This is part of a series of posts from two MIT students—Taylor Yates MBA ’14 and Shawn Wen ’13—involved in the 2013 Student/Alumni Externship Program, which connects current students with alumni in workplaces worldwide during MIT’s Independent Activities Period. These bloggers will report on what they learn and how the experience informs their career journeys. Alumni, learn how to get involved as a sponsor. Read the other posts in this series.
Guest Blogger: Taylor Yates MBA ’14
Extern sponsor: Yue Cathy Chang MBA ’06, SM ’06
Company: FeedZai, Redwood City, CA
Externship: business development and marketing associate
It’s amazing how much you can learn in a week at a start-up.
Last Monday, I had no idea what America’s payments industry looked like, despite having a degree in economics and finance. Now, through my externship at FeedZai and with help from my externship sponsor, I’m starting to speak a whole new language.
I’ve been spending sunny California days listening to my favorite 80’s playlists as I read reports about payment processing and fraud, searching for where exactly FeedZai fits in. I had grand aspirations when I started that somehow I could answer all of the company’s key strategic questions. I’ve been humbled by the complexity and sheer scale of the task.
FeedZai’s CEO, Nuno Sebastiao, told me once that venture capitalists don’t back start-ups that might be the next $50 million success story; they back companies that might be the next billion dollar success story. That’s a whole lot of money to be made, and it’s my job to find out where it might be.
I’ve made time to learn as much as I can from the team around me. Cathy and Nuno have shared spectacular insights that I could only get from working at a start-up in an IAP externship. For example, it is incredibly difficult to recruit talent in a start-up in the US because our career-oriented culture makes Americans exceptionally skilled interviewees. While this is good for the job applicants, it presents a challenge for a CEO trying to build the team that will drive them to success.
With only two weeks left in my externship, I am looking forward to seeing my work come to fruition and make an impact on a company I have come to deeply respect.