The Intern Chronicles Pt. 2

There is possibly no better way to get to know the innovative side of Chicago than to get dropped off in front of the Merchandise Mart with no warning and only a hint of a plan.

Hi all, this is Maya, your friendly neighborhood marketing intern, and this is a true account of my trip with my co-intern, Marissa, to yesterday’s WISTEM showcase at our partner venue, 1871. Although we’ve been in Chicago for a couple of weeks now, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for standing in front of the world’s largest commercial building when I had been expecting some type of industrial loft. Even if someone had warned me that the place had its own zip code, I don’t think I would have understood the size of this building until I stepped inside.

When we finally found our way to 1871--after convincing ourselves that we were in the right place and not hopelessly lost--I was actually able to take in the setting; separate from the commercial uniformity of the rest of theMART, 1871 seemed comfortable in it’s quirky, modern layout. Even the name of the venue lends itself to a creative environment; 1871, the year of the Chicago fire, is remembered by its members as the year that amazing minds came together to build a new Chicago. It was clear that 1871’s represented it’s name’s meaning perfectly, fostering creating technological start-up companies built from the ground up.


The WiSTEM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) event itself took place in 1871’s auditorium. Most importantly, the room had plenty of room for the booths of the 12 women-owned tech companies that WiSTEM has supported with education, mentoring, capital, and community this past spring.

Marissa and I took note of some of the standouts:

CELEBR8--who makes tech allows people to organize group dinners, invite guests, reserve restaurants, choose a menu, prepay, and split the bill all in one place;

Tassel Turn--which connects foster care students with a personalized education assistant, allowing them a constant in their ever-changing lives;

Cora--which each piece of furniture in a picture of a room to a piece offered at furniture retailers, making it easy for customers to choose cohesive furniture;

IRL Trivia--which provides companies with a modern, interactive team-building game described as a cross between Heads-Up and Trivia Crack.

As a woman interning at a small business, it is empowering to watch 12 self-starter women promote their promising tech companies, and to hear about all the support they have received from the WiSTEM and 1871 communities. As a woman, starting a company now has become statistically easier than it was in the past, with women making up 40% of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. (CNBC) The issue of a separation between genders in the business world now seems to lie not in women start-up, but in scale-up. 36% of businesses in the U.S. are women-owned, but they only account for only 12% of sales and 15% of employment. Additionally, 99.9% of all women-owned businesses are considered to be ‘small businesses’ (U.S. DOL). Because of this, organizations like WiSTEM and support from other business owners are clearly influential--and some might say play a crucial role--in the growth of women-owned businesses.  

We--both Marissa and myself--are extremely excited to have had this opportunity and to continue to learn and grow at Amazing Edibles!

Andrea Herrera