Each summer, students from the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics gain valuable professional-level exposure through internships. This year, young scholars were able to traverse the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic by pursuing an array of internships, externships and other professional development opportunities. Each profile of this series will detail a Lerner student’s experiences working on business-oriented projects.
Mandy Zicherman, Class of 2023 entrepreneurship and management double major with a minor in disability studies, spent her summer as an operations specialist at Venture For America.
Lerner: How did you find out about this internship? Why did you choose it?
Zicherman: I learned about this internship through the Signature Internship Program for entrepreneurship majors that is run by Professor Ted Foltyn. I chose this internship because it would allow me to gain experience working at an entrepreneurial company and because it would also provide valuable insights into Venture For America’s Fellowship Program for recent college graduates.
Lerner: Did the coronavirus pandemic impact your internship search and working experience? If so, how?
Zicherman: Training camp is Venture For America’s summer training program for new fellows, while Redux is for fellows at the one-year mark of their two-year fellowship. Although traditionally an in-person program, Covid-19 caused training camp and Redux to be held virtually the past two years. Even though my internship was 100% virtual, I was able to meet many different Venture For America team members. Venture For America did an incredible job keeping up the team culture through activities such as weekly full team “French Toast Friday” meetings. As a result of the training camp and Redux programming being fully virtual, I became very good at managing complex Zoom sessions and was able to interact with more team members and speakers than would have been possible in an in-person setting.
Lerner: What did you learn from this internship that you think you would not have learned elsewhere?
Zicherman: Through my internship, I learned how to run very effective virtual programs. I acquired a lot of project management and logistic skills that I will be able to apply to future roles. As a result of working with many different technology platforms during my internship, I learned the importance of using platforms and tools that can integrate with each other to maximize efficiency and minimize errors.
Lerner: What is the most exciting task or project that you have done or are currently doing in your role?
Zicherman: One of the most exciting tasks that I completed was running the entire Credo process from start to finish. In fact, I was known as the CEO of Credos. Credos are when fellows share a two-to-three-minute story that relates to one of Venture For America’s five principles and values. It was very exciting to hear the fellows give their Credos after spending time helping them prepare.
Lerner: What is an example of a time where you were able to apply what you’ve learned at Lerner to your role?
Zicherman: I worked with Google Sheets, Excel and Airtable a lot in my role as an operations specialist and I was able to apply a lot of what I learned in MISY 160 to my assignments. Even though the formulas sometimes varied, the skills I gained in MISY 160 easily transferred between platforms.
Lerner: How do you think this internship will aid you with your professional goals?
Zicherman: During my internship, I had opportunities to conduct informational interviews and meet with different Venture For America team members to learn more about their career experiences and what they do on a daily basis. I was also able to attend many of the Training Camp and Redux sessions with presenters who spoke on a wide variety of topics. As a result, I learned about several additional potential career paths that align with my interests. These sessions also taught me skills that will help me reach my professional goals. In addition, I was able to expand my professional network by making connections with guest speakers, fellows and my team members.
Lerner: What are your plans or next steps in your career once your internship is over?
Zicherman: I plan to continue conducting informational interviews to learn more about different career opportunities and I will continue to expand my professional network.