several patients with IBS and other inflammatory bowel diseases. Many of the patients were there for either endoscopy or colonoscopy consultations or follow-ups; nonetheless, I was very lucky to observe a wide range of GI diseases that day. I saw how Dr. Korenman tried to diagnose certain patients, performed abdominal examinations, explained the preparation and risks of endoscopies and colonoscopies, and checked if treatments were working. During the consultations, Dr. Korenman would often turn to me and clarify certain terminology and explain to me what was happening; after each meeting, we would go back to her office and I would ask her questions about certain things that I did not understand like proton blockers, concierge medicine, etc. Meanwhile, she also had to do dictations for each patient to send to the patients’ primary physicians. I was really amazed by the fast pace of the job. Even at lunch, Dr. Korenman was working on catching up on dictations, but we did have some time to just talk about Princeton, her medical career, the business aspect of private practice, etc. After lunch, we continued to see patients and I was able to see some other aspects of what it means to be a doctor. I learned about how doctors have to handle delicate and emotional situations and deal with complex new treatments with significant side effects. By around 4:30 pm, we had seen all of Dr. Korenman’s patients for the day. I really enjoyed being exposed to so many different aspects of what it means to practice medicine; it was certainly a lot to take in. I was really excited to watch the procedures (colonoscopies and endoscopies) the next day.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Dr. Korenman and Zinan

Today, I arrived at the Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Associates Office, where Dr. Korenman performs procedures. When I got there at 8 am, I was required to sign another privacy form. Shortly afterwards, we went to the procedure room, where Dr. Korenman introduced me to the anesthetist and technician. The first two procedures I saw were endoscopies and I was able to compare and contrast the differences between healthy and inflamed upper GI tract. During the procedure, the patients are sedated; the anesthetist told me about the anesthesia she was using. I was able to not only see the vocal cords, esophagus, stomach and duodenum, but also see how sleep apnea can complicate an endoscopy. During the procedures, Dr. Korenman explained to me what she was doing and what we were seeing on the screen; we also had time for me to ask questions and the significance of nodes or to just talk about medical school, Princeton courses and how Princeton has changed over the past few decades. After each procedure, Dr. Korenman would fill out some forms on the computer and then we would inform the patients of their results, make sure they were feeling okay, and see if they have any additional questions. After the endoscopies, I was able to see several colonoscopies and a “double” (an endoscopy and colonoscopy). During the colonoscopies, we were able to see how effectively the preps worked at emptying the lower GI tract. Then, Dr. Korenman explained the significance of diverticulitis and hemorrhoids. I was also able to see the method for biopsies and removing colonic polyps. Before I knew it, we were done for the day.

During these two days, I was able to witness both consultations with patients and procedures. I found both days to be engaging in their own way; they offered two very different perspectives on practicing medicine. I found this Princeternship to be a very worthwhile experience. I accomplished my goal of learning more about gastroenterology and seeing first-hand how practicing medicine is very different from classes. After these two days, I am certainly more motivated to pursue a career in medicine and would strongly recommend this opportunity to students, who have not seen what it means to practice medicine. I would like to thank Dr. Korenman for taking time out of her busy schedule to accommodate me and for showing me what a career in medicine has to offer. In addition, I would like to thank Career Services for making this program possible.

 

 

Stanley Yuan ’14, Ganchi Plastic Surgery

January 30, 2012

Today, I shadowed Dr. Parham Ganchi ’87 at his clinic in Wayne, NJ. I was welcomed in by a member of his staff, who then gave me a tour of the clinic. It was an impressive display, from all of Dr. Ganchi’s diplomas to the spacious patient examination rooms to the private surgical operating room. Soon after, Dr. Ganchi himself arrived and we prepared for the long day that was to come. His schedule was packed, with patients coming in 15 minute intervals. There were a variety of procedures that patients were considering having, from cosmetic surgery to botox to laser/wrinkle hair removals. We also met with patients who were about to have their surgery, what he called a “pre-op”, to make sure that they were certain that they wanted to have the procedure. During the mini-breaks between patients, we talked about surgery and medicine in general, Princeton life, and our hobbies and lives outside of academics. Dr. Ganchi not only enlightened me in the realm of medicine but also on many topics that I wasn’t as well versed in, such as nutrition and the psychology of economics.

During the consultations, I really saw how engaging and compassionate Dr. Ganchi was as a doctor, making sure that all of his patients were fully informed on all the procedures and that they were comfortable in this environment. Many of the patients that were following up with him after their procedures were all extremely satisfied with their surgeries, which serves to demonstrate the great skill and dedication Dr. Ganchi brings to his field of medicine. It was really inspiring to see it all firsthand, and he will be the perfect role model for me to look up to as I pursue my own path towards medicine.

January 31, 2012

Stanley and Dr.Ganchi

Today was surgery day! I arrived bright and early to prep for surgery, getting scrubbed in and being informed on OR shadowing etiquette. I also met the anesthesiologist, Dr. Lee.
Both of the major surgeries done today were breast augmentation procedures, one with silicone implants and the other saline. He demonstrated the different techniques that went in with different implants, and showed his versatility and experience while performing surgeries on these patients. Throughout the surgery, Dr. Ganchi explained every step of the procedure and was very informative. Something that struck me was that he always had the patient’s best interest in mind. During the surgery, he was telling me that he had made a small incision under the breast of the patient, as opposed to a longer one, to prevent a larger scar from appearing. Even though that would make the surgery more complicated for him, he was more than willing to give the extra effort to make his patients satisfied with his work.

After the surgeries, I witnessed an earlobe repair surgery. The meticulousness and detail of his work showed through this procedure, as he slowly weaved back and forth with his stitches through the parts of the ear. I was surprised at how little time it took yet how natural the ear looked after the surgery, a testament to his skill and prowess.

I had come into this Princeternship on the fence about medicine and came out more positive than ever that medicine is the right track for me. I cannot thank Dr. Ganchi enough for all of the great wisdom and firsthand experience that I was able to obtain during these two days. I now have a great mentor and role model to follow and hopefully I will be able to open my own medical clinic some day. This Princeternship program was an amazing experience; the shadowing was more in depth than anything I had ever done and scrubbing into surgery for the first time was breathtaking. Everybody was really inviting and compassionate and really made me feel at home at the clinic. I would recommend this program to anybody that is unsure about medicine, because this will definitely help you make up your mind!

Trap Yates ’14, Google

Clutching my piping hot coffee, I peered out of the Starbucks, straining to see the far end of the building that dominated the entirety of the block across the street. From my perspective it was impossible to do so, creating the illusion that the structure went on forever. This perception was obviously misleading. The edifice that houses Google’s New York office, the company’s second largest, is not infinite, merely massive. After spending a day with Googlers in the office, however, I’m not so sure the same clarification can be made regarding the ambitions, and the potential, of the company they comprise.

In the years since its foundation, Google has turned a kooky numerical value into a household word. As such, I was clearly aware of the company’s importance as I undertook the day’s adventures, but the point was merely hammered home as Seyi, the other Princetern, and I stepped off the elevator to find ourselves caught up in packs of tourists applying their visitor pass stickers. Combined with the sight of employees zooming by on scooters, being with my fellow visitors ratcheted up my excitement several notches. I felt I’d stepped into one of the coolest places to work in the world. I don’t think I was wrong.

Raj Hathiramani ’07 was our host for the day, which began with a brief look around a few floors of the office. The Google workspace is in of itself a work of art. Open and free flowing, it makes the most out of the unique architecture of its space, which used to be home to the Port Authority. As Raj pointed out, very few of Google’s employees have closed offices, and truly opaque doors are almost nonexistent. It is truly a communal workspace, conducive to interaction, cooperation, and lots of hard work. This atmosphere is intensified by the regular presence of incredibly well stocked snack bars and lounge areas, complete with professional grade espresso machines, for which there is an introductory operating class. The first of these areas that we walked through has more Legos than I have ever seen in my life, and colorful toys and games are a ubiquitous presence around the office. Even though I didn’t actually see any Googlers playing with them, by their very presence they lightened the mood of the space, suffusing it with a liveliness that seemed to make its way into all of the bustling employees.

After our brief look around, we sat in one of these community spaces to chat a bit more about Raj’s position within Google’s Sales Analytics department. Particularly fascinating was his explanation of AdWords, a product I knew very little about. Seeing the inside workings of AdWords gave me a new appreciation for the technology I take for granted, and the ways in which my jumps around the internet are quantified, noted, and then used to optimize my advertising experience, both while searching Google and while perusing more generally. The general Internet advertising market is poised for explosive growth, much of which is being spurred by the work taking place at Google. Raj discussed these developments, as well as his role in a small global team that conducts revenue analysis and optimization for the display business, formulating recommendations for sales and product teams based on their findings.

This team-focus was also a theme of the day, as we met with several of Raj’s co-workers to discuss their roles in Google. The first such meeting of the day was with Lauren Carpenter ’06, a Senior Account Manager who works with display ads, which include the fun banners that you may have seen above YouTube videos. Lauren spoke to us a bit about how she pitches display ads, strategies she uses to build client relationships, how her Princeton experience has informed and contributed to her work at Google, and why the orchestra she runs and plays in outside of work is named after King Herod’s daughter. It was the first of what would prove to be several engaging, informative encounters with Googlers.

The second was with Jesse, an Account Director at invitemedia, an organization Google recently acquired.  He was able to talk to us about some of the challenges of creating and running a start-up, a process he has been intimately involved with several times, and some of the details of display-ad trading. The easiest translation he made for my layman’s ear was that display ads can be traded much like stocks, and that his particular work has been in inventing and polishing systems whereby this trading takes place. It was very cutting-edge stuff, and was another terrific opportunity to glance behind the curtain of Oz.

After these meetings and a bit of general question time with Raj, we headed to Google’s cafeteria for lunch. I was in no way prepared for the bountiful cornucopia of delectable edibles that awaited me, and I think an employee or two actually confused my eyes for the cafeteria’s plates as I ogled at the plentiful options. To avoid too extensive a reverie, it will suffice to say lunch was delicious. We were also able to chat with Raj a bit more about his Princeton experience, including his time as an RCA and with Naacho, his international job experience, and his Ironman training. I found out later that he was literally a legendary RCA, and the description for his old room in Walker mentions him specifically as one of the room’s greatest residents: quite an inspirational figure for a bushy-tailed Princeton sophomore.

From lunch we surveyed a bit more of the office while continuing our discussion, including a jaunt to a digital library that may have been the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. The entire wall is a screen depicting a circular bookcase, which one rotates with a simple wave of your hand along the screen’s surface. Select a book, and settle in. There were also nap-pods behind the shelves, although evidently for lighting, noise, and heat reasons they are inferior to the napping stations that are installed a bit higher in the building. This kind of delicate, detail-oriented care for employee wellness amazed me throughout the day, and I wouldn’t hate to see some of these elements adopted in areas around campus, for instance, in my common room.

We had a chance to look at the engineering side of things when we met with Michael Schidlowsky ‘01 who works on Google Docs. Although some of the technical things he went into were somewhat over my head, he presented us with a fresh perspective on Google, and the ways in which a Princeton education can impact work experience. He also proved to be a font of general advice, some of which I have already taken, and more of which I intend to pursue in the futureTo wrap up the day, we met with Arnaud, who works with Google.org, the nonprofit arm of Google that manages a fairly huge amount of non-profit work. I had no idea what Google.org was until doing a bit of research on Google for this Princeternship, and I was fascinated to hear more about the kind of support Google has for nonprofits, as well as its own programs. It is definitely a resource that I will be keeping in mind as I consider work in a nonprofit sector.

And with that our day at Google wound to a close. It was a fairly revelatory experience, and one I am incredibly thankful to have had. It was further confirmation that the sort of skills we learn here at Princeton, and particularly those acquired outside of class, can be put to use in a business setting. Google is exactly the kind of casual but hard-working environment I find myself drawn to and inspired by, and being surrounded by thousands of motivated, dedicated people going about their work was an invigorating experience, providing just that extra bit of motivation to get through the finals grind.

Mengyi Xu ’14, Civic Consulting Alliance

Mengyi and Alex Sherman

I met with my host Mr. Alexander Gail Sherman ‘97 a couple of days prior to starting the actual Princeternship at his office on the 43rd floor of the Chase Tower. I have always had trouble with navigating around high-rise buildings, and of course, I got lost finding the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA). It was a brief meeting for me to introduce myself and for Mr. Sherman to tell me about his work as a principal at the CCA. It is always nice to talk to alums because one is sure to find that nothing at Princeton has really changed. Mr. Sherman showed me his calendar for the rest of the week and we decided on the dates for me to come in and explore what pro bono consulting really means. I was also glad to chat with one of the newer fellows at CCA who just graduated from college last year. It was very interesting to hear about her career choices and why she chose CCA!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

After having finished judging a science fair at my high school, I took the Brown Line train to downtown and got off where Mr. Sherman and I had set to meet in front of the City Hall. From there we  walked over to the headquarters of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to meet with their newly appointed Chief Safety and Security Officer Jadine Chou. While we waited, Mr. Sherman briefed me on some background information about this meeting, which was basically part of an ongoing conversation between CPS and CCA on working collaboratively to reduce youth violence in Chicago, especially in areas for which CPS is responsible. In fact, Ms. Chou had just returned from an on site investigation over a shooting that took place that morning at a CPS school. Ms. Chou really emphasized throughout the meeting that she wanted to take on a comprehensive approach in addressing this youth violence problem. Mr. Sherman asked her how CCA could help. This was really important, as Mr. Sherman later told me, because in this field, you always want to make sure you are clear about what your clients need and adjust your role accordingly. CCA is very unique in the sense that a lot of their staff members are on loan from other businesses and organizations, so a good understanding of the clients’ (for the most part the City of Chicago or Cook County) needs allows CCA to devise the most suitable strategic plans. CCA helps its clients communicate effectively with their other partners. For instance, during this meeting, Mr. Sherman advised Ms. Chou to frame the youth violence question in a way that would bring out the storyline and to set deadlines for implementing the specific ideas. What really struck me was the number of names that was brought up during the meeting as collaborators. For my first meeting experience with the CCA, I must say that I was deeply overwhelmed. I am sure that a lot of time gets spent preparing for these meetings, and my subsequent encounters during the Princeternship confirmed this.

Right afterwards, we met up with Kristen from CCA and headed together to a meeting a couple of blocks away at Accenture, a global management consulting firm. Three other people were waiting for us from Accenture and C Change, a strategic marketing agency. This meeting was for all three relevant parties to talk about an upcoming advertising campaign that C Change has been charged to create for Accenture about Accenture’s recent pro bono projects. Since CCA had been the main liaison for Accenture’s involvement in pro bono projects such as the city leadership transition and city college projects, Mr. Sherman’s inputs for the content of the video were critical. When I asked him how he manages to keep everything straight in his mind, especially given that he was having these meetings back to back, he told me that that’s why he started the meeting with a round of introductions. That’s a strategy that he has developed over the years, talking about the general mission of the CCA and his role within the organization is a good way for him to switch gears and refocus between meetings.

Then we went back to the CCA office and Mr. Sherman took some time to prepare the agenda for the next meeting with Felicia Davis, who is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety for the City of Chicago. At this meeting, which took place at City Hall, Mr. Sherman debriefed Ms. Davis on CPS’s priorities in the violence prevention effort. We were joined by Lincoln, another member of the CCA team. They discussed the agenda items for the upcoming city agency meeting on violence prevention and Mr. Sherman proposed to put together a PowerPoint presentation to better deliver their ideas at the meeting.

Right after the discussion with Ms. Davis, we went to the Office of the Cook County President Preckwinkle for a meeting with her chief of staff, Kurt Summers. At this meeting, they talked about the progress of STAR, which stands for “set targets, achieve results”, a Cook County initiative to set performance metrics for its various agencies. It is a collaboration that includes the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the Board President, County Agencies, employee unions and residents. I must say that it has been a very busy and eye-opening day for me. So much happened!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I had an early start today. I arrived at CCA at 7:30 am because Mr. Sherman had a conference call with a representative from Microsoft at 8:00 am. It was my first time seeing an actual conference call machine, so obviously I was very excited. The person representing Microsoft was a former military member who had worked on the security teams for the 1996 Olympics Games in Atlanta. He joined Microsoft’s department on homeland security and counter-terrorism after retiring from the military. I surely was amazed by the interesting people that I got to meet during this Princeternship!

CCA has been asked by the City of Chicago to coordinate the safety and security measures during the G8 and NATO meetings that are both taking place in Chicago in May of this year. So obviously, our contact was the perfect person to talk to. Our contact gave CCA a lot of very constructive suggestions in terms of finding the right people to staff these events including names of his former colleagues. He talked of the criticality of developing both preventive and reactionary plans of action, including logistic plans. Things like evacuation plans, responses to riots, and even the availability of respirators in hospitals are definitely not what one thinks about when talking about consulting, yet these are the things for which CCA has to prepare the relevant City agencies for the upcoming summits. This meeting really opened up my eyes to the complexity of CCA’s client cases – Mr. Sherman’s work is really about bringing experts from all relevant fields together and using his own expertise to facilitate collaborations to best address his clients’ needs. This was a mind blowing experience and I almost felt that I myself was learning to think about issues more critically, comprehensively and strategically – too bad that the conference call only lasted for an hour.

Then at 9:00 am, we went over to the City Hall to meet with Juliana Stratton, who is the Executive Director of the Cook County Judicial Advisory Council. This is one of the many meetings that revolve around the STAR initiative and ways to use it as a management tool for the relevant city agencies. During this meeting, Mr. Sherman and Juliana also discussed some details about the One Summer Chicago Program, which is an initiative that seeks to place high-risk youth (CPS students mostly) in jobs over the summer and consequently reduce violence in relevant communities. The program partners with city and county agencies as well as private sector businesses to identify suitable placement opportunities. Some of the issues discussed included who should be the target audience of this program (who is qualified, how is the database of eligible youth created and maintained, etc), how many spots will be offered, what types of programs should be offered, as well as concerns with engagement and evaluation. This was basically a preparation for the general meeting with relevant city agencies later in the afternoon.

Afterwards, Mr. Sherman had an hour or so to work on preparing materials and recommendations for his clients, such as a draft framing document that Ms. Chou requested at the meeting yesterday. Finally, the long-awaited One Summer Chicago Planning Meeting came around. I believe there were about 25 people in attendance, representing various city agencies and organizations that would be involved in or affected by the One Summer Chicago program. I was rather surprised but also glad to see some familiar faces around the otherwise somewhat intimidating conference room. After a customary round of introductions, the attendees jumped straight into the logistics of the initiative. Everything from the timeline of the placement process, youth qualifications to the management of the application portal to the impact of the program and whether or not it should be shaped into a year round program was talked about. I was very surprised that a group of this size was able to generate efficiently so many productive ideas.
 
Thursday, December 28, 2011
 
Today, I got to experience a different side of CCA, no longer so much running around between meetings but a quieter day at the office. I had expressed to Mr. Sherman earlier about my interest in the Chicago tourism offices merger project that some of his colleagues were working on, and so he introduced me to Kelly Ruppel, an associate principal at CCA. She gladly explained to me the project. She told me that currently there are two main agencies, Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture (COTC) and Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB), which one is a 501c3 non profit organization and the other a 501c6 membership based organization, they have overlapping roles for the city of Chicago tourism industry. Thus, it has been decided that it is in Chicago’s interest to consolidate the two and centralize resources to really market Chicago as a prime tourism destination. CCA has been charged to determine the exact procedure for the merger such as legal structure, etc. Ms. Ruppel asked me if I would be interested in helping her do some research on funding viability for the merged organization. I was thrilled to get this chance to experience first hand the work that they have to do on a daily basis. However, the actual task turned out to be much harder than expected. Finding the organizations’ past funding sources was definitely not as obvious as it might sound and reading through their financial statements to find clues was difficult. After a morning of Googling and searching on the websites of foundations (MacArthur, Joyce, Prizker, etc), I finally came up with a good list of past grants awarded to the COTC. Hopefully, it would be useful for the project.

Overall, I really enjoyed this Princeternship as it allowed me to experience the daily activities of a field that I didn’t even know existed before this winter. Before meeting Mr. Sherman, I had no idea that pro bono and consulting are compatible concepts that one could put together in one phrase, but after this Princeternship, I can’t but marvel at the potential of this exciting field. Thanks to Career Services for giving me this opportunity and thanks to Mr. Sherman for allowing me to be your shadow at all your meetings! I had a great time at CCA!

 

Catherine Wu ’15, AngelBeat

I arrived in the quaint town of Roslyn, New York on Tuesday afternoon. Angelbeat is a small company based out of CEO Ron Gerber ‘82’s house. He told me the story of Jetblue, the airline company known for its generous leg room, and how it has no central headquarters. While Jetblue is based in New York, it hires people (mainly housewives) from all over the US for customer service. There is no need to invest in a centralized building; instead, they invest in technology that efficiently directs calls to the general customer service line to these employees all over the country. Not only is it cheaper in the long run, but it’s also more convenient for the employees because they can work at home, and Jetblue can hire a larger range of people without being constricted to the local vicinity.

Angelbeat is run in a similar way with Ron and 5 other employees from all over the US. As he put it, Ron is a “high-tech party planner.” In fact, if you’re interested, here’s a link to the itinerary of an upcoming event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.http://www.angelbeat.com/events/418/

So what does a day in the life of CEO Ron Gerber ’82 look like?
As the main employee of an entire company, he spends a lot of his time dealing with the nitty gritty details to make sure his events go smoothly. A lot of his day is dedicated to personally calling people from the enormous database he has compiled of relevant professionals from all over the country. Communication is essential in this job; being able to sell his events to these people and convince them to come is the premise of his job. Because his job relies so much on these phone calls, my days mainly consisted of listening in on Ron’s phone calls and seeing how he dealt with customers on a daily basis, picking up interesting tips and tidbits.

Ron Gerber and Catherine

That is what Ron does on a daily basis. As for me, the intern, I actually got to help Ron start planning his cyberbullying workshop. With the recent tragedies regarding cyber bullying primarily over social networks like Facebook, parents are without a doubt worried about their child’s safety. Thus, he plans to hold these events and bring representatives from Facebook and the local Attorney General to come talk about what they are doing to address this danger. He plans to hold one in NYC and if all goes well, another one in the San Francisco Bay Area near Facebook’s headquarters (also known as my hometown)

The first step is to reach the right people. One of Ron’s strategies is to contact schools in the area and have them advertise the workshop. Not only would parents be more receptive to a workshop recommended by the school rather than a random startup, but the school would know the best way to pass along the information to parents. Thus, my task was to start compiling a database of contact information for school authorities, the “cyberbullying workshop equivalent” of his regular database for IT events. I would visit school websites and sleuth around, looking for the contact information for the PTA (ideally), the principal, the Director of Technology, the Director of Communications, the local school board, or anyone who seemed pertinent. The more contacts, the more likely you’ll find the right person to talk to about this event. By the end of my time at Angelbeat, I became quite adept at finding relevant contact information; in fact, I finished entering all the private schools in NYC and most of the schools in the Bay Area!

Overall, I learned a lot and had a fun time. Ron was really nice and helpful, making sure all my (many) questions were answered and giving me good future career advice. I listened in on all his conversations as I compiled the database of school contacts, and he made sure to explain what he was doing and why he was doing it. I witnessed firsthand what Ron does every day and how small startups like Angelbeat worked. It was really interesting and I loved the experiencing the real work world!

On a side note, after each work day was over, I got to play with Ron’s children and watch their kiddie shows (Pokemon is my guilty pleasure).

Brendan Wright ’15, RedVision

My Princeternship was hosted by Joe Ross ‘97, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of RedVision.  RedVision provides “Real Property Research solutions”, including title searches.  This information is needed whenever properties are sold.  Banks need to know the details of any mortgage on the property, as well as other financial documents (home equity loans, car loans gone awry, etc.) that are tied to the property.  These documents are stored in filing cabinets scattered in municipalities across the country, making the search process tedious and time-consuming.  That’s where RedVision comes in.  They have been working for years to make these documents available online in a searchable format.

I spent most of my day with Antony Karounis (Technical Director, Plant Data Technologies).  He introduced me to everyone in the software engineering department before explaining the problem in the title search market that RedVision aims to solve.  He also explained agile software development.  On a basic level, agile consists of 2-4 week “sprints” where developers try to accomplish assigned tasks.  These tasks are chosen in a pre-sprint meeting from a backlog of all tasks that the group plans to address eventually.  The group reconvenes post-sprint to decide if the sprint was a success or a failure, and to identify areas for improvement.

Before lunch, I had the chance to observe one of the pre-sprint meetings.  Much of it was over my head, as I had only a basic understanding of the company–not an in-depth understanding of their products, the bugs therein, and the acronyms they used on a daily basis.  That being said, it was certainly worthwhile to see the approach Mr. Karounis used to coordinate the group.  I’ve only worked on small projects with at most a couple of friends, so I’d never really thought about the procedures required to coordinate a larger group on a project that has been ongoing for years.

Brendan and Joe Ross

Mr. Karounis treated me to lunch at an Indian buffet with about 8 other employees (including most of the developers).  I exchanged stories about Princeton with two of the employees who had graduated just last year.  Our conversation continued upon returning to the office, where they told me about their roles in the company, why they’d chosen to work there, and how they had been very surprised to see each other when they both started work at RedVision on the same day.  They also gave me some school-based advice, such as how they’d chosen their majors (both computer science) and which courses they recommended.

Next, I met with two employees who had been at RedVision for a few years.  We talked mostly about what they liked and disliked about the programming industry in general.  The group that had met in the morning then reassembled to reflect on the sprint that had just ended.  This was similar to the morning session for me: it was very technical, but provided insight into the agile development process.

Finally, I met with Mr. Ross to discuss RedVision’s history and his career path.  We also chatted about Princeton, and how much it had changed since his graduation.  After snapping a few photos for the blog, Mr. Karounis gave me a ride to the bus stop, where I began the lengthy commute from Parsippany to Princeton, arriving just in time to catch dinner with two minutes to spare.

Aprilee Velez ’12, Dominion Fertility

Day 1

Dr. Gordon’s days usually start rather early, at 7:30am. Many of his patients stop by before they head to work so mornings are quite busy at Dominion Fertility. I saw Dr. Gordon do a lot of patient monitoring with ultrasounds. Most times the ultrasound was used to check on the quality and number of eggs available. They were also used to check that everything looked normal before treatment could be started, and several times I was able to see babies on the monitor. When the baby has reached a certain number of weeks and a heartbeat can be detected, the patient is sent back to her normal OBGYN with hopes for a healthy, successful pregnancy. At lunchtime we went to INOVA Fairfax Hospital, where Dr. Gordon spoke to resident OBGYN applicants about the great facilities available there. In the afternoon Dr. Gordon did more monitoring, along with patient consultations to discuss their future treatment. I was also able to see a hysterosalpingogram – an x-ray exam that uses fluorescent dye to image the uterus and fallopian tubes in order to detect scarring – at a hospital.

Day 2

In the morning I went with Dr. Gordon to INOVA Fairfax, where he gave a talk to residents on reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Then we went to the hospital’s business meeting, where administrators talked about statistics on patient satisfaction and plans for improving the hospital. I sat in on some more patient consults. We went to an OBGYN office in Reston where Dr. Gordon sometimes sees a small number of patients for consults, but does not actually perform any treatment. I was also able to see a natural cycle IVF egg collection. The embryologist showed me the egg once he had found it in the fractions. In the afternoon a very grateful patient of Dr. Gordon’s came in with cookies to celebrate her daughter’s first birthday.

Day 3

Dr. Gordon again did patient monitoring and consults to discuss a plan of action. We spent some time in the new office in Fairfax, which just opened at the end of last year. At the main office I was able to see an IUI and two more egg retrievals. Both patients were doing natural cycle IVF, and unfortunately the egg could not be found for one woman.

One of the most attractive things about working in reproductive endocrinology is that you really get to know your patients. Since women come in often for monitoring you are always aware of what is going on with them. With just three days at Dominion Fertility I started to recognize some of the women and knew when a certain test proved encouraging or discouraging. This Princeternship was so much more than I expected. I learned about life as a resident (mostly as an OBGYN resident), hospital administration, and infertility treatment. I saw elated women that were so happy to be pregnant, and I saw disappointed women whose treatment did not work out. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to spend this time with Dr. Gordon.