40 Emails, 2 Tweets, and an Interview: How I Landed an Internship With @GaryVee
As I finished up the first day of my summer internship at the Vaynermedia New York City offices, I came to reflect on what an amazing opportunity I have been given. I want to share the story of how I got here:
It all started in 2011 when I was finishing up my freshman year at Purdue. I was working on a t-shirt company with one of my business partners at the time, Ethan Gromet. He sent me this link on Facebook. It was for Gary Vaynerchuk’s Keynote speech at the 2011 Inc 500 conference. Ethan (using words like “genius”, “visionary”, etc) was insisting I check this guy out. I opened the link, saw that the video was an hour long and thought alright sure… I will get to that later.
It wasn’t until about 4 months later, that I finally watched that video and from there I realized this guy Gary knew what he was talking about. After sitting through the entire hour long keynote, I was quick to join the other almost 1,000,000 people following him on Twitter. From there, I began applying Gary’s social media theories to the work I was doing with my first real and funded start up, Kyk Energy. We wrote hand written thank you notes to customers, engaged with everyone who reached out to us and met some incredible people, purely through our brand’s social media presence. Of course, it also helped drive up sales and supplement our practically non-existent marketing budget. Over the next year, I went through many ups and downs with Kyk Energy but those are topics for another post. Long story short, I was left in a position where I was looking for summer internships over the course of my Junior year at Purdue (as opposed to spending another summer focused solely on growing my own ventures).
One day, in mid October, I was on Twitter and Gary tweeted to his 1,000,000 followers asking if anyone in Lafayette, IN could do him a favor and pick up and ship a package for him. I saw the Tweet and thought, “Hey, I am in West Lafayette, IN and I already have some orders from Kyk Energy to ship out. I definitely could help out!” I hopped on my email and shot Gary a message introducing myself and offered my help (everyone who follows Gary on Twitter knows his email: Gary at VaynerMedia dot com).
I quickly received a response from Nate, Gary’s assistant at the time, with details. It was a simple favor all I had to do was pick up some Toys from a guy in Lafayette and ship them to the Vaynermedia offices in NYC. I bounced around a few emails between Gary, Nate, AJ (Gary’s brother) and a guy named Lee to cover all the logistics (the guys contact info, reimbursement, shipping address, etc.). Later that week, I picked up the package, took it to the post office on my usual trip and was done. I shot one final email to Gary, Nate, AJ and the guy named Lee to let everyone know that the package went out. Since I still was looking for internships, I decided to ask Gary if he had any thing available. I figured it was a long shot, but if you don’t ask, the answer is always “no”.
I never ended up getting a response from Gary to that email (Lee and AJ both let me know the package made it and thanked me for my help). I figured there was no openings available and being a busy entrepreneur myself, I understood that sometimes you can’t get back to everyone, it’s nothing personal.
Fast forward to one Saturday morning in January where I was laying in bed scrolling through my Twitter feed, slightly hungover from the night before at my fraternity (work hard, play hard), when I saw the following Tweet from Gary:
I immediately jumped out of bed, this was exactly the opportunity I was looking for. Since college, I spent both my previous summers working for myself and I never had a resume. I quickly whipped one up and sent it over. Once again, weeks went by with no response. I joked with my roommate how awesome it would be if I got the gig but we were always a little dubious. I figured it was still a long shot so like any good business person I didn’t stop exploring other opportunities. I even locked in an internship with a buddy of mine at his agency.
Then one day, I was sitting in my circuits class when my phone buzzed and it was Nate again, thanking me for my application and asking some logistical questions that he was using to filter out ineligible applicants. I quickly answered, in the middle of class, on my phone. Over the next 2 months, me and Nate bounced back a ton of emails. He would ask some more questions, I’d answer, wait for a response and then follow up every week or so. At the end of the whole process, after most of my friends already lined up summer jobs and as I was coming close to when I would have to make final summer decisions, I received the following email:
Through this whole process, we exchanged 40 emails, a few tweets and a Skype interview but in the end it all worked out. I got the gig of a life time for a college student entrepreneur and am now going to be spending the next 11 weeks in NYC hustling, learning, and making valuable connections. I am even getting paid a little bit too.
I didn’t write this post so that I could brag about my internship. I told this story because I want to show everyone that some things, no matter how far out of reach they seem, are obtainable. All it takes is a little persistence, a willingness to jump on opportunity and the courage to ask. I hope after reading this, I have inspired some of you to aim just a little higher and push yourself a little further. For all you know, next summer you could be staring an opportunity in the face that you only dreamt of one morning, while sitting in bed, slightly hungover.
Also, my summer gig happens to focus around Gary’s new book which details many of the social media strategies underlining this story. If you want to learn more about how you can use social media to open up new opportunities, I recommend you check it out. It is launching in November.
Originally published at andrewlinfoot.com on May 29th 2013.