Last fall, I decided to go to a coding boot-camp in San Francisco. I put a $1,500 deposit down, bought the plane ticket, and took a leave of absence for the following semester. Instead, I ended up staying. I was both working part-time and a full time student. So, what changed? There are a few reasons why, I’ll be sharing one of them here.
The week before final exams ended, in the fall of 2017, I got an e-mail from Steven Lu co-founder of Interseller. We met because I had invited him to speak at an event Rutgers Entrepreneurial Society hosts every semester, Rutgers Innovation and Startup Expedition.
I made sure to keep in touch after, which led to this e-mail:
Interseller is a product for sales and recruiting teams to prospect, conduct outreach, and track all outbound interactions in one place. They were a part of the second class at an early-stage startup accelerator Expa, founded by Garrett Camp co-founder of Uber.
At the time I was conflicted about whether to take the internship with Interseller or go to the coding boot-camp, since I had already committed to the latter. This led me to ask if I could work remotely and somehow manage to do both.
*quick note: there’s more to the story that I don’t feel comfortable sharing here. I say this to avoid the narrative fallacy.
To this Steve said:
It was incredibly selfless of Steve to say this and showed me a lot about his character and the type of culture he was building at Interseller. Instead of suggesting to take the internship he genuinely tried to help me make a decision I was comfortable with.
Here’s how I responded:
After this e-mail, I went in to speak to the team and got to know Jonathan Grana co-founder of Interseller and Steven Brady Head of Growth at Interseller. After getting to know the team better — I accepted.
As part of my acceptance, I was offered an online coding course by SuperHi, a company that was in the same accelerator cohort as Interseller at Expa. I was also able to re-enroll and attend school in the spring semester.
With anything I ever do I make a conscious effort to ask myself why? This helps me better understand my true intentions, which inevitably leads to better decision making.
Before deciding to go to the coding boot camp, I asked myself why?
As you read above, my answer was to learn the fundamentals of what it means to be a product manager, learn how to think logically, and to meet some incredible people in the process.
This past spring semester, I was both a full-time student taking 15 credits and a part-time startup employee working about 30hrs a week. Fortunately, I was able to work remotely for most of the week.
On my last day, John asked me what my biggest take away was. I told him that I learned how to become comfortable with uncertainty when solving technical problems. At the start of my internship, I’d be afraid of messing up and not being able to fix it. Towards the end, I was confident in my ability to figure it out even if I messed up.
I learned something new every week by facing and overcoming both personal and work challenges. I don’t like to think about growth in terms of personal or career. To me, they’re the same.
My role at Interseller — growth intern — consisted of everything from content creation for organic marketing, paid advertising, video editing, front-end web design, and working closely with the sales and product teams.
During the first half of the internship, I learned what a marketer’s real job is. It’s to educate a potential customer by communicating the value of a product or service. To do this, a marketer needs to have a deep understanding of the value of the product or service that she’s communicating. Not only is understanding the intricacies of the product important, but also working closely with the sales team to better understand the customer’s needs.
Creating and then selling a great product isn’t all there is to a company. There’s an often overlooked layer in-between — marketing. I learned that my job consisted of making it easier for the sales team to sell our product by attracting a customer who understood it’s functionality through our content.
Towards the end of the internship, I struggled with managing my time. For an entire semester, I had operated with a rigorous schedule. I realized in order to make time for myself and the people I loved I had to sacrifice the quality of my output both at work and school. I usually sacrificed one more than the other depending on which had a tighter deadline. This was definitely unsustainable but it taught me a lot about prioritization.
Despite all of the challenges I faced this past semester, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work and grow with the incredible team at Interseller. I did all that I set out to do and more. As for the coding boot camp, it’s a door I’m not closing.
For now, I moved to Seattle and am focused on building and learning.