Summer Student Work: Joaquin Espinosa ’16 helps startups help the world

Here’s what it is like to spend the summer as a funded Purposeful Work intern for 1776, a global incubator and seed fund founded in 2013 and based in Washington, D.C.

Purposeful Work intern Joaquin Espinosa ’16 of Quito, Ecuador, poses at 1776, a global incubator and seed fund. Based in Washington, D.C., the firm helps startups in education, energy/sustainability, health, and transportation and smart cities. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Purposeful Work intern Joaquin Espinosa ’16 of Quito, Ecuador, poses at 1776, a global incubator and seed fund. Based in Washington, D.C., the firm helps startups in education, energy/sustainability, health, and transportation and smart cities. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Name: Joaquin Espinosa ’16

Hometown: Quito, Ecuador

Major: Economics and Politics

Internship Sponsor: Purposeful Work Internship Program, newly created in 2015, that offers paid internships specifically designed to build students’ skills, develop their networks, and, afterward, help them reflect on what they’ve learned and how it relates to their future purposeful work.

1. What does 1776 do? 

It’s really tough to start a business. 1776 provides the mentoring and support that startups need to succeed. It supports startups in education, energy/sustainability, health, and transportation and smart cities.

2. What were you most nervous about as you prepared for your internship?

A common fear: not knowing exactly what to do, feeling unqualified, or being afraid to ask questions if I’m not exactly sure what to do. Normal stuff like that.

I knew that once I got to know the people it would be OK, and that was the case! Everyone here is willing to talk to me and help me.

3. What went through your mind on Day One?

First impressions are important. I knew that 1776 had a casual environment where the people are also very excited to work there. So I wanted to keep that balance, being professional and relaxed but also excited.

Workplace culture is so different than being in school, and it takes time to learn how to behave in an office environment.

4. What did you do at 1776?

I am working with Kate [Nolan ’06, his mentor as 1776] in startup growth. We help connect startups with mentors — influencers, advisers, industry partners, or investors — during one-on-one meetings we call “office hours.”

This is time-sensitive work that requires attention to detail. It’s different from Bates where you can stay all night and finish something if you have to!

If an expert in the health industry is going to be at 1776, I work with Kate to see which healthcare startups would be the best fit for that particular mentor.

Constantly talking to startups and mentors has improved my social skills, helped me make connections, and inspired me with all these crazy, awesome ideas that entrepreneurs all over the world have to make the world a little better.

5. From what you know about the college’s Purposeful Work initiative, how has this experience helped you identify what you want to do?

I was surrounded by really smart, accomplished, and approachable people. When I graduate, I want to work somewhere like 1776, where ideas are valued and you can be yourself.

I’ve also learned that you don’t have to know how to do everything right away. At Bates, I know what to do and I do it well.

Here, I had challenges I was not used to, and I made mistakes at the beginning. For me, making a mistake motivates me to do better.

6. What are you going to do after Bates?

Being a senior, I get asked that a lot.

I’ve met young people here who thought they knew what they were going to do after graduation but changed their minds once they started working.

Hearing that has helped me to have an open mind about what I want to do and not get anxious. I think it’s OK not to know. I’m going to be OK.

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