I worked for eight weeks this summer at Zamzee, a health-oriented start-up in Redwood City, California with 11 employees. Zamzee operates as a small for-profit company, but works toward a large charitable goal. By linking the expanding realm of social media with the medical industry, the company aims to address the rising epidemic of childhood obesity in America. Partnering with obesity clinics in major hospitals, Zamzee sells a device similar to Nike’s Fuelband that pairs with a social networking website. Kids complete physical activities in exchange for virtual prizes and tangible rewards, advancing through “levels” of the website as they continue to be active. While the prizes Zamzee offers may initially incentivize the kids, many users become motivated to complete challenges simply to feel better and enjoy movement – the end goal of the Zamzee experience.
As a Business Operations intern, I divided my time between troubleshooting online Customer Support issues and keeping track of Zamzee’s inventory of prizes. During a typical workday, I spent half my time working through the online administrator system of Zamzee to solve customer issues, and the other half on large-scale order fulfillment– making sure a hospital or clinic was receiving our product as quickly as possible. Special projects (like documenting shipping protocols and producing video tutorials for the website) allowed me to contribute in more creative ways. I typically worked 6 hours a day, and was paid $15/hour. While there weren’t any tangible perks of note (besides the office ping-pong table), my working environment was a perk in itself. My hours were flexible, my boss was supportive, and I was left to my own devices for much of the day.
I learned a lot at Zamzee. Prior to my internship, I had never worked in a formal office environment — I spent high school summers as a camp counselor, tutor, or lacrosse coach, working with peers rather than adults. These positions were challenging in their own way, but my experience at Zamzee required me to assume a more professional role. While the small, inclusive environment at Zamzee made me comfortable, the accountability and visibility commensurate with a full-time employee came with the territory. This was initially unnerving, but ultimately was an aspect of the work that I appreciated. Even as an intern, I felt like a part of the permanent “team” at Zamzee, and worked to contribute relevant ideas and content. My experience at Zamzee taught me the importance of personal responsibility in a company setting, and while I may not end up at a start-up in the future, my time at this one was valuable.