Future entrepreneurs get hands-on experience at BEST startups

Interns from NYC's Summer Youth Program will return to school this fall with invaluable experience from six-weeks learning the ropes at tech and media startups. (Clockwise from left: Taylor Williams; James Dean; Michael Wills, Jr., president of Junior U, Emeek Prince; Marlon Baptiste; Chris Alvarez, managing director of Transcendent Enterprise.)

Three start-up companies in Polytechnic Institute of NYU’s BEST business incubator gave a group of local teenagers the chance to get much more than pocket money from their summer jobs this year.

Nathan Archer, president of X 1.0, a technology services startup that employed five 14- and 15-year-old interns through New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program says, “The old philosophy was to go to school, get an education, and get a job. My philosophy is to go to school, get an education, learn a skill and turn it into a business.”

Mr. Archer’s interns took on office tasks like filing, answering telephones, and sending email blasts. They also learned the basics of marketing plans, network management, and computer hardware.

When asked if they want to own their own businesses after working at X 1.0, Mr. Archer’s interns unanimously and immediately said “yes.” Many said they specifically wanted to work with computers.

Like Mr. Archer, Chris Alvarez, managing director of Transcendent Enterprise, a media production startup, and Michael Wills, Jr., president of Junior U, creator of a social networking application for students and teachers, are also graduates of NYC’s Summer Youth Program.

The first assignment Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Wills gave their four interns who ranged in age from 14 - 21 was to develop a concept and a script for a movie. One team came up with an anti-smoking film and the other, a basketball documentary. They also helped to script, cast and shoot Mr. Alvarez’s pilot television show “First Impressions.”

Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Wills gave their interns freedom to explore an independent project during their six-week internship. Two students focused on virtual stock trading, one on programming, and 14-year-old Taylor Williams who is interested in public relations started the blog FashionDayCapital.blogspot.com. Ms. Williams has shown to be a natural at the medium and Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Wills want to teach her how to monetize her blog.

Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Wills see themselves as mentors for their interns and hope to steer them towards professional success. They helped them write resumes and prepare presentations summarizing their internship experiences.

The mid-twenty-year-olds also see themselves as a source of inspiration. Mr. Wills said, “We’re proof for these kids that you can own your own, successful business at a young age.”

Learn more:
BEST and its start-up tenants
NYC Department of Youth and Community Development Summer Youth Program