The past few months have truly been a whirlwind of decisions for the upcoming year and beyond. Since starting the search for full-time opportunities last September, deciding instead to finish a master's degree, and restarting the search for internships, I've decided to join Mango Health as a KPCB fellow this coming summer!
As I've come to a decision, I've had some time to think about what I value in a career opportunity at this point in my life. I wanted to take this time to reflect and share what I've learned about myself and offer some reasons for choosing Mango that parallel a similar decision I came to last year.
1. Scaling Impact in Healthcare
This was a criteria that set the stage early for my search this summer. Before anything else, our quality of life depends on our well-being and I've always been interested in healthcare as a means to increase the bottom line for our collective well-being. Technology, to me, became a tool to scale this impact and I became uniquely drawn about the space of digital health over the past two years.
That being said, there are quite a few digital health companies out there - so why Mango Health specifically? I was compelled by their mission to leverage technology to ultimately encourage more healthy lifestyles. They had a unique approach leveraging gamification that appealed to my interests in mobile technologies. Also, the team itself was a reflection of the leverage that initially drew me to digital health - a small team (< 20) working on a meaningful problem that affects millions of people.
2. Product + Engineering
Working at Khan Academy inspired me to think critically about product strategy at technology-based companies.
Why do we build what we build? How do we settle on prioritizing and rolling out product features? How does our product ultimately impact the users that use it?
These questions ultimately inspired me to consider a degree in Management Science & Engineering (concentrating in Technology + Engineering Management), and I was looking for an opportunity to help me develop the intuition behind answer some of the above questions. As an engineer, I still wanted the opportunity to hone skills in building product, but I also wanted to explore this intersection of product + engineering - one that was more loosely defined and more open at the smaller companies that I was considering.
Mango was willing to take the risk of offering me an opportunity to dive deep into this intersection of product + engineering by investing in an intern that didn't necessarily know how to contribute in this particular way.
3. The non-negotiables
The most memorable interview experience that I had throughout this entire process was a question that Caitlin (Mango's VP of Ops) posed to me:
"What are your 5 non-negotiables?"
This struck for two reasons: 1) it sparked an honest and intentional conversation about whether Mango Health could deliver on those non-negotiables 2) it inspired me to think critically about what I was looking for this coming summer and realize that a lot of these things weren't necessarily going to be directly handed to me - I had to ask and look for it!
In retrospect, this was a question that I had thought about despite not clearly articulating my reasons. However, the fact that Mango put just as much thought into this decision - what they could and could not deliver - gave me a good indication of how intentional they were about making sure they could offer me what I'm looking for.
There's an exciting opportunity inherent in joining a small company backed by two venture capital firms I highly respect. In addition to having their vote of confidence in the team at Mango, they also provided unique opportunities to interns in their portfolio companies. The KPCB fellowship and RockHealth's digital health programming were both compelling invitations to join communities full of like-minded people who care about making an impact with technology.
These communities were a distinct alternative to the "intern classes" I was used to at previous companies, but also an invitation to be directly "mentored by executives" while exploring a field that I've grown to be so excited about. (Having a few friends that have vouched for the KPCB program didn't hurt either!)
All in all, I'm incredibly excited about this next step in my journey and thank everyone who's supported me along the way!