From Corporate to Startup
This blog is written by Ellie Jesse, our Campus Ambassador from UNC-Chapel Hill. Ellie is a senior studying public relations at the School of Journalism. Ellie is a marketing intern at 2tor Inc. in New York City. Follow her on Twitter: @EllieH_Jesse
This summer marks my third consecutive summer in New York City. Yay! To think it was only two years ago that I was living in a three-person dorm room, trying to navigate the streets with my Blackberry, and catching the wrong train on the way to work, ending up in Jersey (How I ended up on the PATH is still a mystery to me).
This summer I am back and excited as ever for a new internship experience at an online education startup company called 2tor. 2tor was founded in 2008 by two acclaimed thinkers in the higher education realm, John Katzman and Chip Paucek. Paucek, former CEO of Hooked on Phonics, and Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review (Thank you Mr. Katzman for helping me pass the SATs!), established 2tor in order to transform higher education by bringing it online without sacrificing quality, student experience or graduation and job placement rates.
2tor partners with top tier universities such as USC, Georgetown, Washington University, and last but certainly not least, UNC- Chapel Hill. As a Tar Heel myself, I am particularly excited to work with UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School to support and build their online MBA program, MBA@UNC.
Most recently, 2tor was named second behind Instagram on Forbes’ list of Top 10 Startups Changing the World. I can’t tell you how cool it is to be a part of such a great company.
I sat down with Alexa Scordato, Director of Communications and Social Media, to learn more about how she became involved with 2tor.
EJ: What is your professional background and how did you end up at 2tor?
AS: I’ve always been interested in how new technologies can connect people and ideas at a scale and rate that is unprecedented. When I graduated, I took a job in Boston at a software company where I helped the chairman and CEO with their social media. I learned a lot about business and marketing. After that, I spent some time consulting as a social media strategist. I took a job in New York on the social media team at Porter Novelli, a global PR firm. From there, I joined 2tor and I’ve been here for a little more than 2 years.
EJ: Having worked in both a corporate and startup setting, how do they compare?
AS: There are definitely pros and cons of both. When you are in a corporate setting, a lot of the work you do is judged on outside expectations; a client and senior management. One of the biggest differences with a start up is you are touching so many parts of the business. You feel so much more accountable to yourself and the work you do. In a corporate setting, you run into departments being siloed, complicated internal communication, and multiple layers of process and approval. At a startup it’s about figuring things out as you go and taking ownership of what you do.
EJ: Can you tell Intern Queen readers a little more about what 2tor is?
AS: 2tor is on a mission to fundamentally disrupt higher education. We partner with top tier universities and help them deliver high quality masters programs. We provide technology and infrastructure as well as the capital to take these programs online. We have six partner programs: UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and School of Government; University of Southern California’s Social Work program and Rossier School of Education and Rossier School of Education; Georgetown School of Nursing and Health Studies; and Washington University’s School of Law.
For the most part, people think of traditional learning at elite universities as being exclusive. Part of what makes us disruptive as a business is that we are scaling the quality of education and bringing it to the masses. We can take an on campus program that only accepts 100 students a year and deliver it to thousands of students around the world.
EJ: As a student and native of Chapel Hill, I have been exposed to Kenan Flagler’s on-campus MBA program. How do you think an MBA can benefit someone in social media or someone who wants to work at a start-up?
AS: It depends on the individual. There are a lot of people who argue you don’t need an MBA to be a good marketer, work at a start up or start your own company. That being said, there are very tangible skills related to finance and marketing that an MBA can definitely deliver. If you’re not the type of person who can be resourceful and acquire that information for yourself, getting an MBA is a great way to learn business basics and cultivate an impressive network of professional contacts.
EJ: Can you talk a bit about the Intern program at 2tor?
AS: We take a lot of pride in our 2terns program. Almost 10% of our full time employees started out as interns. In general we feel that interns are here to learn, they’re not just here to do administrative tasks. Each semester we find some of the best and brightest college students and we give them real work that is important to the business. To me, a successful internship involves constant learning and growth in a collaborative, fun environment. Every intern, whether they’re interested in marketing or not, should leave the summer knowing more about the company, the specific department they’re supporting, and last but not least, a great set of friends.