First of all, I’d like to thank Aditya for writing this week’s article! Second, this post has lessons that permeate every single experience you will have. So read the post very carefully.
Hello readers! My name is Aditya Nidmarti and I am a rising junior at Northwestern University majoring in economics and minoring in business and entrepreneurship. I come from a city called Pune in the western part of India.
I am currently interning at SpotHero as a business strategy intern. It would be important to mention that I also interned at SpotHero last summer albeit as a sales operations intern. For those who don’t know, SpotHero is a startup (not so much now) which provides on demand parking in over 50 cities in the US. You pull out your phone, open the app and reserve parking – it is that simple. As a business strategy intern, my job is to grow and scale SpotHero’s B2B platform. In doing this, my daily activities include forecasting gross merchandise value, building out product rollout roadmaps, and analyzing the business using our internal data. After spending two summers at SpotHero, here are the few things I have learned and incorporated into my work ethic. I have more or less worked merely on the business side of startups so take my advice with a grain of salt:
Provide numbers and contextualize
The world is moving fast and competition is cut throat. Nearly every business has a close competitor which is doing more or less the same thing. If your business does not know where it stands in its industry, it is doomed. With this mind, I have realized that adding a qualitative element to my work has helped me succeed. Most of the deliverables I submit have qualitative data backed with numbers and these have been contextualized to make the reader understand what they actually mean. For example, you can “Company X generated $200 in revenue in 2018” or you can say “Company X generated $200 in revenue in 2018 as opposed to $100 in 2017, a 100% year over year growth.” The latter implicitly signals to the reader that company is doing well. I am also aware providing numbers is not always easy and available (due to the lack of data). In these cases, a quote from an industry veteran will also be apt.
Reach out to others
Never before have companies spent so much time, effort and money in keeping their employees happy. Even a small company like mine has a dedicated peoples team which works hard for employee satisfaction. As an intern you want to make the most of the little time that you are spending at a company. If something is bothering you, make it a point to voice your concern to your boss or any other relevant colleague. Trust me, they will find you a solution before you even realize. In my case, I was finding a particular project unchallenging. I spoke to my boss and she immediately handed me something more complex and engaging. In another instance, I requested my boss if I could accompany her to a business conference where she was pitching a SpotHero product. She was floored that I even asked and immediately obliged. Just as us interns yearn for feedback, so do our seniors from their juniors.
Network, network and network!
No matter how many times people have told you this, I repeat it — NETWORK. As an intern, you have access to an incredible cohort of professionals who might be surprisingly open in helping you whether professionally, academically or personally. In the case that you think you are well connected with your immediate circle, you also have access to their networks. Push yourself to get in touch with people and talk to them about their careers, especially if you dread it. The conversations may be forced or awkward initially but practicing is the only way they are going to get better. However, networking doesn’t end at the first phone call – that’s just the beginning. Most interns make the mistake of not keeping in touch with people that have spoken to earlier or even their colleagues. Make it a point to send in that follow up email, get coffee periodically and share milestones – academic or professional. You will see results sooner that you may ever think.
Thanks again, Aditya. Hopefully you got something out of the experience of writing this. Readers, connect with Aditya!