For the last six months, I’ve been working at SmartBear as a Social Media Marketing Intern. Although I was only working part-time while balancing classes during my freshmen year, I learned way more about software, marketing, and life in general than I had expected. Here’s what interning at SmartBear taught me:
- Unexpected journeys are usually the best ones.
Declaring a Communications major and a Marketing minor, I knew that the job possibilities were endless; most companies benefit from a marketing department in some way. I knew that I could find a job in virtually any industry, but I didn’t understand the true breadth of that until I was hired at a software company. When I applied to SmartBear back in December of 2017, it took me a couple tries to remember what the company did. Trying to explain it to my parents was fun—the initial reaction was “Wait—did you change your major?” This was definitely an unexpected journey, but a valuable one nonetheless. I have learned so much about something I probably never would have learned about otherwise, and I have grown so much more than I ever expected.
- You’re probably going to make some stupid mistakes. Embrace it.
It doesn’t matter how careful you are, there will undoubtedly be a point when you’re rushing to finish drafting the last social post before you run into a meeting and you hit send a little too soon—and suddenly you’re on LinkedIn wishing everyone a happy Friday… on a Thursday. It happens. It’s okay. Rather than harping on your mistakes, learn from them and grow from it. Whether it’s something as minute as forgetting what day it is or something bigger, there’s always a lesson in the mistake. Seek it out and learn from it, even if that lesson is to slow down and proofread before you publish (which is a good idea anyway).
- Schedules are flexible—learn to be okay with that.
I am extremely Type A and always have been. I plan my days to the minute. My calendars are color-coded, I have train schedules bookmarked on my phone and my laptop, and my to-do lists are scheduled out precisely. To an extent, scheduling is important. It gives you a sense of priority and structure, but here’s the thing: life happens. Your social calendar might be thrown off because of an unexpected delay in content. Blog posts are late because a more important one came up. Trains run late because, well, trains run late. Get used to it; the quicker you learn to be flexible, the less stressed you’ll be.
- Rush hour is every hour and any hour.
No, really. I used to think there was a morning rush hour and an evening rush hour—then I tried to commute from my hometown about an hour south of Boston and let me tell you, that was quite the rude-awakening. Rush hour seems to be whenever I am trying to get anywhere. I’ve spent the last six months trying to navigate around rush hour traffic (to no avail, no matter how hard I tried). More than that, though, I’ve learned to evaluate when I am at my personal “rush hour”; what times of day do I work most efficiently? Understanding when your peak levels of productivity are and making your to-do list around that will save you from a lot of stress and sloppy work, trust me.
- Don’t be afraid to ask—the worst they can say is ‘no.’
Last Fall, I came across a job posting for a marketing internship at a software company that I had never heard of. I was a Freshman at a small school who had yet to even take a marketing class. Regardless, I liked the job description, so I sent in my resumé on a whim and didn’t think anything would come of it, but next thing I knew, I was starting this job and being asked “What do you want to get out of this internship?” That was a really hard question that no boss had ever asked me. What did she mean? Wasn’t I supposed to just come in, do the job they told me to do, and go home? Not at SmartBear. I came up with a list of goals I wanted to achieve, even if they were outside of my job description, and my boss helped me come up with a plan to achieve those goals by the end of my internship. Who knew?
- There really is no such thing as a stupid question.
I’ve learned a lot about software in my time here; my first day was spent Googling “what does API stand for.” And today? I can use it in a sentence and (very vaguely) define it. When I log on to my computer in my little cubicle here in Somerville, I am part of the company voice, which means I have to sound like I know what I’m talking about, which, at first, was absolutely terrifying. Here’s the good news, though: there was an entire team of people here to help me answer users’ questions, and they were more than happy to answer my questions as well. No one expected me to know anything about software when I got here (which was a relief, to say the least). But they did expect me to ask questions and to take initiative to learn. I was pushed a little outside of my comfort zone here, but because of that, I grew as a person. Yes, I know more about software now than I did six months ago. But I also have a better understanding of how to use my resources to find help, and I’m much better at saying “I don’t know.”
As I write this, my internship is wrapping up and it will definitely be weird not to get on the orange line three days a week and head to Somerville. I have grown so much in the last six months, but if I learned anything, it’s the importance of taking chances and trusting yourself. There was no part of me that thought I would get to experience this so early in my college career, no part of me that thought that a software company would hire someone with so little (read: absolutely zero) knowledge about software. I doubted my ability to take five classes and commute an hour away from school three days a week, while achieving the goals I wanted to. But I did it all, and as I say goodbye to SmartBear, I can walk away feeling like I truly achieved something—all because I took some risks.
I have discovered just how much I’m capable of, and for that, I am indebted to the SmartBear family: thank you for letting me be a part of this family for a short time, for believing in me, for supporting me, and for pushing me to grow each and every day.
I absolutely loved my time at SmartBear. If you’re interested in applying to join the team, new co-op and internship opportunities are posted all the time on the careers page.