At F212, we care deeply about fostering a creative and exploratory culture. We hail from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and industries, but are connected by a shared passion to make things better and to make better things. For the past 18 years, we’ve maintained our unique culture by looking for deeply curious, smart, and passionate individuals — and making a commitment to invest in their personal growth. 

Through our summer internship program, we select talented rising college seniors and bring them on board for a 10-week stint. They are coached through our intensive “high dive” training program, staffed on project teams, and join us in cultural events. We see such tremendous growth and achievement throughout the summer. In fact, our interns have a tendency to exceed our expectations. Some return as full-time analysts and go on to become some of our most valuable team members. 

To give you a “sneak peek” into our 10-week summer internship program, we interviewed Samar Ahsan about her experience as a remote 2020 Summer Innovation & Strategy Intern.

Who are you, what do you study, and what are some of your interests?

I’m Samar Ahsan, a Pakistani-American. I just graduated a semester early, and I studied Information Management and Global Business at Georgetown University! I love eating acai bowls, playing volleyball and guitar, and I’ve become quite the coffee connoisseur over the past few years.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Be like the elephant. Slow to anger, but once mad, move to crush.” The point being, when you’re passionate about something and want to enact change, give it your all.

When did you first become interested in innovation? 

I’ve always had a note in my phone about the problems I come across and how I can solve them. In high school, I went on a long and uncomfortable flight and came up with Dream Air, an airplane that sedates you – puts you to sleep at takeoff and wakes you up at taxi. More recently, I realized I don’t like fumbling for my phone in the morning and checking numerous apps to start my day. I’d rather wake up and have pertinent information available, displayed on my wall or mirror! So I did it. I built a smart mirror!

How did you feel before the internship started? Did the experience meet your expectations? 

I thought the internship would be a standard experience, but it turned out to be very different from my expectations. I thought it would be unstructured, but it was a rigorous program. We went through high dive, a week-long bootcamp where all the interns work together to learn about the F212 innovation process and use those skills to solve a problem; our challenge was to determine a fundraising strategy for a non-profit that engaged small donors. Every minute was filled with different learning activities that ultimately built towards a final recommendation. The second Monday on the job, you deliver your idea to the whole company! 

 Our intern group had such crazy ideas like creating an experiential Pokémon Go type app, but what I really loved was an app based on microdonations. Every day, users can donate a “little droplet” to a specific issue. These little droplets ultimately make a big impact at the end of the year and create ripple effects across communities. It was so fun!

How did the virtual nature of your internship change your experience, if at all? 

Being virtual forces you to be present and not hide in the corner of the room. The fact that I got to set up “coffee chats” with everyone with the company was a little overwhelming, but it was a rewarding networking experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I also appreciated how F212 took time to develop its company culture even in a virtual environment. Wine night and impact talks were some of my favorite “out-of-office” activities.

What was your fondest memory of your internship? 

My fondest memory was getting close to the other interns. We FaceTimed consistently after high dive and ended up in the best conversations – we even guessed each other’s heights because we never met in person! Those little memories were so important, especially in a virtual setting. 

What surprised you the most about F212 or about working in innovation? 

Until recently, I didn’t understand innovation. Now I know that innovation is all about falling in love with the problem, not the solution. And iterating on your solutions. I thought that I’d just have that aha moment – or if I stared at a whiteboard long enough, a good idea would pop into my head. Innovation is a collaborative process, not a buzzword. 

Before, I was attached to the ideas I came up with, but I learned that you have to lose your ego. Ultimately, everyone building upon each other’s ideas gets the best results.

What product, service, or industry do you think is most ripe for innovation? 

Healthcare. With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are finally understanding the shortcomings of the health industry. There’s a company called Forward that is revolutionizing preventative healthcare, which is so important because 40% of all deaths can be prevented. It centralizes your data and uses tech to capture vitals, receive blood test results quickly, scan for skin cancer, etc, enabling your primary care physician to understand you holistically. It would disrupt how companies charge for health insurance. Now, there’s a spotlight on the industry; this is a pivotal moment.

What made you decide to come back as a full-time analyst? 

The culture. Of course I’d love to explore the city of NYC, but I want to work with (and become friends with) the team at F212. I have a lot to learn from each person and want to feel challenged every day. 

 If Samar’s summer internship experience sounds like something you’d be interested in, you’ll be glad to know we’re hiring! We welcome rising seniors to apply to our 2021 Summer Innovation & Strategy Internship Program here.