After finishing my first year at Princeton University, I was glad to move back to Southern California for the summer. The weather was definitely a big incentive, and I was looking forward to working at Santa Monica based startup Retention Science, where I had managed to land a summer internship.
Both the importance and value of internships is fast becoming a widely accepted fact for college undergraduates. According to the Wall Street Journal article ‘Internships are Increasingly the Route to Winning a Job,’ post-graduation vocational prospects largely hinge on the real-world experiences students have managed to garner during their time at school. As I just finished my freshman year, I was hardly looking into potential jobs – yet I was definitely hoping to explore and gain a better understanding of my own interests.
As an economics major, I know I eventually want to enter the business sector, so working at a growing startup helped me experience all of the facets involved in running a company. I got to interact on a daily basis with a variety of team members, from the CEO, VP of Sales to the Marketing Director, and my duties were equally as diverse as the people I worked with. One day, I would be helping with competitive advantage analysis campaigns, and the next, I would work with social media platforms and public relations outlets.
By completing such varied tasks, I ended up gathering a plethora of useful skills I can bring both into my personal life and future career. Some were highly specific – like gaining firsthand knowledge of marketing and sales resources (such as Salesforce) and performing inbound and outbound lead generation and qualification. Others tasks were much broader and less tangible – which in turn improved my organizational, managerial, and communication abilities. I was able to learn about the entire business process from an initial sales call to final legal closure. I observed the synergy between the engineering, data science, sales, and marketing teams, and how that allowed the company to operate smoothly and productively.
My biggest takeaway of the internship was the chance to observe the growth of one of the premier tech companies in LA. In the ten weeks I was at Retention Science, I saw them undergo a great deal of development such as adjusting to a new office space, hiring several new team members, and raising an additional $7 million in series A funding.
Most of all, the experience served as an opportunity to experience a culture that was supportive, challenging, nurturing and engaging. It was a chance to work at a company where my contributions, however small, made a tangible and visible impact. For my part, I strove to perform my tasks to the best of my ability, and for their part, the Retention Science team offered constructive feedback about work, startups, business, tech, and life in general.
So on the surface, I spent my internship performing sales and market analysis for a fast-growing startup company. More broadly, I learned about the work involved in running a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tech business. Both are certainly true assessments of my time at Retention Science. However in the end, I feel that I truly spent my summer being taken in by a new family, at an office-turned-home, gaining a holistic education in all things business and life.