Toolbox LA Partners With Cal State Los Angeles To Offer Tech Startup Opportunities

For those who went to university, the fall season is synonymous with new possibilities. A new semester also means new courses, classmates, and professors. The energy is usually buzzing with excitement on campus with the thought of what will unfold over the next few months. This past fall was the perfect opportunity for Toolbox LA to partner with Cal State, Los Angeles for an internship with an undergraduate student.

Toolbox LA is an innovation hub in the San Fernando Valley that offers unique training grounds for students. It’s a space with resources such as the hardware accelerator program, Make in LA, the makerspace, Hexlab, and the biotech lab, Lab Launch. It’s a doorway with an exciting peak into the burgeoning Southern California startup landscape for those students curious enough to ask.

The Launchforce Internship

Launchforce, a program offered by Cal State University Los Angeles, helps match students to startups needing their skills through a 10-week program with $3,000 in paid hours. This opportunity was made possible thanks to a sponsorship by AT&T that offered hands-on, real-world experience to the right undergrad looking for a new challenge.

Sandybel Rojas, a freshman studying business management, joined our team as a sales intern for Toolbox LA. Her tasks included researching target demographics which in turn provided a framework for learning sales techniques and processes.

Sandy came on board with a great attitude and ready to take on the challenge. Although she was the youngest candidate we interviewed, she had the best interview due to her confident nature, the discussion around the alignment of her goals to be a future entrepreneur and non-profit organizer, and her strong commitment to community development.

As someone who had grown up on the south side of LA, Sandy was committed to building the kind of community she herself had experienced at a young age through a nonprofit called A Place Called Home. Through organizations such as this, she had become an active volunteer in programs like Teens Taking Action and Girl Power.

Before officially starting, Sandy worked with the community director to create personal and professional goals she wanted to reach during her time at Toolbox LA which included relationship building, understanding the sales process, and becoming a better presenter.

 

While coworking spaces were a new concept to Sandy, she took the time to research this innovative new way of working together through shared spaces and even visited other coworking spaces. Never before had she seen entrepreneurs collectively working in such a capacity, and especially doing yoga together. This changed her view of how people work together and gave her ideas for how Toolbox LA could use similar resources within the coworking space.

While working with the community director, she also learned how to create customer segments, develop a baseline script to speak with customers, send out emails, and make phone calls to potential clients. Through this process of outreach, Sandy was able to gain confidence and start making connections. Using various social media platforms, she was able to share the vision about the space and connect with new people.

Through this process of research and outreach, Sandy was able to connect with influential business leaders. These newfound skills allowed her to bring them into the space, make a connection, and book them to speak for future events.

As a follow-up action item that would support her process of improving her understanding of business professionalism, she was encouraged to join a business association on campus. She decided to join the Hispanic Business Association and was able to meet their board, giving Sandy a great inside look at what it takes to be a leader. Attending her first networking event with the organization allowed her to apply this knowledge to the real world and gain first-hand experience.

Her last project involved understanding a sales funnel and strategy by assisting with a report.

Sandybel’s internship concluded with a presentation at the university where she spoke about her experience and the skills she had improved upon such as research, outreach, and professional communication. Despite her nerves, Sandy gave a wonderful presentation. As a naturally gifted speaker, she had the audience smiling, laughing at her jokes, and taking the journey with her.

Not only was Sandy able to conquer her apprehension with outreach and networking, she also became a skilled presenter and public speaker.

Sandybel said, “It was a great experience, something that opened my eyes up to a whole new world of possibilities.”

We were very happy to have Sandy be a part of our team during her time at Toolbox LA. We’re always looking for great students interested in learning more about our work and mission. To learn more about opportunities to get involved, please contact us at raychel@toolbox.la.

Read more about Make in LA and Toolbox here:

MakeinLA.com  &  Toolbox.LA

medium.com/@makeinla  &  medium.com/@toolboxla