How to work a crowd of the biggest VC investors in Boston?

My internship at The Capital Network didn’t go without a few challenges. 

First was combining classes with full time work. By taking a part time course load I managed to make myself a pretty hectic schedule. Some days I would have to run between downtown office and classrooms in Back Bay. In addition sitting in a classroom after an office was quite the cultural shock. I was surprised to find my classmates and lectures both soporific. Coming from the fast pace of the office to the classroom was like hitting a wall. I had to fire an espresso and keep my laptop in my bag in order to stay focus during (almost) the entire class.

Another challenge was dealing with criticism. It took me a while getting used to constant iteration requests on a project that lasted sometimes over a week. These requests were diverse. Eg if a marketing message sounded right in my head people who worked here for a while had a different idea of the right tone to address customers. I sometimes would have to change up to a word in a tweet. (DJ Khaled would say – Major Key Alert: Pay attention to details.) Additionally as I designed marketing materials and digital content it was often hard to agree on a visual or branding aspect before many iterations and figuring out every option. One thing I learned when doing creative work for someone else is to let any personal taste aside and make multiple suggestions until it aligns with the company’s vision. It’s harder than it sounds.

Challenge #3: explaining who you are and why you are here. At TCN we had regular affiliate meetings with big lawyers, bankers, accountants etc who sponsor the organization. My first affiliate meeting was rather interesting. In a big corporate conference room everyone was wearing a suite except me (We don’t wear suits at the office and my coworkers are all females so it was ok for them). Then I had to introduce myself to the table. I had to introduce myself countless times in work settings of this internship and I got to learn how important it is. In fact, it usually is that first impression people get out of you and you don’t get another shot if you introduce yourself in front of multiple people. They rarely change their mind after that first impression but the worst thing that can happen is not making an impression at all. I found that this happens you become invisible: people ignore you, forget about you or just don’t care at all. Reasons for that to happen are shaky introductions, lack of self confidence, inadequate body language or irrelevant introduction (when what you say about yourself doesn’t interest them at all). Obviously I got to make them up a few times. Therefore I simply made sure I always knew who I was meeting (by name), how to make myself interesting and show I wanted to be there with them.

Thomas Chardin
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