Navigating the Startup TNT Internship Program: A Journey of Professional Growth

By Jarrett Mansergh, Startup TNT Intern, Fall 2023

I applied to the Startup TNT internship program to immerse myself within the thriving startup ecosystem of the Triangle. While I have a deep technical background, I had no idea how a startup raised capital, scaled, or operated. 

Reflecting on my expectations, the Startup TNT program pleasantly surprised me. Initially anticipating a more business-centric focus, I realized the program was heavily people-oriented. This revelation underscored the immense value of leveraging networks within the Triangle’s startup landscape. CED’s mission, centered around fostering connections among founders, investors, and corporate partners, seamlessly aligned with my career goals of bridging business and science. This alignment provided me with a wealth of networking opportunities, invaluable advice, and an infectious enthusiasm for carving a career at this intersection. 

During the internship, I encountered a significant challenge: breaking free from my comfort zone. Engaging in conversations and establishing connections in unfamiliar fields tested the social capabilities of an awkward scientist. What really allowed me to thrive was the support from the team at CED. Having a group of people in your corner that believe in your abilities was not something I was familiar with in academia. Their kindness and readiness to make introductions has provided me with invaluable insights and connections. To prospective interns, I wholeheartedly recommend embracing this openness and discomfort. Asking questions and actively engaging with the expansive CED network can yield a wealth of knowledge and colleagues within a remarkably short period.

In conclusion, the Startup TNT internship program has been transformative. It not only broadened my professional horizons but also reshaped my understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape. This experience significantly shifted my perception of startups. Previously fixated solely on the scientific aspect, I now recognize the value of a well-rounded executive team. Without the right team behind a startup, it is only a cool science project. The bridging of technical expertise and interpersonal connections is, I’ve come to realize, the cornerstone of a successful venture in the startup ecosystem.

Jarrett Mansergh is a Chemistry PhD student at Duke University. Following his graduation in May 2024, he hopes to continue his professional career in the Triangle area, Boston, or Minnesota. 

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