University ends, but learning never stops.

My Summer Experience in the 18th Dimension

Parallel18 is surrounded by lovely murals inside and outside the office.

Are entrepreneurs born or made? Gary Vaynerchuk says in one of his videos that he ‘100,000% thinks entrepreneurship cannot be taught’. Well I beg to disagree. First, I’ve learned a lot of lessons by consuming his engaging content. Second and most importantly, I’m a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Here I was able to acquire the educational base of all I know today by participating in our University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, better known as the E-Ship Network. This allowed me to complete another step in my journey of becoming an entrepreneur by doing a summer internship at a Parallel18 startup.

I will now share with you some of the key insights learned with the hope of inspiring more students to step up to the challenge of working at a global tech startup:

Parallel18 is located in the heart of one of Puerto Rico’s hippest neighborhoods, Santurce.

#1 Connecting to the SJ Tech Ecosystem

Sometimes its hard to fathom the number of great opportunities that exist inside the SJ Tech Ecosystem. This is specially hard when you’re from Mayagüez and only attend events like the H3 Conference and SJ Tech Meetups in select ocassions.

Living in SJ allows you to rock a pitch while wearing a Star Wars t-shirt at cool events like Fullstack Nights v5.

My summer internship in Parallel18 allowed me to meet many of the key players in the ecosystem through my work at Locurity — a very early stage startup that provides crazy good cybersecurity for enterprises. I also had the opportunity to attend events like Hack Nights at Piloto 151, Startups After Hours and FullStack Nights. It’s amazing how the network you foster will eventually guide you towards your passion. A clue on this later.

#2 Mentor Talks every week!

This is the part when I discovered that while University ends, learning never stops. Thanks to P18, me and many interns had access to mentors every week. These mentors would give presentations sharing their expertise in many topics to accelerate the learning curve of the 36 startups participating in the program. They also would have 1–1 meeting with the startups in order to give their direct feedback on anything we needed.

Here’s mentor in residence Alex Borschow sharing some tips on how to craft our Demo Day pitches.

#3 Independence and Learning by Exploration

I can describe my summer experience in these two crucial skills learned:

  • Solving problems you can’t answer searching in Google

This summer I’ve had to figure out what works by doing what doesn’t. For example all that I learned in Sales, I learned through experimentation. I failed a lot of times, but I failed quickly and learned quickly.

  • Just lead

Following the same line of thought, sometimes you just have to learn to lead and have the guts of saying ‘my intuition says this is the way forward’. At times the most important indicator for success in a startup is SPEED.

Amazing message in graffiti a few blocks away from P18’s office.

Conclusion

I think many students think working at a startup is a step into the abyss. It kinda is, but don’t believe the hype — it’s just organized chaos. In my case, I’m forever thankful and have to give props to the UPRM E-Ship Network for teaching me the base that allowed me to thrive in this type of environment. Lastly, I’m thankful for the P18 Staff who made this great adventure possible. These guys are hitting it out of the park!

These past months I was able to explore things I’m not good at, bet on my strengths, discover new disciplines and find my passion. Now that’s what I call a productive summer.

#WorkHardWorkHardPlayTropical

Hope you enjoyed this piece of content. If you want to connect and ask any questions about my experience, I’m pretty much everywhere under the username — cristobalismo. I’ll be glad to help!