University at Buffalo student Oscar Xu isn’t your average intern. Originally from China, he began his college career at Rice University before transferring to UB. He quickly developed a passion for entrepreneurship as the coordinator of OwlSpark, the university’s on-campus, student-led accelerator for startups. When the engineers who would eventually become his fellow co-founders introduced their project idea to him, Oscar knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t miss.
Today, Oscar is the co-founder of DaStrong Corp., a tech start-up company that focuses on heat dissipation for electronic devices. DaStrong Corp. is part of the Start-Up NY program and operates out of the 43North incubator facility on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. In 2014, they not only won third place in the Rice Business Plan Competition, but also won the second-place prize of $500,000 in the 43North Business Plan Competition. In partnership with UB faculty, the company’s team is conducting further research while applying for patents of their core technologies and negotiating contracts with major companies. These are signs of the innovation and economic impact that companies aligned with START-UP NY can bring to New York State.
Meanwhile, Oscar is still a student, working as an intern at DaStrong Corp. while attending classes at the University at Buffalo. How does he do it? Oscar strategically planned his course schedule, attending classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and working for the company during his free time the rest of the week. This isn’t Oscar’s first internship – he has also interned for a logistics company, an engineering company, a consulting firm and a private equity firm. His experiences have provided him with a large network of mentors and advisors from which to seek help and guidance. “All of my connections cost time to maintain,” Oscar says, which is why he makes an effort to keep in touch with all of his contacts in his minimal free time.
A typical day as an intern for Oscar begins at 6:30 AM when he wakes up, gets ready for work, and commutes to the incubator. Over the course of the day, his responsibilities include administrative functions, engineering testing, business negotiation and research development. The day might not even end until late at night, after international conference calls with his Taiwan-based business partners or clients in Asia.
When asked what advice he has for students, Oscar says: “Send out as many resumes as possible – but tailor each for different employers. Job-hunting is a cumulative effort and it snowballs really well. Once I got the first internship in my freshman summer, it was easier for me to land the second, and the third for my sophomore summer.”
“Also,” Oscar emphasizes, “Don’t be afraid of rejection. You just need one offer to have a meaningful learning experience.”
As for Oscar’s plans after graduation? “If the company develops well and finally gets on the right track, this will be my life after graduation. If it doesn’t, I think I will reflect upon the experience and go over it again. Entrepreneurial life is addictive.”
DaStrong Corp is hiring Masters/PhD students to build aerodynamic models and material fatigue models. If you are interested in joining the project, please contact Oscar Xu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Serah was a social media intern in the SUNY Office of New Media, having graduated from the University at Albany with Business Administration degree with concentrations in marketing and finance and minors in economics and communications.