From QUEST to the Real World: How James Wang Turned his Capstone Project into an Internship
One of the most challenging and rewarding parts of the QUEST experience is the BMGT/ENES 490H (QUEST Capstone Professional Practicum) capstone project. Students get the chance to work with clients on real challenges and provide innovative recommendations. This offers a taste of what companies are doing in the real world. In some cases, students are able to work on projects that resonate with them and that they wish to take past the QUEST course itself.
James Wang, from Cohort 29, had such an experience earlier this year, getting the chance to continue his project over the summer as an intern. In the spring semester, James and his team worked with HelloFresh as their 490H client. HelloFresh is the largest meal kit provider in the United States and is based out of Berlin, Germany. The problem HelloFresh was facing was that their Direct Sales team had a lot of data available to them but weren’t able to take advantage of it when organizing sales events as this data was unorganized. The team wanted a way to leverage their data to cut down underperforming events.
James says that working with his team over the semester was a great experience. The biggest challenges were at the start of the semester, as the team took some time to get acquainted with each other and collaborate well. The end result was well worth it though, as they were able to come up with a final deliverable that impressed their assigned project champions. Their final product was a program to help organize the data at HelloFresh better. James says, “It was really rewarding to hear the excitement from our project champions and learn about the impact the tool could have at HelloFresh once implemented.” The biggest takeaway for James from his 490H experience was the importance of communication. He stresses, “Whether it be communicating to the client a reasonable set of goals for the week, explaining the high-level functionality of some code we wrote to our champions during a call, or getting the team to set standards and timelines for each other’s tasks, communication was probably the most important factor.”
At the end of the semester, James reached out to his project champion to see if it would be possible to continue working with HelloFresh over the summer. Due to the rapport they’d already established through the semester, it was pretty smooth sailing from there. James visited the company’s headquarters in New York City and got a feel for the company’s environment and culture. He found it to be a good fit and decided that he’d like to work there over the summer.
The transition from 490H to HelloFresh was seamless as he’d already gotten to know the members of the Sales team. He liked being able to own the product he was working on, rather than just advising a client. In his words, “I was able to get a lot more specific with
my recommendations because not only was I kind of the ‘product owner’ who went out and identified user needs and issues with current tools or processes, but also the person who developed, tested, gathered feedback for, implemented, and gave training for the best solution.” One of his projects over the summer was actually taking the final product from the 490H project and turning it into an integrated, easy-to-use, standalone application. The team at HelloFresh was excited about that project, as it was able to give them a lot of insight into the data they had collected.
James was able to apply a lot of the skills he’s picked up at QUEST over the summer. He says, “I think the biggest skill I leveraged at HelloFresh that I learned through QUEST was working with people with different academic backgrounds and being able to communicate effectively with them.”
The biggest takeaway James has from this whole experience is to always keep an open mind about things. He concludes, “A lot of my team’s ideas and solutions throughout the project came from unlikely sources or wild ‘joke’ ideas that actually turned out to be pretty solid. I probably wouldn’t have even thought to stay on with HelloFresh this summer had I not kept an open mind.”