From Bank to Startup
I am really excited this break to be working as a Summer Startup Intern. It is at a business called Forager, based in my hometown of Portland, Maine. Forager is a mission-based tech company making local food more accessible by streamlining the procurement process from farms to grocers. Not only is Forager a business holding true to Babson’s emphasis of a triple bottom line, but its mission harmonizes with Portland’s values of buying local and keeping independent. The more I learned about Forager, I got excited about the business model, potential, and even the food industry itself. However, working at a startup isn’t something to be taken lightly and I’d even go as far to say it’s a culture shock when having just worked at a bank.
Last summer, I worked at my community bank, Bangor Savings, as a Summer Float Teller. Let’s break that title down a second:
Summer –> temporary employee
Float –> jumps around from branch to branch
Teller –> completes manual transactions for customers; glorified ATM
I’m going to take that last part back because I know some wonderful tellers and they are much more than a glorified ATM, but the picture I’m trying to paint is that I was the lowest of the low at this community bank—literally there so employees could take vacation days during the summer. And yet, I had a week long training where I was paid driving time and mileage as well as had expenses-paid hotels and meals. For the rest of the season, I received mileage for branches other than my main-branch and was paid under a generous living wage initiative.
On the other hand, new startups are always in perpetual-funding mode to have security until it has reached stable profitability. And unfortunately, perpetual-funding mode results in unpaid interns and parking 10 minutes away. Now, I’d like to emphasize that I’m very happy to be working at a startup this summer. But a heads up if you’re looking to dip your toes in these waters, either as an intern or a founder, crack your piggy bank and sell them Bitcoins.