In 2020, COVID-19 shutdowns prevented CWRU students from working their summer internships. In response to the problem, the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship created the Remote Entrepreneurship Project (REP) Program, pairing students with startups across the country for a remote internship experience. Many of those students have since graduated from Case Western Reserve University and have made strides in their careers. See how the REP program impacted their career trajectory.
Cooper Reif (CWR '22)
What are you up to now?
Working as an Application & Program Analyst for Deloitte Consulting while continuing my startup work with LEAF.
How did your time as an REP intern impact your career trajectory?
Working at Folio Photonics served as a great crash course in working independently. No longer was I an intern working alongside other interns or directly filling in for side jobs for a supervisor. At Folio, I was handed the unique task to design an apparatus to hold a data storage disk under a confocal microscope so that it can be studied without any potential damage to the disk. As the sole mechanical engineer at the startup, everything was in my hands, and it was up to me to employ everything that the university had taught me thus far. Through using CAD software, proper project management, and working as an engineer in a private venture looking to turn a profit, I refined many skills that have served me well in my career thus far. Engineering has long been my passion, especially the hands-on side of things. That being said, my experience as a REP intern with Folio showed me that I also have a major interest in how the world of engineering can lead to success within a business venture. This newfound curiosity of mine has been a heavy driver into my current roles as the CFO of a tech startup with LEAF as well as a tech consultant with Deloitte.
Before you applied for the REP program, did you have another internship planned that was impacted by COVID?
While I didn't have one set internship that I was previously committed to, my 10+ applications to other internship programs as well as my ability to work at the company I interned for that last summer all disappeared with the fast spread of COVID-19. I quickly made plans to take a summer school class due to the lack of other options, but when REP showed up it perfectly fit into the other half of my summer, giving me the real-world experience that I desired from the start.
How did CWRU, REP and other CWRU programs prepare you for your work now?
For me, the three biggest learning experiences for me at CWRU were my entrepreneurship classes, REP, and my experience as a Great Lakes Energy Institute ThinkEnergy Fellow. The latter of the three served as a breeding ground for like-minded people at CWRU that were interested in both the future of energy and entrepreneurship. It was here that LEAF was born. LEAF is a startup that automates the wiring design process of rooftop solar projects. The ThinkEnergy Fellowship was the perfect incubation environment for this venture, having access to both energy and business startup resources. From there, the knowledge that I learned in my entrepreneurship classes was immediately put to use in helping to grow LEAF. I'd have a hard time remembering a business meeting where I wouldn't chime in with, "Hey I remember in ENTPXXX we learned about y, I think that would come into play here." Finally, REP itself was a first dive into what life at a startup looks like. It taught me how to wear different hats and how to tackle new and innovative challenges in a way that best serves the business.