Kaina’s family showed her the entrepreneurial spirit and inspired her at an early age, but she needed a special skillset to build the kind of success she dreamed of.
She developed those skills through her NFTE experience and had already launched her own business before she entered Babson College.
Now she’s pursuing her dreams powered by her determination, creativity, and networking skills.
She recently accepted an offer from a highly competitive internship program at Google.
The ambitious daughter of immigrant entrepreneurs, Kaina has always known what it means to work hard. Beginning at age 12, she worked in her grandparent’s Venezuelan restaurant on the weekends. At age 13 she started her own book review blog – teaching herself graphic design and coding as well as gaining a press pass to the biggest publishing conference in North America. At age 16 she enrolled in a NFTE Startup Summer program and, as she says, “with NFTE, everything finally started coming together. It changed my entire trajectory.”
It was as a NFTE student that Kaina drew on her love of books to launch One Page Closer, a nonprofit organization that provided fully stocked bookcases to children and teens in low-income communities across the Miami metro area. What began as an idea for a community service project expanded into a full-blown venture when Kaina made it her NFTE business project. Powered by what she learned in class and through engagement with NFTE business plan coaches and mentors, Kaina turned her idea into a reality. She even secured an award of $4,000 in seed capital when her pitch for One Page Closer took first place at a NFTE Startup Summer Investment Panel.
Her successes with NFTE helped Kaina through the challenges of the college admissions process and ultimately helped her win a four-year, full-tuition Diversity Leadership Scholarship ato Babson College. But Kaina soon realized that she didn’t have the same connections as many of her classmates. Instead of getting discouraged, she tapped her entrepreneurial mindset. “I cannot let lack of connections be a barrier to my success,” she told herself. Instead, she took the initiative to work three jobs every semester of college to pad her resume and she created her own opportunities through Kaly Media, a freelance marketing consulting business she launched. Through her freelance work she taught herself how to create websites. That not only gave her a steady income source but also enabled her to develop her portfolio, and network in the marketing and technology field.
All of her hard work, initiative, and creativity paid off. After years of networking and skill-building, Kaina recently accepted an Associate Product Marketing Manager internship at Google through the Building Opportunities for Leadership & Development Internship, a highly competitive program that exposes historically under-represented students to career opportunities in the technology field.
Kaina says, “when I was growing up it was always about the hustle, about finding ways to create something out of nothing. I was able to see firsthand how entrepreneurship helped elevate my family as they tried to rebuild their lives in a new country. That had a profound impact on me and my future goals. The early exposure to what I would later learn was the entrepreneurial mindset allowed me to develop the ambitious work ethic that drives me today.” And Kaina credits much of her success to her NFTE experience.“I love NFTE. I’m so appreciative of all they’ve done that I’ve worked for NFTE twice! I want to continue to give back to the NFTE community in the same way they’ve given to me.”
“With NFTE, everything finally started coming together. It changed my entire trajectory, propelling my professional career.” — Kaina Lisibach