An Intern's Perspective - What I Learned This Summer

Hi there, I'm Katherine.!

Some time in March, I was scrolling through Pinterest and I stumbled across a post by Project Memory. As a memory keeping enthusiast, I took a peek at the page and fell in love. One thing led to another, and before it felt real, I had landed a Growth Marketing Internship at Project Memory.

You always have these ideas of what an experience will be like before you start, but you usually end up learning some unexpected lessons along the way. So today, I wanted to share with you what I learned this summer, the expected and unexpected.

The Expected
1. Being hands-on in just about every facet of the company → Aside from the financial and legal obligations, I was involved in everything else. From learning about the product development process to learning about new resources like Mural, I got to be a part of all sorts of conversations even as an intern.

2. Balancing creativity and strategy → Coming into the internship, I knew that I would be able to take ownership of my own projects throughout the summer. Incorporating elements of creativity and strategy was important to me for every project that I worked on. For example with Pinterest, I created a Growth Strategy deck and kept track of the progress through hard analytics. At the same time, I was able to unleash my creative side by creating pins for our profile.

The Unexpected
1. Flexibility → I am a creature of habit and I thrive on having structure in my life, and while we did have scheduled weekly meetings on Mondays and Thursdays during the internship, there was a lot of flexibility in terms of scheduling work sessions and taking breaks. Addressing mental breaks is super important, and each person on the team was always able to be honest about needing a break. This kind of working environment helped to maximize our efficiency as a team!

2. Good things take time → When you list out a framework of how to develop and launch a product, it doesn’t sound that hard. However, once you realize what goes on behind-the-scenes, the process becomes much more complex. Especially when you work on a virtual team, it takes longer to perfect a physical product that everyone loves.

3. My favorite project → Each person on the team took on a customer research project during the summer, and my project ended up being my favorite thing I did all summer. I used hard data taken from hundreds of Etsy users to develop personas for Project Memory customers. Personas help us create new product ideas, strategize where and how to focus marketing efforts, and understand our buyers’ journeys.

4. How much I’ve come to value a good work/life balance → This was something that I learned throughout the summer as I worked with my team. They have 3+ years of experience on me, so hearing them talk about their jobs and lives has taught me a lot about what I value. Sammy and Aneri work in different industries (consulting and tech), and while I’m still unsure of what I want to do, getting to learn and ask questions about their work experiences has helped shape the values that I will bring into recruitment!

For anyone who is thinking about working at a small business or startup, I couldn’t speak more highly of my experience. It is a very different working environment compared to working at a big name company, and getting the opportunity to be hands-on in so many moving parts of a business is a special one.

I want to leave you with a quote that you may or may not have heard before, said by one of my favorite speakers of all time, Simon Sinek. He says that Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion. It was so important for me to find a summer opportunity that challenged and taught me, but more importantly would be one that I would genuinely enjoy. Chase what makes you feel alive—you pave your own way in this world:)

Thank you Sammy + Aneri for everything :)

xx, Katherine

by Katherine Yu

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