Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

End My Summer With An “Internship” I Created!

Apart from working for 2 startups this summer, I “created” my own internship (a Social Innovation Inventureship™) by working as a Director for SheCodes Hackathon,  which is a project from NGO SEEDS Vietnam that aims to inspire women to step up in the STEM game. Plus, you don’t need to know how to code in order to participate!! SheCodes Hackathon is the first women hackathon ever in Vietnam as well as in Asia. This year, we attracted over 100+ women attendees with many speakers to the event. I still remember 3 months before this event, everything was on scratch paper and there was always someone telling you that “it’s not going to happen”. At one point I reached “battle mode”, meaning keep fighting even with everyone saying “it’s not gonna happen”. Starting SheCodes, I faced many problems that are surprisingly like startups, and I would love to share with you some of the recap!

  1. Someone always says “There is no market for this”: the fact is that when I pitched this idea with guest speakers or sponsors, they commonly share an opinion that there was no market that’s big enough for this project. However, one surprising thing that I learned at the end is there are all kinds of niche markets that you can find, and those niche markets are undiscovered because people think they don’t exist. If you find the right way to capture this market, you will be a pioneer.
  2. You will get rewards for doing something nobody has done: Doing something that has never been done in your community is hard because people are suspicious by nature. However, once you get enough determination to do it successfully, you become the trend-setter. A favorite saying from my favorite business woman: “We do something difficult today so we can create an impact tomorrow”.
  3. What can we teach for women interested in STEM? : we shouldn’t teach them how to be perfect in coding, we should teach them how to be brave enough to learn coding!
  4. One of the happiest parts in this “internship”: seeing the guys mentoring girls on coding sessions!
  5. No venue, no money, what should we do?: instead of finding people, prepare a perfect pitch first so you can get more people on your team. One thing that took me awhile to realize is that sometimes I need to stop being workaholic because no one can do everything alone. If we want to go far, we have to go with others

If you want to learn more about Social Innovation Inventureships at Babson College, visit the Lewis Institute’s website.