Today’s the last day of my two year internship (which went by super-fast) & Chris asked me to write about my experience so that people considering internships could get a feel for what it’s like & whether this is the right internship for them.
I don’t consider myself to be the best writer in the world (especially when it comes to writing about myself) but here we go! (be easy on me 😉
TL;DR — my experience as an intern was awesome. I got to do a wide variety of things — from marketing to development to sales & learned a ton.
Best part? I never once had to get anyone coffee or spend weeks on end doing mindless work. They took it seriously & so did I. I’d highly recommend applying & being persistent because they get tons of applications.
A bit about me & my background
I started working here two weeks before my junior year of high school, before I even had my driving license! Immediately I realized the high level of importance WebMechanix placed on training and further educating their employees, and this significantly enhanced my experience & ability to learn.
I started off by working with our development team, a field which I thought I was familiar with already. I remember the first time I shadowed a meeting, I had about a thousand questions flying around in my head…
Wait, isn’t WordPress just a blog? What’s a CMS? What’s Git? What’s a CSS framework? What’s Grunt & Sass? What’s responsive design? What does QA mean? What’s a POST request?
I was overwhelmed by all this terminology discussed in less than half an hour, but I wanted to learn more, be able to contribute to these meetings with my own ideas. A year passed and I learned way more than I expected, including:
- WebMechanix design process
- Quality Assurance (QA-ing) process
- Designing a responsive website from images in Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator
- Google Tag Manager & Analytics implementation
- WordPress coding standards & best practices
I remember the first time someone asked me to create a landing page from a photoshop doc or “PSD” — I’m like, “Sure, no problem”
So I fired up my Notepad application & built it — a beautiful but unresponsive (i.e. sucks on mobile), static HTML page. I was proud of myself. But rudely awakened shortly thereafter. Of course, they were very friendly about it. But now I know much better.
Today if you ask me to do the same thing, I’m rocking Bootstrap (responsive CSS framework), skinning it up on WordPress, tracking it to the hills, making sure it loads lightning-fast & looks beautiful, no matter the device or browser.
Lesson: you think you know stuff… But really you don’t know sh**
[Having already had a good bit of knowledge & experience on the technical side, I wanted to learn the other parts of the business. I wasn’t sure how flexible they’d be with regard to basically switching my position, but I figured it was worth a shot.
So I asked if I could get more into the marketing side of things & to my delight, they were just like, “Yea, sure. We’ll start Monday” Sweet!
Lesson: don’t be afraid to ask for what you want because nobody can read your mind.
I began working with a bunch of our marketing specialists, familiarizing myself with Google Analytics, a tool we use pretty much daily to gather valuable information & relevant data to present to our clients.
I learned how to setup goals, conversions, event/behavior tracking, dashboards tailored specifically to a client’s needs.
I even had the chance to help out with our Google Analytics audit offers, explaining specific, data-driven, & unique website suggestions to different prospects.
Having already tried my luck w/ asking, I figured it was as good a time as ever to make my boldest request… I asked to be teamed up with sales. This time, I got a sort of blank stare. It was about 10 seconds but felt like a month.
See, the thing is… I was only 16 years old at the time. I had zero experience with sales & our clientele are like, 40+ executives. In other words, I was extremely underqualified for the position & I knew it, obviously. But this is an internship designed for learning & WebMechanix is clearly committed to teaching, so I thought, heck — why not try?
After a little convincing, they let me do it. Truth is, I was nervous as all heck. I remember the first few cold calls I made like it was yesterday. Basically just reading robotically off of a script. Hoping actually (ironically) in the back of my mind that nobody would pick up, be interested or ask any questions (b/c I probably couldn’t answer even the basic ones!)
But I got used to it & it got easier over time. Now, I don’t even have a script in front of me when I make these calls!
Lesson: you’re not a robot, so don’t sound like one.
The trick to these calls is to put every single prospect’s needs before your own — don’t keep pitching them something they don’t want. Be inquisitive — If you’re a good listener and truly understand, most executives are willing to open up & you’ll score that appointment in no time!
Wrapping it up
Whether you’re an intern or an employee, whether you’re in sales, development, or marketing, WebMechanix is a great place to work & I would highly recommend it to anyone. For the next four years, I’ll be studying Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, but I’ll be sure to come back and visit 🙂