As my internship comes to a close I reflect on the highlights of my summer and all of the new things I learned. To start, interning at Industry Dive was a very beneficial experience. The amount I learned about web design as well as the digital media industry and start-up culture was astounding. Here are ten lessons I learned this summer either from the intern program, the design team or from the company. Some of these may seem obvious or cliche but often times you have to experience something before realizing the truth in the statement. If you want more specific technical lessons and the projects I worked on you can find them in the rest of the blog posts.
Office culture matters
One thing that Industry Dive really brags about is their office culture and the fact they have been selected as a Washington, DC best place to work. I didn’t understand the importance of this until I started working here. Really enjoying where you work and who you work with makes the tasks seem much easier. Feeling comfortable to ask questions and recommend new ideas allows everyone to feel like they are a pivotal part of the team.
Never stop learning
Our weekly company meetings surprised me in that I didn’t expect to enjoy them as much as I did. The meetings consisted of each department sharing what they were working on and allowed people to celebrate co-workers accomplishments. At the end of the meeting a different department presented what they do on a daily basis. The fact that everyone wanted to learn about each other reflects the overarching collaborative and inquisitive environment.
Coffee is a way to network
Another company wide event was the coffee challenge. The challenge tasks each new hire to take different co-workers out to coffee. The hope is to encourage all new hires to interact with other departments one-on-one and make personal connections. Since I am typically more of an introverted person this gave me a way to reach out to individuals and push myself out of my comfort zone. This taught me the importance of getting to know different people throughout the office even if they aren’t in your department. It also inadvertently taught me to tolerate coffee.
Group projects will always be hard
Part of the internship program was the internship project. The challenge was for the five interns to create a data driven featured article. In the end we were very proud of our final product but it wasn’t always a seamless process. Group projects will always face challenges around divvying up roles and solving unanticipated road bumps. The difference compared to school projects was that all of the interns wanted to succeed and contribute to the project. I found working with a group of intelligent individuals on a real-world project was much more satisfying than a grade.
Dogs are great work partners
A fun highlight at Industry Dive was the open dog policy where employees can bring their dog in for the day. Being able to work with a dog at your feet was definitely something new and brought smiles to everyone at the company. I grew up with two dogs so it was great getting to have some canine friends around. I also learned that I would probably never bring a dog in as I personally wouldn’t be able to get anything done.
Resumes don’t have to have everything but the kitchen sink
Part of the internship program was the resume review. I was given the opportunity to send my resume to my supervisor for feedback. Initially my resume included every accomplishment I had ever achieved since my freshman year. The review helped me focus my resume and set me up for success for when I decide to apply to jobs.
Startups have a lot to offer
One of the most impactful lessons from this summer was realizing the opportunities that startups hold. The variety and scope of projects I was able to work on wouldn’t be possible at a larger company where roles are much more cut and dry. Seeing just how the design team could offer up new ideas that were implemented in a quick time frame really opened my eyes to the benefits of small companies. While startups may not hold the prestige of working for a household name, being able to make a difference and shape a product is something that I have always considered a career goal.
Career paths are not linear
Another internship program event was the new hire panel. Note that at Industry Dive “new hire” is relative term since the company has doubled in size in the past year and new hires are abundant. During this event all of the interns were able to hear about how different individuals ended up at the company. The most surprising aspect was the fact that not many of the employees graduated expecting to be in the role they are in now. While I know I am interested in web design I understand I probably can’t predict the exact role I will fill come a few years after graduation.
Gifs are still relevant
One prominent part of the Industry Dive community were gifs. I quickly learned that my gif knowledge and experience are greatly lacking. While I still have a lot of room for improvement I have learned about making, finding and sending gifs.
There is always a way to improve
The final lesson I learned from the design department was that you can always be improving and optimizing. While I was here the process for different design team projects was continually being optimized and questioned. Rather than just settling on something that worked the desire to be constantly improving drove all the tech and design decisions. In just my ten weeks a new mobile site was launched, a new mobile application was drafted, a new desktop site was started and a new design workflow was developed.