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).