Brett Langstaff, of New Providence, New Jersey, a rising senior with a major in business information technology, recently returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts for a second internship at Akamai Technologies.
Langstaff rejoins the company’s product operations department this summer. He is gaining more access to data-focused projects and more responsibility because of his previous internship experience, his coursework at the Pamplin College of Business and experiential learning opportunities through the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech.
“I told my team at Akamai I would like to get some real world experience to complement what I am getting at Virginia Tech,” he said. “They have been really accommodating to help me grow and learn.”
Akamai is a content delivery network service provider, whose role is to manage internet content for businesses in ways that prohibit slow-loading pages, promote security, and prevent attacks and hacks — essentially making the web surfing experience run smoothly for the user. Akamai, the global leader in content delivery services, operates in more than 15 locations in the United States and dozens more worldwide.
Langstaff works with a cross-departmental analytics team to develop reporting tools used to monitor the success and performance of Akamai’s business operations.
He discovered the company through an Entrepreneur Trek organized by the university’s Innovate Living-Learning Community, of which Langstaff is a founding member. He and his peers reached out to and visited entrepreneurial alumni across the nation to gain access and exposure to innovative and startup companies.
It was during one of these Entrepreneur Treks with fellow Innovate students that Langstaff met Charley Dublin (accounting ’95), vice president at Akamai.
Langstaff applied to the Innovate residential program before arriving on campus in 2013 when the community was beginning to form. In the program’s first year, Langstaff and his peers set up the governance structure, developed a marketing strategy and crafted a long-term vision — transforming it from a blank slate into a close-knit community of innovators and entrepreneurs.
“The Innovate Living-Learning Community brings together transdiscliplinary students from all colleges at Virginia Tech to live, learn and practice entrepreneurship through experiential learning,” said Sean Collins, director of Innovate and a Pamplin faculty member.
Rather than solely emphasize student startups, Innovate focuses on instilling competencies core to entrepreneurship such as teamwork, leadership, identifying opportunities, problem solving, and analytics.
“Whether students go on to found a startup or join a progressive company like Akamai, these are broadly applicable 21st century life skills,” said Collins.
Langstaff recently completed a position as student president of Innovate. During his three years in the program, his travels have included Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., to network with alumni and business professionals.
“Without Innovate, I would have never learned about this company or met the right Hokie alumni to secure an internship at a company like Akamai,” Langstaff said.
He attributes the successes of his internships to the balance of textbook and classroom knowledge coupled with the practical skills and professional network he has gained through Innovate and the Apex Systems Center.
“I have been interested in innovation and entrepreneurship but did not have any experience,” Langstaff said, explaining his interest in joining Innovate as an incoming freshman.
“Being a part of a community coming into college was important to me. I did not think of it at the time, but it definitely sets you apart from the crowd.”
Langstaff is looking forward to his senior year when he will serve as a mentor to Innovate students and advise the student leadership team.
He said he feels more than adequately prepared for a career, specifically due to his accomplishments with Apex Systems Center and Innovate.
“Both organizations have helped me understand how to work, how to learn, how to build something,” he explained. “It has provided a view into many different types of companies and has helped me figure out what to major in, what my interests are, and much more.”
The Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech offers a wide variety of programs and opportunities to engage in all phases of the entrepreneurship and innovation process, and encourages alumni to interface with the next generation of Hokie entrepreneurs. Visit: ApexCIE.VT.edu for more information on programs and upcoming events.
Written by Courtney Cutright