It was on Mount Kilimanjaro that Annie Hsu found inspiration to pursue education technology–when she got to know a young porter on the trek. “I asked Noah about the difficulty of his work and his response was, ‘It’s our job to carry things, so we must have the spirit to carry things,’” says Hsu. “His remarkable drive and attitude made me wonder what such a young man could accomplish if he had access to better resources and opportunities.”
Student: Annie Hsu, MBA 14.
Interning with: Chegg, a website dubbed “The Student Hub,” Santa Clara, CA. On fellowship through Education Pioneers.
Education because: “Being a student is a life journey filled with lessons, growing pains, and challenges. Chegg helps students succeed in high school and college with scholarships, college matching, study help, and discounted textbooks, while Education Pioneers prepares leaders to transform the education system so that all children receive a high quality education.”
Can’t believe she’s getting the chance to: Take on a mission she could personally relate to: discovering how to increase engagement of high school students. “I recruited high school students for focus groups and was fascinated with what I learned about their priorities, pain points, and dreams. I was encouraged to ‘think big’ on ways we could help them and felt pleased to have created a solution that increased the relevancy and impact of Chegg products.”
A year ago, would not have known: “What it would feel like to work at a young VC-backed company that is still growing and evolving at a rapid pace. At Chegg, the environment is conducive to creativity and ideation, which can be incredibly exciting. However, for these ideas to take flight and have actual impact – I realized buy-in from key players was critical; and the only way to get this buy-in is to take the time to get to know these key players and truly understand their unique values.”
From the classroom to real life: “In my Opportunity Recognition class, we studied entrepreneurship, startups, and technology in the Silicon Valley. Books like Randy Komisar’s “Getting to Plan B” and case studies on startups taught me about the valuable lessons that could be learned from failures and tactics on pivoting until you succeed. “At Chegg, there were many instances where I had to alter my approach until I got it right. For instance, I started my project operating in a relatively formal manner – one that I was used to with my previous Fortune 500 clients. One day, I was told to make the tone of my work ‘more fun’ which made me realize I was dealing with a very different culture and set of company values. I loved the opportunity to express a different side of myself and apply new skills.”
Inside Chegg: “Since Chegg’s customers are students – the interns are the target audience. We felt like the stars, since everyone wanted to know how we think and what we like. I got pulled into meetings to give product feedback, brainstormed on-campus marketing events, and shared feedback on my favorite music, apps, and news websites.”
Advancing career goals by: “Diving deeper into the possibilities of improving personalization and learning outcomes for students through technology. Also, through Education Pioneers, I’ve met people passionate about transforming the education system. We had heated discussions on teacher effectiveness, power and privilege, and the opportunity gap. I was inspired by the passion and learned a ton about the key issues in education.”