Meet Brooke Reaves, this Summer’s Flo Recruit Spotlight Intern and recipient of $500! Brooke is a Business Honors, Plan II, and Government Major in the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Brooke spent her summer in Austin and San Antonio as a Product Development & Research Intern at TaskUs, a global outsourcing and customer experience company headquartered in Santa Monica, California.
What made you want to join the company you interned at?
When I was scrolling through different LinkedIn applications for summer internships, I noticed that the role for a research and product development intern at TaskUs had “BE RIDICULOUS” in all bold in the headline. This caught my attention for being a somewhat odd and certainly unconventional tagline. I looked deeper into the application, and one of the questions had this same focus, asking me to provide a narrative of a time I had “been ridiculous” for one of my friends. I appreciated the unique approach to gauging how individuals can self-assess their fit with a firm (being ridiculously good is TaskUs’ specialty and strategy), specifically regarding a trait not commonly desired or gauged in job applications. My interest was definitely piqued! I quickly did more research on TaskUs and was blown away by their high growth outlook, recent investment from Blackstone, and focus on the frontline first, ultimately contributing to a ridiculously good culture.
What do you enjoy most about the city you work in?
I interned in both Austin and San Antonio. Though I was based in Austin, I traveled about once a week to our sites in San Antonio and New Braunfels. Though I do go to school in Austin, I never really have enough time to take in the city in depth during the semester. Over the summer, I was able to go on a ton of hikes and appreciate more nature, not to mention enjoy the iconic Blues on the Green, which is an Austin summer music series that takes place at a huge city park. In particular, I loved the bustle of working downtown and specifically enjoyed working in the WeWork which had a wonderful hustle and grind culture. I also enjoyed regularly commuting to our other sites because I was able to work directly with our frontline employees, see how things work across different TaskUs departments from FP&A to wellness to client services, and have a lot of freedom in the vast array of opportunities offered by my day-to-day job.
What was your most important takeaway from your internship?
One lesson that I still think a lot about is how to build a brand and culture and then deliver on it while maintaining a focus on exponential growth as a firm. I saw firsthand how “being ridiculous” isn’t just a tagline for the executives at TaskUs, it is something that they deliver on each and every day for their employees. Before my internship, I viewed branding and corporate culture as addendums to the vital necessities of what makes up a firm. Now, I view these two aspects as not only essential but cornerstones — the first focus when building a company, rather than an afterthought. More than that, it is absolutely necessary to include strategy and execution into branding and culture plans to make them concrete and tangible aspects of the company, rather than vague and unfulfilled generic promises. When it comes to building my first company — which I am doing right now — the conversations that I had during the course of my internship on this topic were invaluable in informing my perspective on how to make brand and culture positive differentiators in a super competitive landscape and how to incorporate them cohesively into the solution any company focuses on providing.
What extracurricular activities do you participate in at your university?
I am the founder and editor in chief of UT’s only nonpartisan political review, The Texas Orator, which publishes daily online during the semester and then publishes a book of essays each May. It’s an organization dedicated to thoughtful and provocative journalism from a range of viewpoints and perspectives.
I also am the co-founder and Director of Talent for BreadwinnHER, which is UT’s first female speaker series focused on featuring Austin women and professors for roundtable discussions who are uber-successful in their respective fields and industries and doing amazing things.
I founded and am the 2019–2020 co-studio lead (for Design for America, an organization that aims to use small semesterly projects to make tangible social impact on campus and in our Austin community.
I also volunteer two times a week with KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program charter school) Volunteering. Furthermore, I am a Jefferson Scholar peer mentor and a diehard Gryffindor. I also joined a dodgeball team this semester.
Describe your dream job and how your internship helped you get one step closer to it.
I want to be an entrepreneur, without a doubt. Whether this means founding a traditional startup or working in an innovation-focused role in an indirect way, I want to focus my life’s work on identifying problems, collaborating with teams to brainstorm and come up with solutions, and iterating until we have a viable prototype. Though this kind of job could take many forms, I really want to work in a role that incorporates the innovative process to make positive change for firms and the world. In particular, my hope is to pursue a career in social entrepreneurship, because I want to use this kind of innovation to make the world a better place.
My internship cultivated these goals by providing me the opportunity to shadow and learn from people in different departments across the company, giving me the ability to learn from their strengths on how to build, grow, and run a successful company. I had a handful of conversations about startups, growth, and how to be successful with my boss, the Client Services director under the CCO, and the CEO. These discussions informed me on a range of topics from how to build a brand, to how to focus on and sustain culture, to how to grow with manageable costs. The diversity this education offered me has already been invaluable when applied to my own startup.
Do you have any words of advice for the next intern in this role?
Take advantage of EVERY opportunity! TaskUs is unique among firms in that I was offered an insane amount of freedom, responsibility, and opportunities to do new things outside of my job description. If I had an idea for something I wanted to do, all I had to do was ask. For example, I saw that a particularly interesting potential client was going to do a site visit the following week, so I asked my boss if I could just sit in on the meeting and he agreed. My boss, Sean, also let me sit in on a three-day executive leadership and planning workshop with his team of client services directors from around the company, which was the coolest experience ever. Ultimately, I wouldn’t have been able to do half as much as I did if I wasn’t brave enough to reach out and take a risk for what I wanted to do. I had the unique opportunity to dream about what I could do with my limited time at this awesome firm and make my internship what I wanted it to be.