Fostering a Future Innovator: How BIP Ventures Embraced the Year of the Youth Internship

Explainer

When Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced that 2023 would be Year of the Youth, he issued a call to the community to get involved. One of the groups he approached was the Buckhead Coalition. Specifically, he asked the members to open summer internship opportunities to Atlanta Public School (APS) students.

I've been a member of the Coalition for four years. It meant a lot to us that the mayor was asking for our direct support in providing these learning opportunities. Along with my Buckhead Coalition colleagues, I saw the Year of the Youth Program as a way to open a door for an aspiring APS student.

I immediately jumped at the opportunity because of my own experiences.  As a high school student, I had strong skills in the fundamental educational building blocks (English, math, and science), but I had no idea how I would apply those skills. I had no idea what was possible in life. I have always wished that I had had a better sense of career potential when I was younger.  

What's more, it was clear that the program aligns with many of our core values as a firm. I saw it as a chance to educate a young person on the value of innovation and collaboration. And I knew it would be powerful for the student to see what it looked like to help people build better financial futures and to be a steward of founders dreams.  

How the Year of the Youth Internship Worked at BIP Ventures

Year of the Youth worked with APS to identify students who were interested, enthusiastic, and well-suited for the internships. I can confirm that our intern, Marcus, fit all those characteristics.

Marcus is a rising senior at North Atlanta High School. He is interested in 3d design, robotics, and gaming. As soon as I met him, I was surprised at how worldly he was. He has good, strong basic skills, and familiarity with software programs. He asked good questions about how to lead an organization. And impressively, Marcus immediately connected the dots about how to coordinate different functional areas of an organization to drive a larger strategy or mission.  

He also brought a wonderful, curious demeanor to the opportunity. It served him well here, and it will serve him well in life. Right away, it was obvious that Marcus will be successful at whatever he put his mind to.  

While he was with us at BIP Capital, Marcus had a chance to get a taste of everything that we do here. He spent a lot of time shadowing me and seeing what it's like to be a CEO and to work with other CEOs. Marcus also attended strategy meetings, functional team meetings, and all-hands meetings. And he spent a day with each functional team leader in Marketing, Performance, Technology, and Investments. What he saw through all these experiences was how our team drives results, collaborates and solves problems together.  

BIP Ventures Intern Reflections

Marcus got to see what it was like to work with a company so it can stand on its own two feet. He reflected that getting to understand the phases of funding to help a company grow into business will help him if he decides he wants to start his own company someday.  

When we asked him what surprised him about spending time with us, his answers reflected his attentiveness to detail:  

  • I don’t have to wear a blazer – it's more casual than I expected and there are fewer suits and ties.
  • There are more meetings and it's busier than I expected.
  • I like to see how people’s strategies come into play and come together.  
  • BIP Ventures is doing things I didn’t expect from a VC firm, like creating AI tools.  

Those observations say a lot about how curious Marcus is - and what impresses us most is how he plans to apply what he learned. He shared that he is working to be a better leader and to act more like a CEO in his own involvements. Marcus is the president of his Robotics Club. He commented that he is trying to figure out how to make people aware of it and make it cool again because it had lost some momentum after COVID.  

After seeing how collaboration and networks can create progress, Marcus decided to partner with two friends to amp up the marketing for the Robotics Club. One talented graphic designer friend is doing posters and the other is building a website for the club. What's more, Marcus has begun to put the details in place to ensure the Robotics Club captains earn scholarships for their efforts. And to make sure that the club offers long-term benefits for the students and school, he has created a way for club members to train rising freshmen in the middle school on the basics of Robotics. Doing so helps club members satisfy their required service hours. It also fills the pipeline with well-trained, ready Robotics competitors.  

I wasn't surprised when Marcus said that the time he had with us at BIP Ventures has encouraged him to be the CEO of his own startup someday. And I was proud to hear that it makes him want to give back to his community using what he knows the people in it need most.

"I want to tell any of my friends who are interested in a career in investment and venture capital to do an internship. Be passionate about it. Investors and VCs need to share the values of the entrepreneurs – don't chase this career for the money." (Marcus, Senior at North Atlanta High School and Atlanta Year of the Youth Intern)

For BIP Ventures and for me personally, the Year of the Youth internship program was a success. As we look forward to future years supporting the program, I'd like to ensure that it achieves four key objectives:

  • Give young people a better understanding of career possibilities  
  • Prepare young people for a career that sparks their interest
  • Help students to build valuable networks at a young age  
  • Develop future leaders from diverse talent pools  

After working with Marcus for a few weeks, I will be surprised if he doesn’t start his own company someday.  I hope we helped him gain some perspective – and courage – to follow that path.    

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