A desire to do meaningful work. A summer-long goal to rapidly develop skills. A chance to get hands-on experience inside the culture of a startup business. The chance to gain valuable personal insights.
These are just a few of the reasons why a select group of MIT undergrads applied for the opportunity to be a Pozen Fellow and spend their summer working full-time as a core member an MIT-founded venture. It’s a prestigious and popular position; this spring the number of applicants – both for the student interns and the startup companies hosting them – broke all previous records.
What is the Pozen Fellowship? Started in 2016 as a pilot program thanks to funding from MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bob Pozen, it provides MIT undergrads with the opportunity to experience the environment of an early-stage venture through a paid internship at an MIT-founded company. The Fellowship provides dual benefits: students receive training, mentorship, and experience at an early-stage startup, when most ventures don’t have the funding resources to allow for such opportunities, and the businesses get the knowledge and skills of talented MIT students at a time when they often have more work than staff. It’s a win for the students and for the companies.osh
“There is no substitute for going out in the real world and seeing startup companies first-hand,” Pozen says. “This fellowship provides students with a better idea of the critical factors in operating successful startups before they attempt that experience themselves.”
After two years of the pilot, Pozen endowed the program with a generous donation and more than 50 undergrads have had the opportunity to spend 10 weeks fully immersed on projects that, as 2022 Fellow Reece Yang experienced, made a real and immediate impact. “Code I wrote at the start of the week made it into production by the end of the week,” Yang said. “I’m hoping to work in a startup or found my own company in the future.”
Funding allowed the program to expand to a record 10 Fellows for the summer of 2023 and interest saw record levels as well. More than 30 MIT-founded startups, all of them recent participants in the Trust Center’s MIT delta v accelerator program before launching their businesses, applied to host and mentor a student for the summer. Meanwhile, 139 undergrads applied for the Fellowship, 35% greater than the prior high for applicants.
The Trust Center team, led by Entrepreneur in Residence Macauley Kenney, selected the host companies who would be taking part this summer. Once these were finalized, students applied online, sharing their background and interests in working in a startup environment, as well as which internships they wanted to be considered for. The startups reviewed all the candidates and conducted interviews with a number of students before submitting a short list of finalists to the Trust Center who selected the students who would be our summer cohort.
Our 10 Pozen Fellows for 2023 are:
- Sydney Chun ’24, Brain and Cognitive Sciences
- Jacob David ’26, Mathematics with Computer Science
- Rithvik Ganesh ’26, Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making
- Mohammadou Gningue ’24, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
- Daniel Guan ’26, Computer Science and Engineering
- Tamar Korkotashvili ’25, Computer Science and Engineering
- Eli Scharf ’25, Computation and Cognition
- Lucy Ward ’24, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
- Pris Wasuwanich ’24, Chemical Engineering
- Kidus Yohannes ’25, Computer Science and Engineering
The 2023 host companies where the students will be spending their summers are Adaviv, Almond, Amira Health, Catalan AI, Empallo, Kino AI, Multitude Insights, Pelicargo, Rivet, and Seia Bio.
Each student receives $800/week over the course of the summer, but the job experience and personal growth far exceeds in value the paycheck. Pozen Fellows conduct monthly check-ins with EIR Kenney to provide feedback and shared experiences among the cohort, wrapping up in August with a reflection paper and a true sense of fulfillment of having made an impact with the work they’ve done.