Isel Otero Torres is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in management consulting and French. She grew up in South Bend and most of her family is still nearby. “When my mother learned I would be attending Notre Dame and not leaving for a school in California, she was very happy,” she says.
Over the course of that first summer, Isel had the opportunity to work on about four startups. She enjoyed the exposure to a variety of projects. “Some of the companies I was working on were either very engineering or technology-focused, which I enjoyed, since I am not exposed to these areas as much in my classes.”
Isel works on the IDEA Center’s Problem Validation team, with IDEA Center Staff and other student interns. “We determine what sort of customer would be interested in the proposed product, and then we conduct interviews. I talk to as many people as I can, take notes, and then condense that information. We try to find out if the proposed product is solving an actual problem. This process can take weeks!”
This first-hand, real-world experience is very different from her experience in the classroom, Isel says. “I have talked to veterinarians, authors, publishers, trainers, nutritionists. I speak with a wide range of people, depending on the startup I’m working on. I have to learn about things I might not be learning about in my coursework.”
“The experience has helped me out with my communication skills. It has helped me understand problems more, how the consumer might be affected, and how to make sure the consumer is benefitting. You need the consumer in order to have a business!”
This past summer, Isel landed an internship at Accenture. She is back in her intern role at the IDEA Center for this school year and has been able to work on several more startups. After graduating from Notre Dame next May, she will be joining Accenture’s Chicago office full-time.
Isel and her mother are happy about that.