Article appears in SAP Startup Focus Newsletter – Issue 6
Interning at SAP Startup Focus: More than ‘Just’ and Internship
The brilliant interns of the Startup Focus team speak about their experience with the team, their love of startups, and their future.
Ranjani Ramakrishnan, Data Scientist
Rebecca Schupp, Social Media
Barbora Calaba, Special Events
Andy Yen, Market Enablement
How did you join the SAP Startup Focus team?
I applied through my university’s career center (Berkeley-Haas) and interviewed with an SAP recruiter to talk about my background and potential fits within SAP. A few days later, I was contacted by the recruiter to interview with Robert Kapanen – in-person at LaunchSF. Robert and I had a really good conversation about my background in business development, my personal experience working in a startup, and what the SAP Startup Focus team was about. A couple of weeks later, I was contacted with an offer to join the team and I have not looked back since.
I had heard about SAP’s HANA, the in-memory database, and how the Startup Focus program (SFP) team was helping startups get started with this, relatively, new technology. The exposure to all these new solutions being developed on the HANA platform was really exciting. When I learned about the possibility of internships being available from a colleague in the SFP, I sent in my resume to be considered. And so far, it has been a great learning process.
I have a startup background. Previously, I was working in a global startup and at an accelerator run by the Czech government. When I learned about the Startup Focus Program’s Startup Recruitment intern position I insisted to have a personal meeting with my future manager, Sophie Chou, ASAP. Instead of impersonal telephone conversation, we met up face-to-face and after only a couple of minutes realized that I wanted to work with Sophie and that something revolutionary is being cooked up at SAP.
A friend of mine told me that the Startup Focus Team was looking for new interns to support their efforts. She introduced me to and we arranged an interview with Ron Wessels and Sophie Chou. Right after the conversation, it was clear to me that this would be a great chance to do the things I love: going to events, talking to people, learning new things about startups, and new technology (SAP HANA).
Describe a typical day at SAP Startup Focus:
It depends on the team that I’m working with, each day is just a bit different from the last. A good portion of a typical day involves working with different data sets and trying to answer questions. During the course of the day I may get pulled into calls with start-ups to either answer questions that they may have regarding a particular technology or just to gain exposure to the solution that they are developing. I think one way sum it up is that the group itself functions as a start-up — you always find yourself playing multiple roles and lending a hand wherever the need arises.
Is there any such thing as “a typical day” in a Startup Focus team? Every day is different and diverse. My manager says: “We build a plane while we are flying it”. My main duty is to support the Recruitment team as well as regional teams around the globe in various ways. I also championed a Startup Forum in my motherland, the Czech Republic. I am a very proud Czech citizen and I am also very proud of the Czech startup ecosystem which is tremendous for such a tiny little country in the Central Europe. The only thing typical for the SAP Startup Focus team is the amount of fun and laughs we produce on daily basis. I hope we don’t make another teams too jealous!
The truth is there is no such thing like a typical day with SAP Startup Focus. Each day is full of new tasks and opportunities, one moment you’re organizing a virtual forum and then suddenly you find yourself at a startup event to recruit potential candidates for the program. In this team, interns don’t feel “just like interns”, we must be responsible for assignments right from the start. We learn more things in one hour than other interns might learn during their whole internship. It feels great to be part of this – I’m a proud member of the SAP Startup Focus team.
You never know what is going to happen on a given day with the SAP Startup Focus team and that’s what makes work exciting. We work with startups from around the world; meaning that on the second day of my internship I was talking to startups in China to better understand the different industry opportunities for big-data in China compared to the US. I have only been with the Startup Focus team for a month and my responsibilities have included anything from setting up client-startup meetings at Sapphire (SAP’s largest event every year in the US) to helping with startup demo transcriptions.
What has been the most memorable moment of your internship?
The memorable moments comes every time I am encouraged by my manager to do something risky or encourage me to try new skills I may not be comfortable with yet. I am very lucky in a sense that I am reporting to mangers that trust in their team. I have never been micromanaged or prevented from proactivity.
I was given the opportunity to organize the virtual forums for startups. The virtual forums are weekly sessions for young entrepreneurs, which give them the chance to learn more about our program and showcase their solutions to our team. When I started, we only had one or two participants per session, but now, after we modified the process, we have up to 30 startups each session. This is proof that our effort was worth it and it’s a great feeling.
The most memorable moment of my internship has been the opportunity to work collaboratively with our VP, Kaustav Mitra, and other SAP teams to write and submit an article about the SAP Startup Focus Program for Startup America/Startup Weekend.
I think that there were quite a few personally but the one thing that I feel most strongly about is working with high school students and helping them understand the power of big data. How it is everywhere, how it influences decisions, and most importantly getting them thinking (hopefully) about a career in the technology domain.
Describe your ideal (big data) startup:
If I was an entrepreneur, I would invent an application that is able to scan my room when it’s totally untidy and then create a to-do list that tells me the best and fastest way to clean up. And yes, this would be a big data solution, because I have a lot of stuff lying around.
We have some amazing startups in the program – Weissbeerger allows bar owners and other beverage manufacturers to monitor every drop of beverage poured, reduce waste, and provide location-based consumer behavior. FanAppz is a social media analytics startup that converts fans into customers by allowing brands to better engage with customers and use the resulting insights to improve the performance of their marketing efforts. However, my ideal big-data startup (from a consumer perspective) would combine features from both of these startups to help me measure my consumption of beverages at different times during a live sporting event.
My ideal start-up would combine health care and big data, helping improve the quality of care and outcomes for patients.
A cutting edge machine learning startup monster. Something surreal and crazy such as an android hubby cavalier who would predict, analyze and process terabytes of my wishes, needs or pains…. and resolve them instantly. His name would be Dodo, he would do my laundry, bills and grocery shopping automatically by predicting my needs. An information flow between me and him would be stored in-memory, in the columns.
Why and how is this internship important for your future career?
This internship has already helped my career in three ways: 1.) This internship has introduced me to the importance of big-data as an emerging industry and how big-data can help companies and individuals make better decisions to save on cost and time. 2.) I am learning the dynamics of how to work with a global team and gaining a new perspective of how I can best contribute.
This internship has been important for a number of reasons. The contacts that I have made, the projects that I have been working on, and the exposure to the world of start-ups have been invaluable. As important to me are the technical skills that I take away and the fresh perspective that I have gained in looking at problems that I have been working on.
On a daily basis I am learning how to function in a corporate, multi-cultural, environment where different people have different views, goals, attitude, way of communication and so forth. This skill which I believe can be learnt to a certain extent is linked to an empathy and elementary ability to predict people’s reactions. I observe colleagues who are really good at that and learn from them. The bottom line is to stay kind but persistent when the goals need to be achieved. It’ s sort of virtue that I would love to master and it will certainly help me in the future career big time.
Being part of this special team has helped me grow in many ways. I was able to practice my communication skills towards customers right from the start. I also have became more confident regarding being spontaneous and reacting impromptu, trusting my intuition. To sum it up, this internship helped me in developing my personal skills and picturing myself in a job like this, surrounded by great people in a collaborative team.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Meet the Startup Focus Team: Interns!,