Four years ago, a former intern from Vuclip decided to drop out of the University of Michigan and start a company. With a small investment from Vuclip’s CEO, Nickhil Jakatdar, the student now runs a successful business.
For interns in the Silicon Valley, this is the ideal result of a summer internship. But high schoolers’ experiences are as varied as the companies they work at. For two companies, Vuclip and Sokikom, high school interns contribute to their companies in drastically different ways.
According to the Sokikom’s Director of Teacher Happiness Jose Magana, interns at the educational technology company, do what is stereotypically expected of an internship experience, helping the company with “basic and entry-level” tasks such as entering data or testing products.
On the other hand, at Vuclip, a mobile video service, interns work individually for a two-month period on projects assigned by a mentor at the company rather than working for Vuclip in the conventional sense.
“We try to give [interns] a very specific practical problem that they can solve from beginning to end,” Jakatdar said. “We had a high school intern who was interested in marketing, and we said ‘Figure out a way to build a user base of 1000 teenagers.’ By the end of the summer, he had about 1200 teenagers sign-up for his service.”
At the end of the summer, Vuclip interns present their project and lessons learned to their peers and parents. The Vuclip internship is designed as solely a learning experience instead of a typical work-based internship in which interns do various tasks, such as data entry, for the company.
“In two months we don’t believe the intern can learn so much about the company to contribute [to the organization] in a meaningful way,” Jakatdar said. “I view [internships] as a way to serves [students] in the long-term.”
Sokikom also looks to make the internship a learning experience. Instead of educating through projects, however, Sokikom hopes interns gain important work experience on the job.
“When they get to their first career they’ll definitely have an advantage because they don’t have to learn those basic things that other people have to [spend time on],” Magana said.
Along with work experience, Sokikom hopes their interns will get a well-rounded experience in all sectors of tech, from marketing to customer support. Like Sokikom, Vuclip believes that interns benefit the most when they learn lessons in various fields from computer science to marketing, as all projects requiring skills in all fields.
While Sokikom provides more work experience and Vuclip helps their interns critically think, both companies look to prepare their interns for the future.