My Princeternship experience commenced with a very delicious lunch the day before the internship started. After briefly meeting the CEO of PAST, Mr. Joe Studholme ’84, one of the other Princeterns, Katherine Lee ’17, and I had lunch with Mr. Ahmet Bayazitoglu and Mr. Doug Blair, two employees of PAST Inc., who told us more about the company and what we would be doing. Mr. Bayazitoglu and Mr. Blair told us about the aims of PAST over a delicious meal at an Indian restaurant in Princeton. They explained that their main goal is efficiency and described their product and its objective. Katherine and I told them a little about ourselves, and we talked about what we were studying at Princeton. It was a great lunch, and I learned a lot of valuable information about the company. PAST Inc. utilizes technology to provide better patient information to doctors regarding drug dosages and prescriptions. Its objective is to combat the high number of annual deaths that are due to errors in drug prescription. The present system of recording medical data for patients, based on tabulation of data, is inefficient and truthfully outdated. I was excited to begin working with the individuals at PAST and helping them create a better system.
Katherine and I were joined by Deborah Sandoval ’16, the third Princetern who would be part of the team. We arrived at the office at 10 am, where we formally met Mr. Studholme and were introduced to everyone else in the company. We set up shop in the conference room of the PAST office, where Mr. Studholme showed the three of us a presentation with much more detail on the aims of the company and their future outlook. He also talked a little about himself and his previous success with another startup. We got to see the company’s actual product as well as the market potential for it. We were told about the parts of the final product that were still under construction and with which we would be working. One of the aspects he focused on was a part of the program that they hoped could read data from a Fitbit and give doctors useful information about the patient wearing the device. After this we were given an assignment to work on. The goal of the assignment was to use mock Fitbit data and create two graphs that could be incorporated into the design of the final product; one graph would show the fitness level of a patient, as calculated with the information obtained from the Fitbit, and the other would chart doctor efficiency by using the fitness data from the first graph and showing how much the health of the patient improved or worsened with the prescribed amount of drug dosage. Mr. Studholme had a meeting, so Deborah, Katherine, and I worked diligently for the rest of the day, taking a lunch break at Panera!
My fellow Princeterns and I arrived at the office ready to continue working on the project from Day 1. We got the opportunity to meet with the developers of the product, who showed us the code behind the application. We worked with the developers on thinking of how to actually get what we had designed into the company’s application. Upon speaking to them, we decided that it might be a good idea to have fitness data in a separate graph from the main chart that contained the prescription information. The reason for this is that we felt that the graph was going to be too cluttered with added information. Deborah, Katherine, and I prepared a presentation for Mr. Studholme to show him what we had developed. Upon presenting, he gave us advice on the way we could fix our graphs. We had calculated the fitness level using a formula involving steps taken and hours active, but Mr. Studholme recommended that we only take into account steps taken and weight, for those were the only two things that the Fitbit could truly record accurately. We began working on new, better graphs and took a lunch break. We were invited to lunch by the company, and we helped everyone at PAST by going to CVS and getting some soft drinks to fill the fridge.
After sharing some great stories at lunch and getting to know each other better, we decided to take a new approach for the models we were to make, heeding the advice of Mr. Studholme and creating a new equation for the fitness level involving steps taken by the individual. We got three mock patients and created data for an entire year, date consistent with the mock patient data the developers had hard coded into the product in order to test it. We made graphs for steps taken and weight and prepared a PowerPoint for a presentation we would have the next day.
Traversing through the cold and snowy January weather, we got to the office at 10 am for the third and final day of our Princeternship. Mr. Studholme was in a presentation in Boston, so we had a conference call with everyone in the company. Using a PowerPoint presentation, we presented our ideas. We were able to superimpose our fitness level graph as well as our data for weight on top of the currently existing primary chart in the application. We also made separate graphs to allow them to see which might be a better option. We were given some final suggestions and comments and proceeded to make our final product. We decided to consider sleep, as suggested by one of the company members during the conference call, for some drugs may have effects or side-effects related to sleeping and it would be good for a doctor to be able to get this kind of information from the Fitbit. We also added the ability to toggle the data, so that the doctor could have the option of superimposing graphs of fitness, weight, or sleep on top of the already existing prescription information (while at the same time having the option of toggling the curves on and off to prevent the graph from always being cluttered). Our final product was a vast improvement over our initial one, and we were happy with what we had learned.
Deborah, Katherine, and I went to lunch at Cheeburger Cheeburger, and reflected upon the amazing opportunity we had been granted. We all agreed that it had been a really fun and enlightening three days. Upon returning, we made our final presentation to Doug, and then spent some time talking to him and Ahmet about their role in the company and what they do. This was very intriguing, and I was able to gain a lot of valuable information as we asked questions and they answered. The day ended with my fellow Princeterns and I taking a picture together, one that encompassed our time there. Eventually we parted way, a bittersweet ending to a fantastic three days at PAST!
I am incredibly happy I was able to participate in this amazing Princeternship. I had a great time and learned a lot. Mr. Studholme’s lesson on entrepreneurship and startups was very interesting to me because I am interested in possibly starting my own business when I gradate. Moreover, I loved talking to Doug and Ahmet about their roles and learning from them. I came in with the intention of making this a learning experience, and I think that I achieved my goal. Moreover, I would not have gotten as much out of this Princeternship had it not been for Deborah and Katherine. They were amazing partners, and were very responsible and friendly. We were able to have some great conversations and have fun while being very productive. It was a great team.
I am very grateful for the amazing opportunity granted to me. I would like to thank Career Services and everyone involved for providing me with this opportunity and Mr. Joe Studholme and all at PAST, Inc. for teaching me so much and making my stay such a wonderful and priceless experience.