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Bridging Gaps: UpperCampus & Summer Bridge

by Jenna Ranney, Content Manager

Helping students from all backgrounds prepare for their future by connecting them with career advice and workplace experience has been at the core of the UpperCampus mission since day one. Our management team saw a post by @fredwilson from Union Square Ventures, a New York City-based venture capital firm. Mr. Wilson’s post asked local NY companies to consider supporting 35,000 high school and college summer interns. We were in!

As part of the Summer Bridge Internship program, UpperCampus spent two weeks working closely with students of all ages and backgrounds from schools across New York City. Our main goal was to provide them with real-world workplace experience by giving them insight into our development and quality assurance processes. But since UpperCampus is already an app tailored for their demographic, our interns left the internship with some extra career-related expertise as well! Though the internship was full of surprises and its fair share of challenges - for both the students and the UpperCampus team - we all certainly came out of it with invaluable knowledge and some great new connections!

When the UpperCampus team first joined the NYC Summer Youth Employment Program as a company partner for the Summer Bridge Internship, we were supposed to be getting 20 interns to work with for two weeks. By the time the internship began, we ended up with almost 200 students! While we welcomed the opportunity for more feedback, our excitement about the growing team was matched by our apprehension on how to tackle this new challenge. To make sure that each intern got the attention and guidance that they’d need to be successful during the internship, we knew we’d have to rearrange some of our plans.

We ended up dividing the interns into three teams, matching each group with an UpperCampus Intern team leader. My fellow team leads, Emily and Aggie, and I spent the next two weeks guiding our interns through various activities, both within the UpperCampus App and using some supplemental materials. Through lots of emails, Google Meet calls, and texts back and forth, we were able to stay on top of questions and keep our interns connected and on-task. Helping our interns access the various tools and navigate through the app’s capabilities highlighted some of our favorite things we’ve been working on this past year, as well as a few bumps in the road we hadn’t noticed before!

Their challenges throughout the internship involved lots of testing in all areas of the application:

Throughout the Internship:

  • Give direct, tough feedback on the UpperCampus app and be an active participant in all activities and discussions

Week 1:

  • Attend launch meeting to better understand goals and objectives

  • Download app and use Google Docs to record all feedback

  • Provide product feedback, analysis of content, future feature ideas, etc.

  • Complete lessons from the UpperCampus Playbook, in conjunction with the app and record findings and results

Week 2:

  • Complete additional lessons from UpperCampus Playbook and provide findings

  • Review all social media profiles and discuss strategies for awareness and acquisition

  • Continued testing of new functionality released exclusively for Internship program

  • Provide overall internship experience and feedback

After putting so much of our own time and love into this app, it was incredible to have almost 200 new students using the platform and giving us constructive feedback daily. Everything we’d been working towards was finally being put to the test and while we knew there would surely be a few bugs, it was definitely rewarding to see our hard work in action with these students.

We got all kinds of feedback from our interns, hearing about everything from their previous career and college research, their feelings surrounding future planning, the content they liked in our app and on our social media platforms, the content they wished they saw more of, and even some suggestions about how to improve our operations. At the end of the internship, they also shared with us all that they had learned not only about app development and quality assurance testing, but about their favorite careers and companies as well. As tricky as it may have been to navigate the lines of communication on such a large scale, the knowledge gained on both sides was well worth it.

One thing that really stuck out for us here at UpperCampus is the number of students who mentioned to us that their school doesn’t have access to tools like UpperCampus. They commented that they typically went to U.S. government websites or used Google to search for specific colleges, companies and careers. They loved the fact that not only was our app free, but that it looked and felt like other mobile apps that they are used to using. As students ourselves, we don’t understand why every student in the country doesn’t have access to something like UpperCampus. I guess that is why we do what we do!

We appreciate all the incredible interns who worked with us this summer and made all of this possible!


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