Halfway through my sophomore year at Brown University, I was in panic mode. It was the crisis all college kids go through – trying to determine a career path and finding a quality internship experience that would best prepare me for that. Establishing what type of business and role I should aspire to seemed like a daunting task as my friends lined up jobs with big banks and well-known companies. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to gain valuable experience that would help set me up for success in the future.
I started networking and had a few interviews that went well. At this point in my life, I simply assumed that I would end up crunching numbers or folding envelopes simply to make the right connections for future opportunities. That was before I was introduced to the President of Seismic, Ed Calnan.
Ed gave me the rundown about his career in sales, what it takes to make it in the business, and then introduced me to the rest of the employees at the Boston office.
My visit to the Boston office mirrors my official visit to Brown for football. When my head coach, Phil Estes, showed me around campus for the first time I fell in love with the school in every way. Providence seemed like the perfect college location, I would compete for a coaching staff that has an outstanding reputation, and every player I met cared desperately about winning, working hard, and having fun. It didn’t matter that they didn’t know what position they wanted me to play or what other schools were recruiting me – my coach saw something in me, and I knew Brown was where I needed to go.
When Ed took me around the office that day, I had that same feeling about work. I could live at home and easily commute into the city, I got along with and respected everyone I met, and they all seemed to deeply care about working for the team. They had extremely high standards for themselves and each other, but weren’t afraid to have some fun in the office either.
The office consisted of two call rooms, a conference room, and an open space with 15 desks, a refrigerator, basketball hoop, dartboard, candy station, TV and Xbox. I couldn’t tell if I was back at my fraternity house or in my future office, and I loved it. Like at Brown, I didn’t even know what my position would be with the company, I had no idea what sales enablement or content management was, but the team saw something in me and the fit was there.
As it would turn out, I arrived back in May and became a marketing intern, but also worked closely with the sales team. Learning about Seismic and my new job was the equivalent of opening my playbook freshman year for the first time. I was eager and excited to learn, but it would take hours of preparation to understand what I was doing. I quickly realized that when you are working at a startup, every position is vital towards the success of the company. I was never filing papers or taking out trash – I was creating and delivering content that would soon create leads and deals. For a three week period, I even became the content marketing manager of the entire company while we were in the process of hiring. How’s that for experience?
The practical aspect of building blog posts and content has been much like getting repetitions at practice. The more content I created, the more I learned about marketing and the better I felt about the material I was sending out.
I found that the sales process was a lot like working your way up the depth chart. The harder you work, the better you perform, and the more deals you make results in higher compensation and a greater reward (such as playing time).
Last but not least, I was inspired by the emails Ed sent out at the end of every week, titled “Friday Night Lights”. These were the work versions of pregame speeches. When he acknowledges the highlights of the week, we’re reminded of our goals. As he urges us to all keep our heads down and work harder, I get covered in goosebumps. It can’t be normal for an intern to be excited to go back to work every Monday.
Working at Seismic was not only one of the greatest learning experiences I’ve ever had, but life experience as well. Between lunches and nights out in Boston, becoming the world’s biggest bandwagon World Cup and Team USA soccer fan, mini basketball, shuffleboard and dart tournaments, cheeseburger eating contests and Xbox grudge matches, I didn’t have a dull day in three months.
Last week, the company flew everyone out to our headquarters in San Diego for our annual company meeting to discuss future goals, new products, and to celebrate the year. From Hawaiian outrigger canoeing and late nights on the hotel rooftop to daylong team meetings and presentations, it was an amazing experience to meet and become close with the entire team outside of Boston. I learned more from listening to Seismic’s CEO Doug Winter speak for eight hours than I ever have in a class at school. It was during this time that everything came together for me, and I realized just how remarkable the startup experience is. Just a few points that blew my mind:
- “Building a company is like building a soufflé”: The recipe is easy… building something innovative that can keep customer satisfaction through the roof is another task – that is how you grow big, that is where the money comes from.
- We built this product to solve a problem. There is always a problem to be solved. Does it matter? Is it real and important? A company will never be successful unless it makes a difference.
- Keep your eyes on the horizon but don’t trip on the step in front of you. When a company grows fast, it’s because it is capturing an opportunity… and it needs continuous growth in order to really be something down the road. But it’s easy to get ahead of yourself; focus on how each day affects the long-term goal.
Every day of work here is like game day, and I couldn’t be happier to have been a part of this team. While going back to college has never been so bittersweet, I will always keep these experiences and people close to me. As an Organizational Behavior major, I know I will constantly apply what I’ve learned, and my future career path is far less blurry now.
Just as I had hoped, I have a greater sense of what it takes to be successful in any organization. It takes the right company that can solve a customer’s legitimate problem or need with the product or service, team, and vision to make it all happen.
How awesome is that?