Many William & Mary undergraduate and graduate students take advantage of the summer months to broaden their skills and gain experience in their chosen fields through internships. This story is the first in a series that will explore some of the intriguing internships that students are engaged in this summer. — Ed.
For most William & Mary students, summertime is more than a season to work on their tans. After spring exams — and a much-needed rest — members of the Tribe scatter hither and yon to make the most of the warmer season by becoming camp counselors, researching in labs and archives or pursuing summer work.
And some students, like Mariana Navarrete Morales, MBA/MPP ’16, set their sights even broader. This summer, Navarrete Morales is a digital marketing intern with Chatabl, a start-up company founded in 2014 by a team of French and American entrepreneurs and based in Paris.
Although living in France is a new experience for her, Navarrete Morales is no stranger to international experiences. A Mexico native, she received her bachelor's degree in international relations from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, a private research university in Mexico City. At William & Mary, Navarrete Morales works with Associate Professor Scott McCoy to help prepare other students for experiences in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In addition, she works with the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations on its Teaching, Research and International Policy (TRIP) program, which collects data on international relations instruction across the globe.
Her background suggests a focus on Latin American projects, but Navarrete Morales has always had a soft spot for France. As an undergraduate, Navarrete Morales studied French and also a number of French friends.
“I find very interesting French culture and history, especially because Mexico had strong French influence at the beginning of the 20th century” she said. “I always wanted to practice my French in a francophone country.”
This internship provided her that opportunity. Appropriately enough, she landed the job with this Internet start-up via the Internet.
“I found the internship posted on a social network. After sending my CV, I did two interviews via Skype and I got the job,” Navarrete Morales said. “Although I did not have previous experience in marketing, they thought I was bringing other things to the table because of my experience on management consulting and business intelligence.”
According to Navarrete Morales, Chatabl is in the final stages of developing an online platform that aims to replace ubiquitous — but often toxic — comment sections with personalized discussion groups, supplemented by a scoring system powered by user recommendations. Mariana’s role within the organization is to develop strategy for both user acquisition and pricing, as well as to contribute to the start-up’s overall marketing plan.
Despite its focus on marketing, the internship actually meshes well with Mariana’s prior academic experiences and interests.
“The internship with Chatabl has allowed me to learn about the public policy promoting entrepreneurship and economic development in France, and to draw comparisons with the U.S. and Mexico,” she said. “The internship requires me to do extensive research on marketing and advertising, which is what I want to pursue for my career after graduation.”
Living in Paris has been an exciting experience for Mariana, and one enriched by the global William & Mary network.
“Before traveling, I asked the Records Department to reach out on my behalf to the W&M alumni living in France,” Navarrete Morales said. “As a result, I had the opportunity to meet Servane Burel ’85. She kindly invited me to spend a weekend with her family in Chantilly, a beautiful little town outside Paris. I even saw pictures of her commencement ceremony at the Kaplan Arena and Wren building!”
For Navarrete Morales, working with Chatabl in Paris has become another indispensable tile in her life’s mosaic of international experiences.“When I decided to study abroad my goal was to get as much international experience as I could, to be out of my comfort zone, and the internship with Chatabl has definitely enriched the overall graduate experience personally and professionally,” Navarrete Morales said.