Why Internships Matter
“Where are you working this summer?”
This is a question I am way too familiar with as I approach my senior year of college at Saint Mary’s College of California. I am fortunate to be able to answer this question with pride because I am the PR/Event Marketing Intern for Coupa Software.
I have always been told an internship is important to have on my résumé because it is something that can set one candidate apart from another when applying for jobs post grad. Although I had been given this advice, I was unsure of the real value I would take away from a summer internship.
I am studying communications, and my advisor at school recommended me looking further into PR and events marketing because I enjoy writing and am good at planning. So, I was ecstatic when I found out I got the internship at Coupa.
An Email From the Boss
A few days prior to my start date I received an email from my boss telling me what he wanted me to learn throughout the summer, and projects he wanted me to conquer. I didn’t know what half of it meant, but I was extremely anxious to begin and start learning.
I always imagined an internship would be an opportunity for me to shadow a mentor and do busy work they didn’t have time to do. Before my internship began, I imagined myself sitting in the corner of an office doing work that was passed off to me by my bosses and others in the marketing department. I am fortunate to be able to say this was not at all what my summer looked like!
During my first week at Coupa, I went to an introductory lunch with my fellow interns where we were asked “What do you hope to get out of this summer?” My answer was “To learn the ins and outs of PR and Event Marketing.” I did all of that, and more
My first project of the summer was to conduct interviews and research and draft a press release for a report Coupa was featured in. I barely knew what a press release was, and was surprised by the amount of trust my boss had in me to get this task done. He helped me step by step, and when I finished I couldn’t believe I had distributed my first press release within my first three days at work. Throughout the summer I completed three more press releases covering topics such a new executive hire and an award Coupa earned, “A Great Place to Work.”
I also spent time working on blog posts. I did background research, and interviewed colleagues and people at external organizations. I never knew how many revisions blog posts and press releases went through before they are published, and through each revision I learned something new.
Along with my PR projects, I was lucky enough to dip my fingers into event marketing projects. I helped with contacting vendors for tradeshows Coupa attends, and with planning small networking events in different regions throughout the US.
Learning the Ropes
Learning the “ins and outs” of PR and Event Marketing ended up being much more than I thought. I learned that these are just two functions of the marketing team as a whole, and how they integrate with other marketing functions. For instance, customer marketing brings in speakers for in-person events and webinars, PR promotes those speakers and the event itself, and the social team shares and publicizes everything. I was fascinated by how each smaller team within the larger team interacts with one another to achieve a greater goal.
I was also exposed to situations I may not have seen while working somewhere else. I was included in weekly meetings where the marketing department met with our CEO, Rob Bernshteyn to discuss progress on projects, and participated in weekly phone calls with our teams in EMEA and APAC. Coupa has a very inclusive environment and I was able to form good relationships with my colleagues, and I felt comfortable voicing my thoughts and ideas to them.
In addition to all of the work I accomplished, I also had a lot of fun. This summer was Coupa’s first summer implementing a structured internship program. There were a total of 15 interns located domestically and globally and we were able to interact with one another through a variety of planned activities. As a group we went to a San Francisco Giants game, volunteered with a local food bank where we packed more than 4,000 pounds of food in two hours, and had lunch with Coupa’s CEO Rob Bernshteyn. This program gave me the opportunity to connect with my peers and make new friends that could someday be future colleagues.
“Coupa's intern program is designed to help prepare students on how to be resourceful and deliver results in the work place. We want our interns to confidently take what they’ve learned during the summer back to school and to their future employers, including Coupa. Our program is just getting started and we're excited to work with the next incoming class to help prepare as they establish themselves as future leaders,” said Larry Sanford, head of global talent acquisition and enablement.
Based on my experience and conversations I had with my peers this summer, I’d say the internship program accomplished those goals. I can confidently say that we all did real work, not busy work.
Ready to Take on the World
That gives all of us lot to put on our resumes, but I think the real reason internships matter is because students are immersed in an office culture that is very different than the classroom environment we have been used to for the past 13 to 15 years. Rather than feeling intimidated and marginalized as an intern, I felt like a valued contributor. And, I can confidently say the workforce is no longer a mystery to me. “Post-grad” life can seem terrifying for some, but I am excited about life after college because Coupa has provided me a strong foundation to reference as I take my next steps into looking for full-time positions in 2018.
I am so thankful for the opportunities this summer presented to me and now that the summer has come to an end, I am delighted to know I get to go back to school and be a brand ambassador for Coupa Software. I hope when students are looking for internships, they can appreciate my experience and consider working for Coupa.