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What a Winternship at Haven Life is really like

This season’s team reveals how they put the “win” back in “Wintern”

You know what winter is. You know what an internship is. So chances are, you have a pretty good guess as to what a Winternship is.

Well, you’re half right.

Yes, a Winternship is an internship that takes place in winter. But what makes a Winternship special — what makes it earn that capital “W” — is that it’s part of a program from Break Through Tech, an organization that helps people from underrepresented groups, including women and first-generation college students, get a foothold in tech. It turns out that while 58% of all college degrees are awarded to women, less than 2% of those women study computer science and related disciplines. Programs like this one help correct that imbalance.

Haven Life is proud to have partnered with Break Through Tech for a third consecutive winter, bringing the same commitment to mentorship and fellowship that we brought to non-pandemic-era Winterns. That’s not a coincidence — this winter, our interns’ mentor was Zack Shinkar, underwriting dev, and a former intern himself. With his guidance, the team created a new platform intended to help us pre-onboard employees before they start, which we hope to put into use in the near future.

But don’t take our word for it. Before this season’s interns returned to CUNY, we solicited their candid feedback in a series of exit interviews. Their thoughts were helpful to us in terms of how to make this program the best it can be — it turns out, even superstar interns appreciate talking about imposter syndrome — and we thought they would be helpful for anyone considering a tech internship in general or insurtech specifically. Or anyone who just wants to find out why one intern says Haven Life is like a fruitcake. (Interested in having a similar experience? Of course you are. Learn more about future opportunities, including upcoming internships, right here.)

In this article:

Cherry He

What was your favorite part of the internship?

I liked the session we had on imposter syndrome. This was the first time I’ve heard about the term, but it’s something I felt before. No one has ever talked about that with me.

What do you think about the general guidance we’ve given, aside from your specific work?

I really liked having a buddy — we talked about more than just our project. She gave me advice on classes I should be taking in school and how I can get into her position one day. She helped me consider what I want to be in the future, and also showed me that I have a lot of options ahead, like grad school.

Also, I used to not like working in groups — the results in school projects have not been the best. My experience as a developer here has been different. It showed me that working in groups can be good, and it’s really necessary to work this way to work as a developer. This experience has changed my perspective on how a software developer works.

What’s been your favorite Haven Life value?

We Matter to Each Other. Throughout my time at Haven Life, I felt that value very closely in our team. The work and effort that we put in matters to the company. How we treat each other matters. I see the company interact with each employee with respect. Everyone matters here.

Nicole Juarez

What was your favorite part of the internship?

Definitely working on our project! I also really enjoyed the lunch-and-learns, specifically the ones on imposter syndrome and being a woman in tech. I thought these were helpful in preparing us for the realities of starting careers in technology.

What are one or two words you would use to describe Haven Life?

Fun and comforting. You get to be yourself around most individuals here.

What was your favorite Haven Life value?

We matter to each other. A lot of organizations overlook their employees, but at Haven Life I could see that everything is a team effort to move things forward. Everyone tries to get to know each other to build a better team environment.

Haseeb Khan

How would you describe Haven Life’s culture?

Warm and welcoming. No one saw us as just interns who would leave in a few weeks. They invested time in us and explained things in depth. Haven Life is a small organization — there’s a lot of things you could do based on what you’re interested in since there’s not a lot of bureaucracy.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

I really liked meeting my buddy! Having a buddy helped ease my nerves of starting an internship. We would catch up every week, and I really enjoyed the advice I got from talking to him.

How would you describe Haven Life in one or two words?

Fruitcake. Everyone in Haven Life is unique. There is the Haven Life wrapping that brings everyone together, but everyone is also an individual — the pieces of the fruitcake. Even though everyone was doing something similar, they had their own speciality or something unique about them, which makes them stand out.

“No one saw us as just interns who would leave in a few weeks. They invested time in us.”

—Haseeb Khan, Wintern

Nowshin Sayara

How would you describe Haven Life’s culture?

Collaborative, very kind and helpful. Everyone is there for you, if you need help or just want to talk.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

I loved working with my team. Everyone was great and helpful. Even though it was virtual, we were able to connect and it felt like a group. I have friends interning elsewhere who felt like they didn’t get to connect with their groups in the same way that I did.

What did you think of your team lead’s communication style, and the frequency or infrastructure of the check-in process?

The daily stand ups and stand downs were helpful. There were times when my team and I stayed on one call for hours to make us feel like we were sitting with each other. This also made the work we were doing feel like a team effort — I felt connected to my team.

Taz Zahid

How would you describe Haven Life’s culture?

The culture went beyond my expectations. I interned at a large international company before — I felt that the culture there was super-corporate and serious. I had anxiety going into this internship, because in the past I’ve had to really put my best foot forward. In addition, I was nervous because things were remote. But I found the culture here to be super easy going and really welcoming. I thought the work environment here was also more collaborative than it was at my other internship.

I was also really worried about going into the adult world. I thought working here would be boring, but Haven Life really put the wellbeing of employees here first. I did not expect a tech company to react the way Haven Life did during the storming of the Capitol. When we got an email from the CEO acknowledging what happened, I thought it showed attentiveness to the wellbeing of people here that I didn’t expect.

Institutions that I’ve been part of have more often cared most about their product and goal. But I saw that Haven Life puts people first.

What’s one thing you would change about the internship?

Make it longer! I really mean it when I say that I like the vibe of the company, and I wish I could have spent more time here!

What was your favorite Haven Life value?

I really liked Haven Life’s value of building things that matter. Especially in STEM/technology, people are so focused on making things for the sake of making them. I feel that this value hits on a more human aspect when it comes to building something. It ensures that you don’t just get lost in the flow of working. You get to look at the bigger picture of how what you’re making is impacting people. I like that!

Any advice for folks who may be considering an internship at Haven Life?

Don’t stop asking questions. Stay curious. Have fun. Don’t be afraid to communicate.

We’re looking for innovative, collaborative, and creative people to join our team. Sound like someone you know?

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About Jaime Ballesteros

Jaime Ballesteros joined Haven Life's recruiting team in December 2020. In his work, he is focused on running Haven Life's early talent programs as well as hiring for full-time roles across the company. Jaime began his career as a high school chemistry teacher. His passion for improving the outcomes of young folks and increasing their access to opportunities has led him into campus and diversity recruiting across financial services and technology.

Read more by Jaime Ballesteros

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit:

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