Many college students share the same opinions toward their summer roles: an intern is a learner, an observer, a sponge. While these are all positive takeaways from a summer gig, there are many more benefits that can come with being an intern. However, the common collective believes in the stereotypes of coffee-getting and herds of interns with little substantial work to share among the litter.
It isn’t our fault, though, as we see many of our friends and older relatives go through summers like these, drifting through the waters of a corporate office, making little waves because we aren’t given a chance to make a real impact. Many offices hold back from giving their interns poignant projects, perhaps out of a fear of lack of experience, reminiscent of how overprotective parents will keep their hands on their child as they learn to walk, in fear of seeing them fall. But if the hands are always there to catch them, the child is learning to walk with a crutch. Internships have become more about training rather than tangible experience. Training geared towards a potential return offer so that the real work can begin after graduation.
At Join, internships are different. I had the pleasure to work as a marketing intern for Join this past summer, alongside a great team. Among my coworkers there was one other intern, a software engineer with a background in architectural education as well. While the two of us had very different projects to work on, we interacted a lot, exchanging stories of the tasks we had been assigned. This was true for every member of the team. As a small, agile startup, Join offered me a chance to communicate and collaborate with all my coworkers. I constantly heard about the projects others were working on, giving me a chance to see how the product continues to be developed from an engineering perspective. While this isn’t my background, learning about the engineers’ work allowed me to produce better work myself. At the typical internship, this cross-company collaboration isn’t always present, which is unfortunate because it adds a lot to a summer experience.
Two things really stood out to me during my summer that made me love my role at Join. The first was the diversity in my projects, offering me a great mix of both analytical and creative tasks, and the second was the substantial impact that I was able to have on Join.
The day in the life of an intern at Join is never the same. I had a wealth of activities and assignments that I tackled throughout the summer, ranging from creating marketing videos, to organizing users’ reviews of the product, to conducting research on potential clients within specific regional markets. Week to week I had to use different sets of skills to produce successful and satisfying work. One of my first projects was creating a marketing campaign for a new feature that the engineers had developed for the product, another example of the necessity of cross-company collaboration. I drafted email blasts creating graphics to demonstrate the use of this new feature. One of my last projects was giving the first half of a sales pitch. I used to sit in on sales calls with the Co-Founder responsible for business development to take notes. For one of the last of these, he asked me to start off the presentation. The diversity in my assignments led me to learn a great deal in a relatively short seven-and-a-half weeks. I was also far from bored, since each day my work kept me on my toes, while many of my friends sat in desks all day trying to look busy.
What meant a lot to me in my time with Join was the significance I held. I was never just another cog in the machine, or peg on the wheel. While still just an intern, I was able to produce work that wasn’t just helpful for Join, but necessary. I wrote sections of the help doc, informing clients of the features and uses of the product; I conducted market research on new client sign-ins and analyzed the priority level of approach to the companies they worked for.
Not many interns can claim that they added to the company they worked for in a summer. The marketing videos I wrote, story-boarded, and edited will be sent to potential clients and serve as introductions to Join. Interns normally learn a lot, and I did, but I can also say that I gave a lot. My impact on Join will last longer than my short several-week stint with the company. Apart from the important training and learning I did, I gained valuable experience by being trusted with important work. And I never had to get anyone their coffee.