Finding Support and Confidence as a Woman in Leadership: An Interview with Elise Gelwicks
Elise Gelwicks is the Founder of InternView. InternView partners with companies to design, manage, and enhance their internship programs. Internships allow companies to get project work done at a low cost, while also increasing the diversity of their teams by hiring interns from different universities and backgrounds. A strong internship program builds a company’s brand awareness, allowing them to attract top talent. InternView makes designing and running these internship programs seamless and effective.
We were able to learn more about Elise and her inspiration for founding InternView.
What inspired you to found InternView?
My interest in the internship world started in college. When I was a junior in college, I started a business to help students find summer internships. I did individual and group consulting and sold a self-published workbook. Years later, after graduating and working in the consumer products and management consulting industries, I found myself being pulled back into the internship world.
I am currently in the process of publishing a book for students on how to get an internship during their freshman year of college. While doing research for my book, I realized a gap in the industry: companies don’t have time to plan for and oversee their internship programs. To maximize returns for both the company and the interns, InternView helps design effective internship programs that are easily implemented. These internships are a key way for companies to increase diversity and bring in talent that ordinarily would not be on their radar. It also creates a strong pipeline of future leaders, which is critical in today’s low-unemployment environment.
How did your background help you in becoming a founder?
I spent the first few years of my career working for a Fortune 200 consumer products company. I then transitioned into management consulting where I specialized in change management work to guide companies through periods of transition. This includes mergers & acquisitions, restructuring, process design, and training development. I started InternView when I realized my passion is helping students and companies have awesome internship experiences.
How does technology play a role in InternView and its evolution?
InternView is in the process of creating online courses for students on how to get an internship and then thrive in their internship. We are also creating courses for companies to train key stakeholders, such as an HR representative, on how to structure and plan for an internship program.
Who have you been able to connect and work with through InternView?
InternView helps clients with talent acquisition by partnering with sites that are focused on connecting interns to companies. We also work closely with universities to coordinate recruiting and campus visits.
What impact has InternView had on the community?
By building strong, impactful internship experiences, InternView is giving students of all backgrounds the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience and explore different career paths before graduating from college. We believe that this leads to more meaningful career choices, which leads to greater fulfillment and satisfaction. We also emphasize the importance of paid internships to help level the playing field for students of all different backgrounds to apply for positions.
How long have you been a woman in leadership?
I am a firm believer that all women, no matter their job title, are women in leadership. Leadership takes on different forms. In my first job out of college, I was a leader of my company's internship program. Now, as the Founder of InternView, I am in a more traditional role as a woman leading a company. It is the accumulation of "micro-leadership" roles that prepared me to lead InternView.
What challenges have you faced as a woman founding your own company?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is that people who are in positions of power have tried to pressure me into making a decision that wouldn't be in my best interest. Starting a business is scary - and you often feel vulnerable and insecure. I have learned to be confident in myself and to keep my guard up until I really get to know someone. With that said, the vast majority of people I have met have been incredibly generous and supportive.
Where have you found support to continue your venture?
I have been blown away by the support I have received from others. I often talk about how I don't have all the answers - when you start a company you learn as you go. I think my transparency and vulnerability has resonated with people and they want to help and support someone who is going after their passion. I have met mentors through mutual connections, networking groups, LinkedIn, and prior work experiences.
What inspires you to focus on diversity and inclusion?
Diversity is the key to successful teams and companies. Diversity of thought and experience fosters an environment of creative ideas. As I partner with companies to design and enhance their internship programs, we often focus on creating an internship that brings in diverse candidates. Since internships create a talent pipeline for full-time hires, diverse internship programs lead to diverse companies.
What do diversity and inclusion mean to you?
Diversity and inclusion signify openness and appreciation for fresh perspectives. A diverse and inclusive team is more innovative, effective, and satisfied.