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“Start up” an internship at NYU Tandon’s Future Labs

Future Labs office.

NYU Tandon student interns gain valuable experience at the Future Labs, which house early-stage startups focused on AI, digital media, clean energy, and other world-changing tech.

NYU Tandon’s Future Labs, the school’s network of business incubators and accelerators, can provide startups with several benefits, including free or subsidized office space, pro bono legal advice, and introduction to venture capitalists. Among those perks is one unique to being housed directly in a university community: a large pool of bright students eager to prove themselves as interns.

What’s in it for the interns? A chance to earn three credits a semester (for up to two semesters) while gaining invaluable experiential learning and — if the experience of former Future Labs interns is any indication — a whole lot more. 

Linda

Linda Kamau

Company: I was an intern at Black Sands Entertainment, which was established by two military veterans in 2016 to develop a comic book series called “Kids 2 Kings.” It’s grown from there and has since released several comics, chapter books, and picture books aimed at black families.  

My job: I was in charge of managing social media efforts, so I posted a lot on Facebook and Instagram, and I was also involved in planning advertising campaigns. I got to attend several events, like ComicCon, which I had never been to before, in order to handle social media there and help run the booth.

What I learned: Because Black Sands is a small company, even though my main job was to do social media, I got to be involved in several aspects, even sales. There’s an educational component to the company as well, because part of their social mission is to teach other aspiring creators to self-publish their work, so I learned a lot about the process of publishing. 

What’s next: I’m an Integrated Digital Media student, and I’m really interested in animation, so that’s what I hope to pursue after graduation. Maybe down the line there will even be opportunities to collaborate with Black Sands.

Daisy Li

Daisy Li 

Company: I interned at a mobility startup called Dollaride, which provides a ridesharing technology platform for dollar vans — informal private ride-sharing networks of transportation for people who live in transit deserts.

My job: I worked on automating investor reports and performing quality assurance via manual and automated testing.

What I learned: Working for a startup can be hard but rewarding. Because everyone in Dollaride has clear roles and expectations, I was able to take full ownership of my work from start to finish and was able to see the direct impact I made. 

Because the company includes employees in different locations and time zones, team cohesion and cooperation is especially important, so I developed a good understanding of how important communication and transparency are. 

What’s next: I’ll be working at JPMorgan as a software engineer, and I chose a team that encourages everyone to work on both the front end and back end in order to gain a full understanding of the product. Just as at Dollaride, I’ll be allowed to take full ownership of my work, and I’m sure I’ll put everything I learned there to use in my new role.

Kevin Perez

Kevin Perez 

Company: I spent the fall semester of 2019 at Scanifly, which is using drone technology and artificial intelligence to make the design and installation of solar-energy systems more efficient and cost-effective.

My job: I’m a software engineer on the team that worked on integrating new image processing tools in our apps backend. Since I'm a computer science major with a background in 3D printing and scanning technologies, I became involved in the photogrammetry engine, which uses photographic images (in this case captured by drones) to build 3D models with true-to-life accuracy. There is AI that is then used to analyze sun and shade as well as other factors that go into installing solar panels, allowing designers to plan optimal systems. My work allowed the company to scale up and take on bigger, more complex jobs.

What I learned: Working for a startup had many advantages. For one thing, I had the chance to work directly with the CEO and COO, something that would never happen in a large, established company. When you’re involved on that level, it’s easy to see the impact you’re making on the business, which is very gratifying. 

What’s next: Before graduating I’d like to complete another semester as an intern at Scanifly, since the school does grant academic credit for up to two semesters. After graduating, maybe there’d be an actual job there, and if so, I’d love the chance because it’s a great company, and I feel very proud of my work there. Even if that’s not possible, I know that I want to do back-end engineering now, so my experience has helped target my job search. 

Sometime in the future, I wouldn’t rule out doing something entrepreneurial myself. I’ve seen how exciting that can be!

Jeong Soo Yi

Jeong Soo Yi 

Company: I interned at ClearOPS, which is a startup dedicated to helping vendors having to respond to inquiries about their data privacy and cybersecurity practices. With security questionnaires becoming more and more frequent thanks to data privacy regulations, and the average company spending about 15,000 hours per year completing assessments, the ClearOPS mission is to simplify the due diligence process and elevate privacy and security awareness.

My job: As a computer engineering major, I worked on a privacy management file for Mozilla. My aim was to ensure that if you were using a program like Firefox, your data would remain secure.

What I learned: I got to see the big picture on a project – everything from basic planning to precautions and restrictions to implementation. That was one of the major benefits of being at a startup. Another benefit is that meetings were smaller, so everyone had a chance to get their ideas and opinions heard. That was a great learning experience, and it showed me how gratifying it is to be a vital, respected member of a team.  

What’s next: I’m a senior, so foremost, of course, is finding a job. I’ve been making use of TandonConnect, so that’s a big help. I’m very detail-oriented and have good communications skills, so I’m hoping those qualities will make me an attractive candidate. Ideally, I’d like a position that allows me to identify a problem and find the most effective solution; that’s the process I enjoy the most as a computer engineer.