While I still have several more weeks of my internship, I know the bittersweet ending is surely nearing as I am now working on my final tasks.
Reflecting on my experience, I now understand a crucial thing about the entrepreneurial environment: the only constant is complication. No matter how simple, small or inconsequential a Salesforce or Excel task may have seemed at a first glance, it always took longer than I could ever have expected. Due to the fact that every system and process was uncharted territory for EMA, everything required multiple iterations and everything took time. Naturally, this changed how much I ended up completing versus how much I expected to complete. However, this does not mean I didn’t learn as much as I expected to. If anything, it forced me to find alternative solutions, rethink my approaches, and ask my advisors more specific questions than I would have had to if all went according to plan. I gained a far deeper understanding of the different software I worked with, and in this sense my internship was a huge success. I will surely be more confident going into a technical business role than before my internship.
The one goal I was unable to accomplish was being able to interact and speak with attorneys from EMA’s network. I did not have opportunities to speak with lawyers about litigating; however, I was able to speak with EMA’s in-house attorney and gain some insight into what it is like as a startup business attorney.
Overall, I would say I am most proud of myself for rolling with the punches. I was given tasks that I had no idea where to even begin looking, but I eventually figured out each task. I had to stretch my resourcefulness as far as it could go, and along the way I gained a working understanding of a software I had no prior experience with. I have finally gained the confidence that I can handle whatever is thrown at me, all I have to do is find a starting place.
This internship has clarified my career interests because I now know the kind of work I do enjoy and the work I don’t enjoy. For example, I absolutely loved discussing the pros and cons of one system versus another with my advisors. I really enjoyed talking about the customer experience and how we can tailor their website to be even more appealing. On the other hand, I wasn’t as fond of repetitive tasks like creating dozens of new entry fields. I learned that I derive a lot of satisfaction from working with people and brainstorming solutions to problems. This knowledge about myself will surely be useful when choosing what jobs to apply for and which ones to pass on.
EMA falls into two categories: a startup business and a litigation-based business. For any future startup interns, I have several pieces of advice:
- Your job description may say one thing, but you will need to wear many hats. Embrace the learning experience rather than fear the different kinds of thinking you may need to do.
- Simple is elegant. Extraneous pieces and details of a system will only serve to complicate your task as well as the business’ operations. Make a product or system as simple as you possibly can to suit their goals.
I also have some advice to any future EMA interns:
- Work closely with the in-house lawyers. While your tasks might seem much more on the business side, EMA is a litigation-based business so much of the business tasks are only there to best fit the needs of the lawyers in preparing client documents and litigating for clients.
- Your supervisors are very experienced and knowledgeable; don’t be afraid to ask them any questions that you are curious about.
- Visit their website to get a better idea of who they are and what they do. Their business isn’t simple so learning more about them will give you a much clearer understanding of what they may ask you to do.