Harvard students, accustomed to pouring their sweat and tears into papers and problem throughout the school year, tend to get
Harvard students, accustomed to pouring their sweat and tears into papers and problem throughout the school year, tend to get a little stir-crazy working as summer interns. But after hours of photocopying and coffee runs, in-the-know interns turn to Intern Memo— an e-mail newsletter that offers everthing from career advice to after-work outing suggestions.
Internmemo.com, the saving grace of many New York undergraduate interns, was launched by William I. Bressman ’04 and Theodore B. Bressman ’06, with help from their sister, Ethel D. Bressman ’10, on Memorial Day weekend 2007 as means of providing opportunities for future interns and tips for current ones. The Web site and daily e-newsletters contain advice on topics ranging from office behavior to creating good working relationships to listings of social events that could double as networking opportunities.
Intern Memo’s newsletters are filled with real-life experiences from former and current interns, as well as job listings from employers and fun facts to get interns through the day—not to mention the entire summer. Currently boasting a subscriber list of over 4,000, the Bressman brothers hope to reach over 10,000 in the near future, and branch out to other major cities including Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.
Theodore describes Intern Memo as the “perfect little surge into your inbox”. But by crafting a solid system and keeping an eye trained on the future, this “little” leg-up won’t be small for long.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
With two siblings out in the real world and one still living the college life, the Bressmans are well-situated to corner the as of yet untapped intern-assistance market. William serves as the business development manager of the newsletter, while Theodore takes the role of editor and primary writer. Ethel, the marketing director for Intern Memo, is primarily in charge of managing the site’s Facebook group and contacting the offices for career services at various institutions across the country to raise awareness of the Web site. Even though she doesn’t play as large a role as her brothers do, Ethel’s insider insight is invaluable for keeping the newsletters on track.
“It seemed like something really pertinent to kids that were my age,” Ethel says. “It seemed like a good idea for me to get involved and to tell [Theodore and Will] what is interesting to actual college kids and what’s helpful.”
The idea for Intern Memo originated when Theodore and William were still undergraduates, toiling away as summer interns themselves. While working at Bear Stearns and a small Manhattan money management firm during his college summers, Theodore recorded all his memorable experiences in the office. Seeing potential in both Theodore’s observations and William’s own experiences, the two brothers arrived at the idea of creating a newsletter—and thus Intern Memo was born.
THE ASSISTANT’S ASSISTANT
Useful though it undoubtedly is, Intern Memo isn’t just about the serious side of interning. According to William M. Ruben ’10, a loyal Intern Memo subscriber, the service is more engaging than its competitors. “They speak to me on a level I want to be spoken to. They’re much more improvised about [giving advice] so it’s not just job listings,” Ruben says. “The tone of the e-mails is very easy, accessible, and fun.”
Theodore’s fellow classmate and Intern Memo fan Chris Schonberger ’06 agrees: “They understand the fact that it’s not a life-and-death situation,” Schonberger says. “The humor definitely helps because it makes people feel more comfortable, and I think that’s one of the most important things you can have in an internship—just that perspective that you’re there to learn, and whatever you do it’s not going to ruin your career.” Schoenberger, who is a former Crimson Magazine writer, works as editor-in-chief of www.gradspot.com, a Web site for students transitioning out of college.
Schonberger is certainly not alone in his enthusiasm. One of the standard obstacles any start-up Web site faces is establishing a steady readership, and Intern Memo seems to have its fair share of fans. In addition to its broad subscriber base, the Web site is forging partnerships with related sites as a means of expansion. Intern Memo recently joined forces with MonsterTRAK.com, a division of Monster.com geared toward college students and recent graduates seeking a career path. According to the Bressmans, this partnership has opened up new opportunities for their site.
“They give us specified listings for our subscribers,” Theodore says, “so that they have access to really cool internship opportunities.”
And Intern Memo doesn’t plan on stemming its development. A recent addition to the Web site’s marketing strategy has been the use of campus reps—students at other schools hired by Intern Memo to spread the word and increase subscriptions. Maureen D. Barradas, a junior at Carleton College in Minnesota and a campus rep for Intern Memo, has been a fan of the site since she joined last June. “I believe in it so much that I decided to be a campus representative,” Barradas says. “It’s definitely something that’s helped me, and I would definitely recommend it to my friends.”
In addition to the original summer version, Intern Memo provides a school-year edition of their newsletters to cater to students more concerned by landing summer internships than surviving them. But the original focus on summer internships is still the main priority of Intern Memo, and as the summer approaches the Web site is entering peak season. Already on the verge of making it big, Intern Memo is entering a crucial phase in development.
“This summer’s going to be really big in terms of whether we’re going to be a truly successful company. I mean, hopefully we will be, but time will tell.”