While most college students are going to end up working their summers for the parks and recreation department as an assistant manager, for the local pool as a lifeguard, or in the best scenario for a company as an intern in their field of study; few will get the opportunity to lead a department, determine company strategy, or work on their own schedule. The one opportunity you have to make a real difference for an organization is surprisingly an option that few students apply for, an internship with a startup company.
This blog will cover the intern experience of one of Pablow Inc.‘s most recent hires, Dylan DeClerck, who was hired to lead the company’s marketing efforts this spring and has continued to work for the company this summer. Among the projects Dylan has helped lead for the company include developing and implementing a content strategy, developing and using sales materials to contact prospective business partners, creating new processes for marketing efforts, implementing a CRM system, directing the work of freelancers, and revamping social media strategies.
“This spring I had an excellent experience working for Pablow Inc. and CEO, Steve Sherlock, on all of our marketing efforts. What I enjoyed most about my internship was 1) the flexibility of my work schedule, 2) the autonomy of my work tasks, and 3) importance of my efforts on the direction of the company.
During my internship this past semester I was taking a full course load of 18 credits and traveling eight hours every weekend to play professional ultimate frisbee, a big passion of mine. Luckily, Steve gave me the flexibility to set my own schedule and work hours as long as it was approximately 10-15 hours per week. After some discussion, we decided that it would work best in my schedule if I worked 6-7 hours per week in the office each Tuesday, and the rest of the work time I could simply report every two weeks so Steve could input it into the payroll system.
Besides a flexible weekly schedule, Steve was incredibly accommodating with my full academic schedule. In fact, the week before finals I worked just a few hours and the week of finals I didn’t work at all so I could focus on my tests and projects. While not all startup companies may be as accommodating as Pablow, I think that a majority of small companies understand the importance of certain personal commitments and are more than accommodating when it comes to flexible working arrangements.
In addition to flexibility, I enjoyed the autonomy that working for a small company provided. In a small company, not only is it unrealistic for managers to micromanage all of the intern’s tasks, it’s detrimental to the organization as a whole because work never gets done!
An example of an autonomous project was when I developed and used sales materials to contact prospective business partners. At the beginning Steve and I sat down to cover our objectives for the project and potential approaches to achieve our goals, but after a short time of planning and introduction the rest of the project was mine to handle. First I began writing our sales materials using information I had learned in sales classes and based on my research of the vacation rental industry. After I had written the script I ran it by Steve and laid out our approach to contact travel system providers and retailers. Once I had his approval, I spent two weeks reaching out to partners using our sales and marketing materials, and successfully brought on new business partners. The best feedback I received from Steve that made my efforts feel worthwhile was that my work had “helped prove that this business concept could be a reality.”
Looking at how much autonomy I was given says a lot about the trust Steve had in my abilities to market his product to our target market, and because of the internship’s structure I can say that I successfully completed a lot of important projects for the organization.
I alluded to this in the previous section, but working for Pablow gave me the chance to work on some incredibly important work. Did it create some pressure that I needed to perform at a high level? Sure it did, but Steve made sure the pressure was always manageable and kept my projects moving in the right direction.
I felt the most pressure within the first couple of weeks of my internship when I was asked to essentially lay out the marketing direction and strategy for the entire company. This challenged me to think outside of the box and use my limited experience to develop the best plan of attack for the company.
At the end of my internship I will be able to say I’ve done so many great things for this organization, and that it was an experience well worth my time. Are there challenges of working for a small company? Yes, of course there are, but I wouldn’t give up this experience to work for any other company or any other CEO this spring.”