Staying Ahead of the Curve: Five Tools You Should Not Ignore as an Intern
Written by Customer Engagement Intern: Jenny Matusova
Let’s admit this to ourselves right now: finding an internship is TOUGH. Not only is the search tough, but building a resume and even the act of joining LinkedIn induces a sense of anxiety in most of us. Often times you’re applying for a position that hundreds of other people have already applied for, and it can feel overwhelming to try to make yourself sound more unique and valuable to a company. The truth is there is no easy answer as to how you can achieve this, and different people will give you different advice. That’s why I’m not really here to give you advice. Instead, in this article I highlight the important tools I’ve learned from my internship at AtkCo, Inc. to help organize your life, Agile-style, and build a powerful resume.
Trello. This is the most valuable application I use during my internship, and definitely the most applicable to my life as a student. You start with a board, and continuously add cards to specific lists that you create to seamlessly manage projects and divide tasks into small yet doable chunks. You can even assign cards to certain team members you’ve allowed onto your board. Trello is used extensively at AtkCo and I’ve even begun to use it for my personal life. All of my scattered thoughts and to-dos now live in one tidy space.
Slack. Slack is a platform for messaging, kind of like WhatsApp or Facebook messenger. Channels are created to organize a company’s team members into groups. This allows for specific people to communicate amongst each other without disturbing the rest of the company’s members. It’s a powerful tool for collaboration, and I can see myself using it for larger-scale group projects and clubs at school. Because Agile methodologies involve working on specific tasks week by week, having a structured platform like Slack allows us to discuss progress with ease. You can also shout people out, attach files, and create a customized profile to help others get to know you. Slack has quickly become one of the leading applications for communication, and I have no doubt that I will be using it in jobs to come.
Google Hangouts. An emerging tech trend amongst small and large businesses is the idea of working remotely. More and more people are starting to work from home, which means commuter expenses (gas, public transit fare, etc.) are saved. Likewise, time spent commuting is significantly reduced. Because of this, companies like AtkCo now use video-chatting platforms such as Google Hangouts to hold conferences. Although it’s one of the more simple tools to use, being familiar with its interface will prepare you for any career. It can feel a little daunting at first to speak through a web camera, so having the skill to present with poise is necessary.
Canva. With social media apps like Instagram gaining more and more traction, it’s extremely important to learn how to market yourself (and your brand!) more effectively and aesthetically. Because our internship at AtkCo centers around marketing, customer engagement, and product management, Canva has proven to be a very useful tool to help design infographics and flyers that are on-brand. Learning how to navigate Canva and design informative media is a skill that will be applicable in any job market — even in school. I wish I had known about Canva while I was doing all of those group projects in undergrad.
Squarespace. AtkCo’s website uses Squarespace and I’m convinced many other companies do as well, considering how easy it is to traverse the format. Squarespace is a website builder, and I’m sure you’ve heard about it in the multitude of advertisements they sponsor online. I think because of this, my first impression of Squarespace was gimmicky, but using it during my internship at AtkCo has my opened my eyes to its value. Almost every company these days has a website, but I’ve noticed that most of them need updates to stay on-trend and user-friendly. You will be an extremely valuable asset on any team if you take the time to get to know Squarespace and how to improve and design websites.
I know I’ve mentioned Agile a few times now… So you’re probably wondering, what exactly is Agile? Here’s the low-down: Agile was initially a group of software development methodologies, but it quickly crept into other fields such as IT and marketing, proving its usefulness. Its principles are primarily based on refining collaborative spaces and improving teamwork, and both of those go hand-in-hand to promote efficiency and structure within a company. The most important aspect of Agile is its enforcement of dividing tasks into short phases of work to frequently reassess and reevaluate the larger project at hand. As a result, companies using Agile development maintain sustained productivity levels, expand their self-organizational skills, and achieve attainable goals that ultimately help propel big projects forward.
After learning about AtkCo, a company founded by Chicago native Shayna Atkins, I took the leap into the Agile ecosystem by applying online for an internship. What resonated with me about AtkCo was not only their human-centered approach to learning, but the fact that it is run by a diverse group of women — a powerhouse team with incredible strength and a passion to propel future-thinking businesses.
Although my internship is not over, the past four weeks have flown by quicker than I imagined. I have already learned so many tools along the way, and I’m confident that they will stay useful in my life. Living in a world that revolves almost completely around the internet, knowing how to use these tools is crucial and impressive to add onto any LinkedIn profile or resume.