Cameron Davis, M&T’25 spent his summer working at Jeff Grimes’ M&T’15 start-up Shades.

Cameron was able to gain this valuable experience via the Intern Fellowship Award, which allows students to apply for funding so they can spend their summers working in a start-up environment. Herewith, he talks about his internship experience, why he applied to M&T, and how it’s shaping his plans for the future.

Q: Congratulations on being awarded an Intern Fellowship Award for your internship last summer. Can you tell us a little bit about it? 

CD: Thank you. Yes, the fellowship is for M&T students interning at start-ups. It’s a subsidy because not all start-ups can pay a fair wage for interns so it’s a way to be able to gain valuable experience and be compensated for your time. When I arrived at Penn as a freshman, I was adamant about working for smaller stage companies, so this was an important experience for me, and I’m grateful I was awarded the fellowship.

Q: Where did you work and what was your role?

CD: I worked for Jeff Grimes’ (M&T’15) start-up, Shades. The premise of Shades is about bringing unbiased news to a broad audience. It’s basically a news aggregate as it brings in articles on a particular news topic from several sources to reduce bias. We prefer to call it a culture app rather than a news app.

For this internship, I served as a software engineer – and it was my first software engineering internship. I had previously interned at both a hedge fund and at a large private fund, so this was my transition to the tech world. Because Shades is still in start-up mode, I got a lot of hands-on experience. My summer project was creating – from scratch – an interactive feature to the app in the form of a poll of recent news facts for users to see what they know and increase their knowledge of what’s going on in the world. I saw it through to fruition during my internship so that was really valuable for me.

Working at a start-up was a great experience for me, overall. I had great mentors throughout the entire process, and I was able to meet with Jeff Grimes on a daily basis, which was invaluable. I was also able to make mistakes and learn from them – which was a different aspect to this internship. In the corporate world, you’re sort of set up to not make mistakes, and it’s just so different in a start-up environment where you really have to do your best to figure things out and when mistakes happen, be ready to pivot in a new direction.

Q: How is the M&T Program shaping your future?

CD: I started interning in high school in finance so when I came to Penn my perspective of the workforce was all finance. Technology was sort of a foreign concept to me. My interest was in the world of stocks, and I found it interesting that consumer opinion formulates the prices of things and how they are valued. When I was applying to schools, I thought I wanted to be in venture capital because that’s as hands-on as it gets in the finance world. I applied to M&T because I thought it would be valuable as a venture capitalist to have both an engineering degree and a business degree – to understand technology and also how to grow and scale a company. There’s a lot of value that comes from learning about both.

I’m studying systems engineering (applied mathematics) with a concentration in artificial intelligence and a minor in mathematics as well as studying entrepreneurship. I’m learning how things work and learning that everything runs off math. I’m not sure about what I want to get into when I graduate. Right now, I’m keeping all doors open and the M&T Program is giving the opportunity to learn what is best.

Q: What is the value of M&T from a student perspective?

CD: I never would have had the internship opportunity with Shades if it weren’t for M&T. In terms of career aspirations, M&T is helpful because there are so many alumni who are willing to be a mentor and provide guidance. I am consistently blown away by the insane amount of talent around me here on campus. There are so many people here that know so much and I’m able to meet them, talk to them, learn from them. Beyond academics, M&T is a community, and you feel that when you’re here on campus.

Q: Do you have any advice for younger students or high school students considering applying to the M&T program?

CD: Be authentic to your curiosities. I got into M&T because there was something I thought might be cool and I looked it up. I took the liberty to investigate dual degree programs based on something I was interested in and here I am a junior at Penn, with almost two degrees, and a resume that includes some great internships. It’s often just as easy to not do something as it is to do something. Do your best to explore, ask why, and follow the things that interest you.