Always clean up your mess-interning at a start-up

Mariah has some advice for those who want to land internships at start-ups: put yourself out there and always clean up your mess. In Mariah’s 1st semester at Simpson, she received an email announcing the Des Moines Start-Up Job Crawl and on a whim, decided to take part. Although start-ups are generally tech focused and Mariah’s interests fell toward marketing and public relations, she signed up. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

As Mariah puts it, “Dwolla was the last stop on the job crawl and it was getting late. I almost skipped it.”

It’s a good thing she didn’t-a quick chat with some of the team and an encounter with Dwolla founder Ben Mline (he noticed her initiative to clean up the mess when she accidentally knocked over someone’s drink!) led to an internship at the company her 2nd semester at Simpson.

She’s gone back to Dwolla twice since then for internships at the growing organization. This summer, Mariah is working more than ever as part of the team. “I’m focused on content generation, event planning and developing our internal culture… Culture – that’s not something that just happens. We are intentional about making sure the culture we started with grows with us as we grow here and elsewhere.” Mariah explains that internal events, like the hackathon she coordinated last week, are key to ensuring the culture of innovation and creativity remain. She has also developed video content and offered her hand to the business development team.

When asked about how her Simpson education has informed her work at Dwolla, Mariah says coursework and individual assistance from faculty has been vital. “My writing has grown and developed thanks to (Professor) Brian Steffen. He pushed me to strive to improve upon my writing and be willing learn from other’s work. As far as video editing and production, Lisa Carponelli has been instrumental. I took her video 101 course and it gave me a solid base for the work I’m doing now.”

Mariah has one more year at Simpson where she will finish up her IMC-Creative major and marketing minor and then it’s off to a new adventure. Her semester in London, Fall 2013 and travels around Europe ignited her to take advantage of any unknown situation and make it her own. Maybe she’ll stay in Des Moines, maybe she’ll head to a big urban center or maybe she’ll take some time to explore.


Dwolla is a Des Moines based mobile and online payments system. A number of Simpson alumni have found success at the organization in Des Moines and in San Francisco.

Interested in landing your own internship at a start-up venture? Talk with a faculty member to learn more.

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