I can’t believe I’m writing this post.
Not only does it mean that 10 weeks have flown by and summer is over, it means that things have officially come full circle for me.
I remember coming across the archives of Road Crew blogs from years past while in the middle of the recruitment process. At first, I figured I could pick up some insights and pointers to use in my interview, but the posts ended up doing much more than giving me advice — they got me excited.
Working in the music industry has afflicted me with a pretty healthy dose of skepticism, and I’m generally a firm believer that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. So naturally, reading post after post of interns sharing their unique experiences woven together by common threads of excellent company culture, celebration of diversity and individuality, and passion for music above all, I thought that there was just no way that Pandora could possibly live up to my expectations.
I have never been happier to be proven wrong.
How can I possibly describe what has been undoubtedly the best summer of my life? This has been a dream come true, and I haven’t had an ounce of chill since the moment that I was offered the position, much to the amusement of my recruiter. I cried when I got the job, so you can only imagine how it feels to say goodbye to it.
I practically skipped into the office on the first day, ready to get started at the internship of my dreams. The first thing I saw was my own desk with my name on it. The second thing I saw was a cold brew coffee tap 20 steps away from that desk. Both were very clear signs that this was about to be a great summer.
As a music curation and programming intern, I may have spent 95% of my day listening to today’s newest and hottest tracks, but besides the new Chainsmokers song, here are some of the most important things I heard this summer:
I heard every employee that I met introduce themselves, ask me about myself, and genuinely take an interest in what I had to say. I heard each one sincerely welcome me to Pandora and tell me how glad they were to have me.
I heard music everywhere, both as a soundtrack to the daily tasks at hand and as a score to the company as a whole, giving meaningful context to every role and reiterating the mission that fine-tunes everything we do.
I heard passion coming from the people, like the music blasting from the speakers anywhere you go in the office; motivating, fresh, ever-present, and never fails to pick you up and remind you why you’re here.
I heard my music programming projects being put out to clients, to the company, and to our millions of users instantly, without any micromanagement from my supervisors. A terrifying concept at first, but that hands-off mentality meant that my team trusted me and in turn, I gained so much confidence in my work, my instincts, and myself.
I heard the company respond in the wake of tragedy and injustice, both offering support and safe spaces to LGBTQ+ and employees of color internally and making strong statements on controversial topics externally, a move that spoke volumes about how Pandora truly values diversity and fostering an inclusive environment.
Most importantly, I heard my team hear me. Everyone I worked with went out of their way to let me know that I was welcomed and valued. They checked in with me and made sure I was enjoying the job — as if that was even a question. They celebrated my accomplishments and championed my work when I shared it with the rest of the company. They gave me credit where credit was due; multiple times, I would actually see an off-the- cuff comment or idea that I had come to fruition before my eyes, and my team always made sure that I got the kudos for it. Simply put, they treated me as an equal, and that had a huge impact on my experience.
Every company loves to boast about their corporate culture, but it’s so rare to see one that talks the talk and walks the walk. At Pandora, I was actually shocked to see how authentic it really was; our values are espoused in everything we do, individuality is encouraged and celebrated, and passion for the mission is truly the fuel to this beautiful machine.
I really can’t believe how fast this summer went. There’s something to be said for a job where the most stressful and upsetting thing that can happen is just realizing that you’re running out of time.
For anyone reading this, wondering if the crazy vision they have for the future is worth pursuing, this is your sign to go for it. I wholeheartedly believe that people do their best work and are at their happiest and most fulfilled when they’re working in a role that they’re suited to and with something they love. Once you figure out what’s at that intersection for you, do whatever it takes to navigate yourself there. In my case, it’s the music industry, and as unclear and nebulous as that path has been for me, absolutely nothing compares to the feeling of having it all pay off and having your dreams realized. As Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder and CEO, said to us, “It’s not an accident that passionate people succeed.” Do things that are meaningful to you and make you happy now, in the present; live by that rule and you’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Once again, writing this post means that life really has come full circle for me. Back when I was stalking the blogs and jamming out to some power tunes, getting myself pumped up like President Obama before the DNC (knees weak, arms spaghetti), I came across a quote that has stuck with me ever since: “If somebody offers you a seat on a rocket ship…just get on and buckle up.”
Pandora has been the greatest rocket ship imaginable, and I hope to have the chance to ride it all the way to the stars. Thanks for the amazing ride.
Oh, and one more thing.
To my 18-year- old self, wide awake and panicking at 3 a.m. in my freshman dorm room:
It’s all going to work out, I promise. And when it does, every single second of fear and uncertainty will have been worth it. Trust me.