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Why did I give my CEO job to a college intern?

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At the beginning of the summer, I was asked to support the True Ventures TEC Fellowship program by finding a position for Bozhena, a rising junior from Boston College. At Pepperlane, we were thrilled to be part of the program and very happy to have Bozhena join the team for the summer. Bozhena is a talented, positive young woman who has the quintessential entrepreneurial spirit every leader needs.

The first time I met Bozhena, she was curious to know what it feels like to be a CEO. She asked about leadership, whether it is hard, and if it is worth it. I thought about our first conversation a lot and realized that the best way for Bozhena to truly learn what it is like to be CEO is to give her my job! 

I gave Bozhena a couple of weeks to settle into her internship before I told her my plan to hand over my role for one day. She was a bit overwhelmed, but also intrigued by the challenge and she agreed. I’m a firm believer in teaching young people to start before they are ready, because this is a critical skill in entrepreneurship. I was happy Bozhena was game.

July 2nd was the big day! Bozhena took over my role—she had a day full of meetings with the team, she had to make decisions, she ran the stand-up meeting, and my team reported to her for the whole day. In return, she needed to report back on what it feels like to be a CEO. You can read all about it, here.

It isn’t a common practice to hand the keys of your company to an intern, but I’m glad I did it and here is why:

 

  • See it so she can believe it: Giving Bozhena my CEO role helped her picture what it could be like for her one day. Being able to visualize your goals makes them easier to achieve. Young women and girls envisioning themselves as CEO can be challenging because there are few examples of women in those roles. I consider it my responsibility to create more executive opportunities for women and this “CEO for a Day” exercise is a helpful tool to set young women on that path.
  • You don’t have to be CEO to lead: Anyone in an organization can lead, no matter their position. They just need confidence and willingness to try. I wanted to show Bozhena that even without years of experience, she has the intuition and listening skills to be able to make decisions and contribute to the company. This was one of her big takeaways from the experience and I’m so pleased. 
  • Major resume upgrade - Bozhena will be entering the workforce during a challenging economic period. She’s talented and I want to give her a leg up during her job search. Don’t you think seeing “CEO of Pepperlane (for a day)” on her resume will draw in potential employers? She will be able to talk about her experience as a leader during this opportunity in a way that few of her peers can. 

I achieved my immediate goal of providing a unique and formative experience for a talented young person. Now I’ve set myself a long-term goal of encouraging more female executives to do the same in their organizations. 

Written by Team Pepperlane

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