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
Small confession: I didn’t know that “deck” meant “PowerPoint presentation” before business school…. How far I’ve come. Today I presented my very own deck to, among others, FeedZai’s founders.
I shed more than a little bit of sweat—and maybe a few tears—putting together my presentation, the culmination of my IAP externship. I knew the audience would be knowledgeable and engaged; founders invest too much of their own time and money to leave room for nonsense and BS. This was high in my mind as I tried to deliver tangible value through my research.
That’s a tall order when you’re asked to master the entire payments processing industry in a matter of weeks. As my first job in Silicon Valley, how this might impact my, MIT’s, and the MBA’s reputation was not lost on me. The last thing I wanted was for my audience to walk away saying “Well, that was disappointing.”
Then again, tall orders are MIT’s specialty.
Through the help of my IAP sponsor, Cathy Chang, and the frameworks I learned at MIT Sloan, I put together a presentation that was fairly well received. Hearing myself speak was somewhat surreal, I could not believe how confidently I detailed a subject that only a few weeks ago had been as unfamiliar as California itself. Nor could I believe how confidently I was able to suggest a course of action to a group that, for all intents and purposes, had no reason to listen to me.
I suppose that is the power of these externships. Not only have I learned a great deal about FeedZai’s business, I’ve learned an enormous amount about what it means to be an MIT student. People simply assume you’re smart and can do the tough jobs. The responsibility of carrying those expectations gracefully is very humbling. Learning that was at least as valuable as learning about tech start-ups.
Ultimately the audience was very happy with my analysis and identified interesting areas for further research. I really could not have asked for a better outcome and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that FeedZai, the Student/Alumni Externship program, and Cathy gave me. Thanks for reading!