Metcalf Memoirs: Jeffrey Nelson

Tech startup experience capitalizes on Computer Science foundation.
Metcalf Collage
Photo by: 
Gordon Lew, College Visual Media Editor, Class of 2015
As I am working at a small startup with only a few employees, I am constantly forced to take on challenges that an intern at a larger company would not have the opportunity to face. From the first day at work, I was teaching myself to build complex tools

As the summer internship season kicks off, the College media team has gathered reflections from a few students in each UChicago Careers In... (UCI) program who held Jeff Metcalf internships this past summer. Here is what they had to say about their experiences.


Jeffrey Nelson, Class of 2015
Major: Computer Science
Primary UCI program: Entrepreneurship
Name of internship: HireBrite Web Developer
Internship location: Chicago, IL

Q: What attracted you to the Metcalf internship that you have been doing this summer?

A: When I started taking Computer Science classes last fall, I began to realize the huge potential for computer-based technology and potentially a career in such fields. I searched throughout the year for different types of technology internships and decided I wanted to try working at a Web-based startup, as it seems to be a very relevant and exciting place to be. HireBrite seemed perfect for this, as it exemplifies the startup mentality of hard work, ambition, and high technology.

Q: How does your major or other coursework at UChicago relate to the kind of work that you are doing for your Metcalf?

A: As a Computer Science major, I have certainly taken programming courses that have helped with the development work I am doing now. On the other hand, the work I am doing with HireBrite is much more modern and thus uses technology that is a bit more developed than that which we often use in school. It seems as if the point of a Computer Science degree is to develop a strong understanding of lower-level tools, providing the ability to go to an internship or job and build on top of the solid foundation that has been built in school.

Q: What was going through your mind as you prepared and showed up for your first day on the job?

A: I was not really sure what to expect as I walked to the Merchandise Mart to go to 1871. I had heard so much about this big tech incubator in Chicago, but had never had the chance to see it, let alone work there. I knew the people I was working with so I was not too worried, but I was anxious to get started working and learning new things.

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Nelson, Class of 2015

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your Metcalf, and how have you dealt with or overcome that challenge?

A: As I am working at a small startup with only a few employees, I am constantly forced to take on challenges that an intern at a larger company would not have the opportunity to face. From the first day at work, I was teaching myself to build complex tools that would be used for the website, many of which I had not any prior exposure to. This is very rewarding, in that teaching myself and struggling with the material enables me to really understand the work. Furthermore, I am able to gain exposure to a much greater repertoire of fields within the work I am doing.

Q: What is the most interesting, memorable, or unique experience/assignment you have had while working in the capacity of your Metcalf?

A: The most interesting experience was likely seeing my first application on the Internet. After working for many days on a project (particularly when doing so alone), it is very rewarding to see the final product published online for all to see and use.

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned or the most rewarding experience you have had?

A: The most important skill I have gained while working is the ability to break down a complex project into smaller and more manageable tasks, such that the various smaller tasks can come together over time to gain emergent and more complex properties. A website, for instance, is composed of many different types of tools and technologies that all come together to create a more complex application that can be used by the public.

Q: Is there anything else that you think would be particularly interesting or instructive to share?

A: Working at HireBrite, I was able to put up multiple projects on the Internet within my first two weeks on the job. I believe it is very important to have an experience like this at a small startup where responsibility is given from the first day on the job. I hope many others can have similar experiences to the one I had this summer.

For more Metcalf reflections, check out the overview articleTo read the profiles that Career Advancement collects, click here.

UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship (UCIE), a program of Career Advancement, offers programming and resources for "students interested in start-ups, venture capital, and other related careers." UCIE offers Jeff Metcalf internships, which are paid, substantive internships exclusively for UChicago undergraduates. For more information, visit the Metcalf Internship Program website.

Metcalf Internships are available to College students throughout the academic year, and especially during the summer internship season. To learn more about currently posted Metcalf Internships, log into your Chicago Career Connection account to search for opportunities, and to make an appointment with a Career Advancement adviser.

Tagged: startups, technology, Metcalf Internship, Metcalf Memoirs