Internship Series: Wello, Joanna Lai

Shannon Beeman
December 3, 2013

This Monday in our Fall Internship Series we feature Joanna Lai who spent her summer interning at Wello. Learn more about her experience below.

1. What were your core responsibilities for the internship?

This summer I worked at Wello, a health tech startup that offers live personal fitness training over two way webcam. This company launched a year ago and raised one round of funding. With only five people on staff, I was able to make an impact. I was constantly pivoting and fulfilling many different roles. I was a business development intern that focused on marketing strategy. In particular, I was responsible of the company’s email campaign strategy, which included customer segmentation, design, execution, analyzing, and implementation.

2. Where there courses you took through the U-M or programs offered through Zell Lurie that helped you develop skills applied during your internship?

My core marketing class was extremely useful, and the basic STP (segment, target, position) framework helped me as I went about analyzing different customer groups. Since coming back to Ross, I’ve taken more Entrepreneurship classes, such as New Venture Creation. Inspired by my summer experience, I am excited by and love being a part of the startup community.

3. What were the biggest contributions you made to the company during your time there?

I developed an email marketing strategy that the company will use going forward. I segmented the different customer groups and developed targeted messaging that increased conversion rates. I streamlined their email marketing and provided recommendations to increase customer acquisition. Further, I had the opportunity to be a spokesperson for Wello at a TV news station in Utah!

4. What experiences/skills developed from your internship will you apply at school/in your career?

Before Wello, I worked as a program manager at Google. My goals this summer were to do something I was passionate about and to get experience in the health tech space. Deciding to merge my background in tech and passion for health, I delved into the newly emerged health tech area. The experiences I gained this summer were invaluable. I now know what it takes to truly run a startup business, and I felt the different challenges in fundraising and early stage startup life. I know the difficulties of two-sides market places, and I experienced the sheer determination and will needed to succeed.

5. Would you recommend these types of internships as a good avenue for students to pursue to augment their business education vs. those within a corporate or traditional banking firm?

Startup and corporate/traditional internships both serve their purpose. Each student should think about what the goal for the summer internship. Is it to get experience in the startup space? To have a job offer going into their final year of school? To experience a large corporate environment where management invests in employees? Depending on what ones background and goals are, that should help determine if a startup internship is right for you.

Personally, I already had the large corporate experience, so I wanted to try something new. At a startup, I was able to truly understand the business model, whereas at a bigger company, it’s easy to get lost. If you want to learn on the fly, wear many hats, and are okay with unpredictability, then yes, I recommend this type of internship!

6. What is your advice of how to get the most out of the internship?

Know what you want out of your summer internship. Don’t compare your experience to those of your peers. Learn from those around you, whether it’s the CEO, engineer, or undergraduate intern. You can learn something from everyone. Also, network and reach out to other people. As a student, people are willing to talk and help you, so take advantage of that. Make as many connections as possible!