Knock. Knock. Who’s There? An Inside Look at the Internship Experience Behind AfterCollege’s Doors

summer interns 2013
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The sign outside of the AfterCollege office reads:

VISITORS AND DELIVERIES,

PLEASE KNOCK LOUDLY

AND SOMEONE WILL BE

RIGHT WITH YOU

THANKS,

AfterCollege

I stood outside of the door for a few seconds, hesitating. Should I knock? Should I turn and run? If I ran now, I could be back at my new apartment in 30 minutes!

Oh wait… if I turned and ran now I would not be able to afford my new apartment. I would not gain the experience of blogging and working on social media for a real company. My résumé would be no greater, and I would be none the wiser. My triple shot skinny vanilla soy latte steamed in my hand. That would be wasted as well. I prayed to the caffeine gods to give me courage. I would not run! I had gotten this internship, had bought a one-way ticket and moved to the city. I was not going to run away from this opportunity.

Knock.

I should have run…

Was I dressed alright? I was a couple of minutes early. Was that too early? What would I say when someone answered the door? Shoot. I should probably just leave. I still had time to leave, right?

Nope, someone had opened the door.

I was shown to the center of the office where the two other interns sat eating the breakfast burritos that had been provided for us. (That was the first sign. What sort of haughty tortuous company would provide its interns with breakfast burritos?) I sat down with the other interns. We had no trouble getting along (probably because we were all in the same boat of anxiety and nerves).

Little did we know, there wasn’t much to be nervous about. Yes, the work we’d be doing was nothing to be cast aside, but the people we would be doing the work with were not the cold and bitter coworkers who sashayed about the halls in movies like The Devil Wears Prada.

We should have been reassured the moment we entered the office. If the breakfast burritos didn’t do it, the office décor should have. “The entire office is decorated with random stuff like Steve’s face,” Jessica Moore, interactive design intern, says laughing and referring to the posters and piñata featuring our VP of engineering’s face. There was even a picture of Ryan Gosling tacked up on the wall that we could have used to calm our nerves.

Still, we didn’t get the hint.

It wasn’t until a game of ZombieFluxx at lunch with a few of the engineers, that we (or at least I) realized how much camaraderie and fun was included in the AfterCollege environment.

“The other people who work here are very friendly and the group lunches are fun since we can all get together and play games and such. That’s a huge difference from my internship last summer. The people I worked with last summer were much older. They didn’t do as many social gatherings,” says Simon Luppescu, the software development intern.

We love that the AfterCollege atmosphere turned out to be so “chill” and that we get to do awesome stuff like go to the movies and watch baseball games together, but the most exciting part about this summer internship is that we are all enjoying what we’re working on.

Jessica is hard at work designing the AfterCollege mobile app. She loves the fact that her work combines research with creativity. “I love being able to use science to make things accessible to our users. It’s great seeing how what I’ve created actually influences people’s choices when using my app.”

She’s also surprised by the amount of independence she has while working on her project. “Teresa gives me project assignments and then goes to work on her own thing.” The confidence that her mentor has in her work has allowed her to find the self-motivation she truly possesses.

Simon is enjoying the fact that he gets to work on multiple projects. There is an overall machine learning project, but recently he was also assigned a smaller related project. This smaller project is related to creating Selenium scripts to test activity on the AfterCollege website. It also tracks any errors that may occur. In the meantime, he is working on a small webpage that will be used to get feedback from the rest of the company. This will improve data that will be used for the machine learning.

“I don’t generally like to be working on one very specific thing. I think it limits the scope of my work, and sometimes I might find myself unsure of what to do next. Having multiple projects and skills here keeps me busy. That productive feeling is what makes me comfortable.”

As for myself, I am enjoying choosing different topics to write about for the blog. After spending a good amount of time looking into other blogs that generate content for recent graduates (or those soon to graduate) in regards to the job search, I am excited to come up with ideas for new posts or to be given assignments that allow me to generate content I think will entertain and benefit our readers. It’s been great learning how to transform my style of writing into a style that is suitable for a blog. Through watching Melissa Suzuno, Content Marketing Specialist, correcting my work, reformatting certain parts of my copy, and reading past blog posts, I feel I am learning to generate appropriate content.

All in all, it’s been a great experience and one I would highly recommend. All three of us have learned a lot and not just from our specific departments. During the internship period, we have attended “Lunch & Learn” sessions (see the photos below). In these sessions, one or two people from different AfterCollege departments come and sit with us. They explain their backgrounds and describe their individual jobs at AfterCollege. Through these Lunch & Learns we have been able to get a better understanding of how AfterCollege works as a whole. We have seen how different people from a variety of backgrounds have found themselves at their individual roles with the company. These sessions are a perfect time to ask questions and get details about how people went from college students to employees.

bri lunch & learn chelsea lunch & learn

Perry & Truman's Lunch & Learn

Not that there has been a bad time to ask questions. Every moment here can be taken as a learning opportunity. The AfterCollege environment, the closeness and relaxed feel, allows us to ask questions and get advice whenever we need it. We are never far from someone who can help us understand and improve.

Opportunity knocked on my door at the start of this summer. I’m glad that I recognized it for what it was and did some door knocking of my own.

Homework Time! Nervous about starting an internship soon? Research some techniques to help calm you down before your first day. Here’s “10 Ways To Avoid First Day Jitters” from The Daily Muse to get you started. Find any other good first day nerves articles? Share them with us in the comment box!

P.S. Were you nervous about starting an internship? What fears did you have? How were they valid? How were they ridiculous? Leave a comment below.

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