End of internship at VocaliD

Interning at VocaliD was definitely more than I expected it to be, and I was able to achieve my learning goals. The summer between my penultimate and final year was the perfect time for this opportunity, and I’ve come out of it with a greater sense of clarity when it comes to career paths I can pursue after graduation. A huge part of this was my career-specific goal of exposing myself to programming and its role in linguistics and speech science. For the past couple years at Brandeis I’ve considered more and more the option of pursuing further education in computational linguistics, and have become more interested in topics related to the field. The central role of speech science and text-to-speech technology in VocaliD’s work resonated with this interest, and has been all the convincing I need that this is a viable industry to attempt to enter in the coming years.

To another student looking for an internship at VocaliD, I would say this: be prepared for a fast-paced, interdisciplinary environment, and get ready to work with people of all calibers from all sorts of backgrounds. On more than one occasion there were company advisors in the office – often for advertising – and every one of them wanted to hear the opinion of the interns. Rather than sit back and simply absorb knowledge from experienced professionals, we were allowed to engage with them and be taken just as seriously.

This sort of open-mindedness could be an industry thing, or, more probably, due to the nature of small start-ups. There is a sense of urgency to everything that reinforces the “team” environment, requiring different, multi-faceted tasks from us on a daily basis. For this reason it felt very demanding, in a good way. The advice for somebody doing work for a tech start-up like this would be essentially the same, but phrased differently: the work you do is important, just as important as everyone else’s. This was by no means a “fetch coffee for the office” internship.

Emma, a fellow intern, and Sam, a previous recipient of a VocaliD voice, out for pizza in downtown Belmont.

Working for a company with a social mission was generally very rewarding. The effect we were having on people’s lives was so tangible, especially so when Samantha, a previous recipient of a VocaliD voice, came in to visit us at the office. Being able to see the difference in her regard for her old, generic voice and her new VocaliD voice put it in perspective how necessary the product is.

Maeve, a young girl with cerebral palsy, is receiving one of the voices we worked on this summer. Her story was featured heavily on our Indiegogo campaign.

And while my work this summer will go into voices that will be finished months from now, I am still proud to have participated in their creation. There are also customers awaiting their VocaliD voice currently (like Maeve, pictured above), and getting to see them receive it in the future is something I’m very excited for.

-David Stiefel ’16

ISlide: The Midpoint

I’m halfway through my time as a summer intern for ISlide and I can’t believe it. It has been over a month and a half and it feels like just yesterday that I was heading back to Waltham on Friday afternoon after completing my first week. I have truly fallen in love with the company and the product and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here thus far. Working for ISlide has been everything I wanted it to be and more. I have learned skills in multiple different facets of the business world and have started to grasp what it takes to own and run a start-up company. I have been moving towards my learning goals and it’s exciting.

When I first stated my learning goals, I knew I wanted to gain knowledge of the business world and apply skills I had acquired in the classroom. I also wanted to learn more about the world of start-ups. So far I have been working mainly in sales and marketing, but I have had the opportunity to work with operations as well. As a small company, everyone needs to be able to step in and perform if one of the workers is out and I think that I have been able to do that well so far. The broadness of tasks that I have been trusted with has been amazing for getting closer to my learning goals. It has opened doors to how a real world company runs and works and how it does so smoothly. This is something that I never could have learned in a classroom. Our CEO, Justin Kittredge, has been awesome as well. He includes the interns in meetings and values their opinions which is something that you definitely won’t find in many other places. His motivation tactics, work ethic, and dedication to the grind and the company have rubbed off on me and have shown me what it really takes to be successful in an entrepreneurial venture. This is a picture that includes more information on the actual product that we are selling:

ISlide_Mantra_Shoe_Model-Flyer (1)

I have been moving towards my learning goals everyday, all while gaining valuable skills to go along with them.

I have learned a number of new skills while working with ISlide. I will start off in my position as a sales representative. I have learned new selling techniques that have made sealing the deal much easier. I have also learned how to identify more lucrative markets that would be interested in our product. This has done wonders for my ability to add accounts and to bring in customers. This is a link to one of our YouTube videos focusing on our customers and what they have done for ISlide so far. Lastly, I have gained numerous conversational and interpersonal skills. I am extremely comfortable on the phone and feel as though I do a great job in conversations with potential partners. This skill has also been built through working everyday with my co-workers. The interpersonal skills gained by conversing and collaborating with the sales force and other interns will serve me well in the classroom, in group projects, and in future careers. People skills are some of the most important talents to have while working in an office. I have realized what it takes to work as a team and I think that is vital to both the academic and the business world.

Everything that I have learned throughout the first half of the internship has allowed me to achieve a satisfying amount of success. I’m most proud of the fact that I sold more pairs than any one else did in the month of June. I was truly happy to be able to help the company and bring in revenue and I think that speaks to Justin’s motivation techniques. He is very positive and empowering and it felt great to be able to show him that what he was teaching us was working. This is a link to one of the biggest accounts that I have brought in.

The first half of this internship has been amazing. I have learned so much more than I thought I was going to and I have been given the opportunity to make my mark on the company which is all I could have asked for. I even got to meet Mickey Ward!

In a conversation with Justin earlier this week, he asked us what our biggest regret would be if we had to leave on that day. My response was that I would just regret not having more time – more time to learn from such a great mentor, more time to learn the ins and outs of a start-up, and more time to interact with the great people that work at this company. I will definitely be making the most of the rest of my time here at ISlide and I look forward to recapping all the knowledge I have gained!

ISlide USA: The Beginning of the Journey

This summer I will be working for a start-up, athletic footwear company called ISlide USA. Located in Norwood, MA, ISlide specializes in premium, highly customizable slides (athletic flip flops) that are allowing the business to grow every day. There is nothing like our product on the market today and consumers are starting to realize this.


I located this internship through our baseball team’s Facebook group. The company reached out to our athletic department and our captain put the information in our group. I thought it sounded very interesting, so I went in for an interview and received the position. ISlide has created and sold slides to celebrities and athletes such as Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather, 2 Chainz, Riff Raff, and many others (view company website). We also have distributed them to the University of New Mexico, Northeastern University, and Southern New Hampshire University. During my internship I will be working mainly on sales, marketing, and generating interest for the company. However, I have been assured that if I find myself interested in any other aspect of the business I can be given the opportunity to learn it and work within it. With the unique corporate structure of ISlide, I will be working directly under CEO Justin Kittredge and the Sales Director which is an amazing opportunity. The company is still in the early stages so the interns here are given responsibilities and access to things that many college students are not. I loved my first week and I am excited to see the person I become by the end of the summer.

Waking up last Monday for my first day of work was nerve-racking. I arrived to the address with no issues, got out of my car, put my back pack on, and headed up the stairs. ISlide USA is located on the fourth floor of an old mill. What is inside is amazing. Worn wood floors and brick walls house the business. Boston sports heroes such as Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, Pedro Martinez, and Mickey Ward are painted on the white wood walls seen throughout the floor plan. There are boxes filled with slides stacked everywhere and a Pop-a-shot basketball game located in the corner. It is truly the most unique business office I have ever seen. While some may think that this space would distract the employees of the company, it actually does the opposite. When it comes right down to it, the mill has a way of bringing all of the members of ISlide closer as well as acting as a highly functional facility. We love this place and are proud to call it home.

After the whirlwind that occurs when meeting everyone and receiving your assignments, Justin told me that I needed to take a song and remix it to make the theme about slides. I was confused but the distraction made the transition much easier. I settled on remixing Sweet Caroline and had to sing my version of the song in front of everyone. It was embarrassing but I got it done; it felt like I had completed a right of passage. After that I got into my job, doing sales. I learned the ropes from my co-workers and began creating my database and contact list. Over the week my lists grew and my email’s sent folder swelled. Finally, towards the end of the week, I made my first sale. Everyone was excited for me and I was pumped. It felt great to do something that helped the company.

So far, I could not be happier with my decision to accept an internship with ISlide. I have only been here for a week and I already feel a true connection with the company, which is rare to find with an internship position. I come to work at 8:30 in the morning and don’t leave until 5:30 but the days don’t feel long, I am still having fun. Going forward my goal is to gain as much knowledge as I can. I want to use this experience to learn about two things I find very interesting, business and entrepreneurship.

Bootcamp in Digital Video Technology

Welcome, everyone! First week has been very busy, full of new information, and to be honest, excitement on my part. I learned so much about digital technology this past week that I can’t believe it’s only been 5 days. Did you know Google can predict with 94% accuracy how well the next movie will do at the box office, based on the data it gathers from people’s Google searches? As the CEO described this internship, it is the summer boot camp in digital video distribution and monetization.

IRIS.TV is a start up tech company in downtown Los Angeles that specializes in the digital management, targeting, analysis, distribution and monetization of video content for publishers, advertisers and content owners. Using the latest advances in data science and content mapping, IRIS.TV adds each viewer’s distinct taste to a video’s advertising value. IRIS.TV personalizes content flow, indexes metadata, activates user behavior and more.

In other words, we work with software programs that are able to analyze data from consumers and use it to personalize their viewing experience. When people are recommended videos based on their viewing experience, they are more likely to watch more videos, spend more time online, and interact more with media. This is extremely valuable for advertisers, who pay a huge amount of money to place their ads on videos that are watched by the right people.

I found this internship through Hiatt’s CIC (Career and Internship Connections). When I saw the ad it seemed to be an interesting opportunity, even though I didn’t exactly understand what IRIS.TV did. All I remember seeing were a myriad of technical terms, that they work in the online video industry, and somehow “monetize” video content. Being a film, economics, and business major, this captured my attention and decided to apply. I was invited to an interview on January 8th in LA. I live in San Diego, thus it was a fairly short trip. I had a great interview with my supervisor, Lindsay. She is also a media/communications major, so we connected well. A week later, she offered me an internship.

To stay true to the ubiquitous use of data at my internship, I recorded various activities I did this past week. For example, I wrote down all the times I arrived/left my internship, and discovered that my first week I averaged 9.5 hours of work per day. This is a startup company and fortunately there is no shortage of work. More excitingly, unlike some past internships where work was just that, work, most things I do here are opportunities for me to learn about things I’m extremely interested in. Mostly I research competitor companies and create reports on their technologies. Also, I do the daily note, a daily email with most relevant tech articles of the day, and manage the company’s twitter page. Finally, I search for potential clients, companies who are seeking to optimize and monetize their content inventory.

Though these look like boring routine work, through my constant research I am learning a ton of information that is helping me understand the patterns that will decide where the entertainment and media industry are going. Also, through my research I realize how important and in-demand the IRIS.TV technology will be in the very near future. A few times I read current articles in the media that explained that it is most important for entertainment and media companies to improve their digital distribution and enhance their viewers’ online experience, which is exactly what IRIS.TV specializes in. It’s very exciting to be part of this company! This internship will undoubtedly influence my post-Brandeis plans. Maybe I will even work for IRIS.TV.

Finally, this week has exceeded my learning expectations. I have no idea what to expect for the rest of the summer, other than to continue learning, which is so much easier when I’m curious and excited about the subject.

– Paul Vancea ’14


IRIS.TV specializes in the distribution and monetization of digital content across all platforms
IRIS.TV specializes in the distribution and monetization of digital content across all platforms