Max Sahlins '17 & Harris Brody '98
When alumnus Max Sahlins '17, now a sophomore at Yale, began thinking about possible summer internships last winter, he knew he had the considerable resources of Yale University available to him. But, he also remembered the close-knit community back at Head-Royce and reached out to the Alumni Office to connect with several alumni in his area of interest.
A double-major in economics and middle eastern history, Max was looking for a summer internship that would provide exposure within the financial industry and help build his resume. He found that opportunity with fellow alumnus, Harris Brody '98, a Partner at Blue Fog Capital, a Berkeley-based venture capital firm specializing in early-stage investments in the healthcare, technology, and consumer industries.
Over the course of a 6-week internship at Blue Fog, Max was able to gain real-world experience in a variety of ways. He was responsible for several projects, including creating a fundraising information memorandum for one of their portfolio company’s C-rounds—a deck that the CEO is currently using to present the opportunity to prospective investors—and multiple research reports on public companies that Blue Fog currently maintains an interest in. In addition to his projects, Max was allowed to sit in on a number of business lunches, phone calls and board meetings, to observe first-hand how business took place.
“I thought I was a fairly capable researcher, until I met Harris,” says Max. “I was really able to refine that skill with his help. It was also cool to see how Harris thinks and how he interprets ideas; it was pretty eye-opening.”
The guidance and mentorship that Harris provided also included regular check-ins to review active projects, but also to discuss questions that Max may have had about what he saw or heard. On the final day of the internship, Harris sat down with Max to do a thorough review of his resume to make sure it accurately reflected all of the work he had done in a way that Max could highlight and talk about in future interviews.
For Harris, this opportunity was a way for him to give back to the school. As a member of the Mergers & Acquisition team at J.P. Morgan, he had always admired the company’s high school internship program, and wanted to do something similar for Head-Royce grads. A notion that did not disappoint.
“I am impressed with Max’s ability to think outside the box and dig in to the challenges in front of him. He is clearly very bright, but what I am most impressed with is his ability to work independently, his strong work ethic, and his inquisitive nature. He is functioning at a level beyond that of a college freshman—no doubt a result of his time at Head-Royce,” recalls Harris.
When asked whether he would take on another intern this summer, or even during the school year, he answers with a resounding "yes." He mentions that doing a little bit of pre-planning went a long way in preparing for the internship and noted the added benefit of working with college students who have a wealth of existing research resources available to them through their school.
“I was unsure what to expect from this internship, but am pleased that it was valuable for Max and also for our organization. I got a lot of leverage from having Max work with us this summer and Max got some great real-world experience. In retrospect, it was much easier than imagined.”
Both Harris and Max expect their relationship will continue long past this summer, with Max updating Harris on his opportunities going forward and Harris continuing to offer his advice and guidance.
"Harris has been an invaluable resource both during and after the internship. He has helped refine my research skill set, and taught me a new way of thinking and approaching the world."
Max adds that other members of the Head-Royce community have also given him helpful counsel including alumnus and parent Rick Arney '88 and parent Rodolfo Martell.
There are a countless number of resources on the topic of networking and building business relationships—an Amazon search results in over 10,000 books dedicated to the topic alone. But sometimes, as this story highlights, the most meaningful resources are those in your own backyard.
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