On Being a PM Intern at a SaaS Startup

Welcome back to the second installment of my journey as TeamLift’s inaugural Product Management Intern!

Over the last month, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to work in a corporate start-up setting, and it hasn’t always been what I expected. In addition to doing my usual Product Management work- i.e. triangulating with design, business, technical development teams, and potential clients, and engaging in user testing and product timeline development- I’ve had to learn how to advocate for myself. As a Product Management Intern, I realized that there were times when I felt out of the loop because there were  meetings reserved for higher-level teams, who were unaware of my skills or interests. This created a disadvantage for me, negatively impacting my performance because Product Management requires up-to-date intel on product development. When I brought this issue to my supervisor’s attention, she was more than happy to bring me in for product meetings with the company’s leadership team. This has helped me perform my duties to the best of my ability. 

The World of Work is pretty different from my academic life. In academics, you tend to have very similar assignments across the board: coding, essays, exams, etc. At TeamLift, my performance is measured by my impact on the team. For instance, when I gained verbal confirmation that a high-powered financial corporation would use TeamLift’s SaaS product, I knew my networking, marketing, and product-thinking skills directly paid off.

There is also less support and structure in the world of work, however I am learning what questions to ask and which tasks to delegate. Overall, I am finding the experience to be educational.

A Sprint Board That I Designed: This is How we Set Goals for Each Team, One Week at a Time! (The Data on the Green Stickies are Redacted for Confidentiality)

Through my work in this internship, I’ve developed a plethora of skills that will be applicable to my future employment. Through my meetings with the company teams, I’ve gained a technical understanding of the operation of SaaS startups. I’ve developed my cross-functional communication skills, learned industry best practices, as well as Agile project and product management. These skills are the cornerstone of a successful product manager, and will serve me well when securing future employment in my field. These skills may also be applicable to my computer science, business, and entrepreneurship courses that I will be taking this coming year.

The best part of this experience, however, is the people skills that I’ve built. Interpersonal skills are considered to be the defining trait of a leader, regardless of field or profession, and are transferable across every sectors. These competencies may be unteachable in a classroom environment, as they require consistent, functional, real-world interactions, either virtually or in-person. Since part of me hopes to be an entrepreneur in the long run, knowing how to assemble a team, effectively communicate, and deliver results by working collaboratively, is key.  The brainstorming, idea generation, agreements and even discord, I experienced throughout my internship will allow me to thrive in the days to come as life takes me to new places and new experiences.