(3) A Lesson in Collaboration at NNABI

I had an incredible time at my summer internship with NNABl, a women’s health startup that is creating a natural supplement for women experiencing perimenopause, the lesser-known stage prior to menopause. The experience has given me valuable insight into the world of work due to its focus on entrepreneurship. The brand has yet to launch, and plans to do so in March, meaning that my internship was crucial in laying the groundwork for their branding and consumer interaction.

Because the company is still in its infancy, I was given a unique perspective working directly with NNABI’s founders. I learned of the many factors someone needs to consider when starting a company, ranging from the look of the website to social media outreach to analyzing the results of a clinical trial. I can confidently say that if I had worked for a larger, already-established company, my work would not have been as varied nor as important to the company’s growth as it was with NNABI. An important lesson I learned was that working for a small company means you experience incredible highs, such as hearing good reviews from the trials, as well as incredible lows, such as seeing other, larger companies, making similar product claims as you are.

In terms of social justice, I have learned a valuable lesson about empowerment. While knowledge and research on perimenopause is growing among experts, there is still much work to be done to educate the general public about the symptoms that women go through and how they can impact a woman’s life. It was uplifting to see my bosses recognize a growing field and ask themselves how they could contribute to solving a problem that they themselves were experiencing. There is a lot of social injustice aligned with women’s health, particularly in issues like the gender data gap, the lack of comprehensive sexual education, and the misdiagnoses of women experiencing perimenopause. However, NNABI has made it clear that they do not plan to shy away from any of these, and their efforts have been reflected in my work for this summer, like the conversational “cheat sheet” between patients and doctors and a survey asking younger women about their views on menopause.

There are many things that I wish I knew before I started my internship. The first is that time management is a crucial part of any job, but especially in a virtual internship. The fact that there was no office for me to commute to meant I was the one holding myself accountable for getting the work done. It is important to know yourself and how you work, so planning my work time has been crucial for my success. Another important lesson is to adapt to your supervisor’s leadership style. I had gone into the internship assuming I would be given orders and tasks only, but due to the small nature of the company, my relationship with my bosses was much more collaborative. It meant I had to be much more creative with my work and come up with ideas outside of my tasks.

Finally, I would say a good piece of advice for anyone wanting to pursue an internship in women’s health is that you must learn how to collaborate with everyone.  My internship in women’s health was marked by the constant collaboration that my bosses and I had with other women, some of whom weren’t even involved with NNABI. One of my supervisors is involved with a company called Chief, a networking community for women, and through that service, we were able to meet with lifestyle influencers, naturopaths, doctors, and graphic designers, each with unique advice to give. The lesson is that nothing can be gained from not reaching out to others, and it is always beneficial to ask for advice if you need it—a message that will continue to be helpful for me during my time as Brandeis.