This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Alessandro Prospato, WH ’22
This past summer I had the opportunity to intern at Scrintal—a startup based in Stockholm, Sweden. Scrintal is an early-stage startup building the most intuitive knowledge management system for researchers and students. While the internship was remote due to the pandemic, I was incredibly grateful to have received a well-rounded internship program thanks to the Virtual Internships Abroad program with Career Services funding.
One of the most exciting aspects was the fact I was working with a very early-stage company that was still developing their product. My brother and I had created and launched a startup in high school, and I was eager to get back onto the ground floor of a company. Over the next eight weeks, I would slowly see the product gain more features and compatibility a lot of which was due to my input and suggestions.
A lot of my experience prior to interning at Scrintal was in real estate, so it was a bit of a jump to get back into tech. I wanted to gain product management experience this summer and thought the VIA program would be a great opportunity to get hands-on experience that would have been more difficult to get at a large tech firm. There’s a saying in product management that it’s like “being the CEO of your own product” and after this summer, I can genuinely say I support that saying. One major part of my role was conducting interviews with potential users to see what aspects of the product were helpful, needed to be improved, were confusing, etc. This experience made me realize that as a product manager you constantly need to be able to put on your user hat and developer hat. Features that may seem native to you as developer can be confusing to your average user. In addition, I helped craft the ideal user with the founding team. In a startup, it’s incredibly important to know your target user from everything as simple as demographics to their psychographics, preferred channels, and especially challenges.
Whether it was communicating with the engineering team and knowing my suggestions were being implemented and discussed in real-time to working with the marketing team, it was a very well-rounded experience. In addition, I’m incredibly appreciative of the founding team at Scrintal who made it abundantly clear to me to just ask and you will receive. If I wanted to be more product focused one week and more marketing focused the next, that was possible and encouraged.
Ultimately, this summer provided me with great insight into what a career in product management entails and I can certainly see myself going down this path. I am excited to get more experience and potentially having my first job out of college in a product role at a startup or tech company. Although the pandemic did cause some strain due to remote work and a significant time difference between the office and myself, it was an enjoyable experience and I’m glad I was able to do it. Now I just have to make it to Sweden to meet the team and see the beautiful country in person!