Startup scene in São Paulo: Three students share stories from their internships

Author: Emily Kempf

Img 9972 2Daniela Bohrt spent part of her summer interning at

Brazil’s growing technology and startup sector is proving increasingly attractive to Notre Dame students. While the technology and ecommerce industry is already well established in the United States, the environment in Brazil is one of excitement and uncertainty, with startups making big bets and jostling for dominance and market share.

Talent hungry startups embrace the opportunity to put the skills and intellect of Notre Dame at work in their organization, giving them serious projects and responsibilities. Learn more about the opportunities abroad and hear the stories of three students who spent their summer in the São Paulo startup scene.

Daniela Bohrt

Daniela Bohrt, a junior studying industrial design from Bolivia, interned at this past summer. Her work allowed her to use and enhance her technical skills related to inbound marketing, with a particular focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). One of her projects involved reviewing traffic to the site to understand possible reasons why a potential customer would visit the site, yet not make a purchase. She was surprised to find that many potential customers left the site after only one search. Digging further, she found that many of these customers had received an error message resulting from spelling mistakes or entering the incorrect name for a product.

Her research culminated in creating a list of the top 100 words that resulted in these error messages, which was then shared with the IT team so they could add a “Did you mean” feature, offering alternative suggestions to potential customers instead of an error message.

Completing this ambitious project with only minimal support was made possible by a work environment she describes as one where workers are constantly encouraged to think on their own and take initiative to creatively solve problems.

“I felt like my work mattered,” reflects Daniela.

On a personal level, Daniela said her internship gave her a new appreciation for the challenges of work-life balance, something she had previously heard a great deal about but had not experienced personally.

“Apart from my 8 a.m. to p.m. job, I had to find the time to prepare three meals per day, do my laundry, go grocery shopping, and go to the gym,” she says.

“I also couldn’t miss out on Sao Paulo, so I made it a priority to explore the city, taste the incredible food, and meet the locals. This enriched my experience even more because I experienced Sao Paulo like a local, not only as a tourist.”

Celie Ahn


Celie Ahn, a junior studying business analytics, returned to her home town of São Paulo, Brazil to intern at an exciting new startup in the human resources industry called PinPeople. Inspired by the example of her co-workers, Celie says the experience was transformational and improved her self confidence.

“I still remember my first couple of days, I would shyly ask and answer questions and constantly feel insecure about my work,” reflects Celie.

"Still, my mentor and my co-workers motivated me to be more assertive by giving me the security that what I did was good and by assuring me that they would help me if I made any mistakes or had to be better. I am now sure that in my next experience, I will be able to perform better with this confidence.”

While Celie is still discerning what professional experience she will pursue next, she says her internship had a great impact in shaping her career path and future endeavors. Specifically, she will always remember the advice and example of an internship mentor who encouraged her to be more daring and open to taking risks in pursuit of her passions.

Even as a São Paulo native, she was not immune from gaining a new perspective on the city.

“Although I was born and raised in Brazil, I had never gotten the chance to reflect upon this country as a place I could pursue my career endeavors,” says Celie. “Being able to experience working in Brazil personally this summer, allowed me to see another side of Brazil that I did not see before.”

Ivan Negro Rocha

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Ivan Negro Rocha, a sophomore finance and economics major, also hails from São Paulo and chose to return to intern at another hot startup, CloudWalk. He says the opportunity helped him focus on his future career, specifically industries he needs to research and expertise he should acquire.

His internship opened his eyes to the opportunities for advancement that could be open to him with the right preparation. His participation in one particular meeting was especially illuminating for him. At this meeting, the company’s management was enthusiastically brainstorming ways to increase profits, standing up to furiously scribble ideas on the windows and whiteboards, and expressing genuine excitement at the company’s prospects.

Watching his colleagues work, he pictured himself doing the same thing one day. Towards the end of his internship, Ivan even prepared a pitch for a product that his internship employer would potentially acquire.

Learn more about internship opportunities in Brazil.