Coming into my first internship in the city, I did not know what was in store for me. When my friends asked me what I was doing this summer I would respond, “I have an internship in the city for a small startup tech company”. The majority of people would follow with, “Wow, that’s so cool! You’re so lucky. That will look so good on your college applications”. The real reason was not that I wanted it for my college applications, rather I wanted to gain a real working experience and see what the technology world offered.
Last summer I worked at a small amusement park and I loved my job, but I knew that Packet would expose me to a different working field and it would let me see why the computer industry is so booming and ever changing. I was not sure what career path I wanted to go into when I first started this internship, but thanks to this internship I was able to see what I really enjoyed working on and what I would try to avoid in the future.
As a marketing and sales intern, I was able to not only help Packet but also discover the time and dedication required for this field and the always changing marketing techniques. I walked in every day with a new job at hand and would complete it in one day, or for long term assignments it would have to span over a couple weeks. Some tasks included researching future partnerships or web monitoring and analytic companies.
Overall, my favorite task was managing the Packet Twitter, @packethost. Throughout the month of July, I went through the Twitter account and strategically followed accounts and also unfollowed Twitter users that were not very active. I would use keywords such as docker, containers, DevOps etc., to help me find future Packet customers. Even though looking up people might sound like an easy task, it was quite tedious. There are over 230 million Twitter users and I needed to find the most relevant users for Packet.
Packet’s goal was to follow 3,000-4,000 users, but unfortunately we were capped out at 2,000. Since we were capped out, we were unable to follow large companies that could potentially become partners, so then we had to unfollow inactive users to make space for other users. Luckily our follower count is also increasing on a daily basis, so soon we will not be capped at following only 2,000 users!
With the diversity of tasks I was assigned, I developed a variety of skills. I learned how to become an independent worker and discipline myself to complete a task in an allotted amount of time. During my first couple days I was nervous to ask for help or pose a question because it looked like everyone was busy, but I learned to ask because it was better than staring at a computer monitor for an hour not knowing what to do. What I also learned was despite the fact not everyone is a coder or developer, everyone has an important role and without one person the team would not be able to function.
When people would ask me what I do, I would explain what I do on Twitter in addition I would explain how I research potential partnerships. Even though this might not be an immediate necessity, my projects are long term concerns that will benefit the company in the near future.
In school, teachers assign projects to complete over a set amount of time and the project is outlined step by step, but here everything is individualized. You are given an assignment and assumed you know how to accomplish it. I learned how to develop my own way of completing a task and I also learned that I can not always rely on others to do something for me, rather I have to find a solution myself. That was one major adjustment I had to become accustomed to. In addition, I had to research key terms and companies on my own time before I talked to others because it was assumed that I already knew background information.
Despite the fact that people wore headphones and looked like they were lost inside of their computers, everyone was working on different parts of Packet and the online chat room was always in use. I remember on my first day in the office I thought it was freaky how quiet everyone was because all you heard were keyboards and mouses clicking away and no one was talking, instead chatting online. When I did end up talking to people, it was cool to see how educated and passionate everyone was about what they did and how responsive they were. I also appreciated how no one thought of me as “that high school student who needed busy work”. Instead I was assigned important tasks.
After talking with Zac (the CEO - a graduate of the Juilliard School, of all things a double bass player), he told me that communication is key for Packet. Packet spans across three continents, but being in touch with one another allows everyone to stay updated and organized. You do not have to be a computer nerd to work at Packet, rather you need to be unique and talented in what you do. I would not call myself an expert when it comes to computers or the internet, let alone hosting infrastructure, but I would say that Packet has allowed me to understand the requirements and dedication all team members must put in for Packet to become a successful company.
I am grateful for this internship and am glad I was able to accomplish my original goal of learning how a startup company works and also gaining skills that will help me in the future no matter what career I go into.