Introduce yourself! Tell us about where you go to school, where you have worked in the past and where you are this summer? (If it’s a small company, tell us what they do)
My name is Jake and I am a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill. This past summer I interned at a startup in Durham, NC called Noteninja. Noteninja is a software company that provides a sales enablement platform for other companies. We automatically capture customer interactions for your business and convert these interactions into a resource for stronger notes and more efficient coaching/training. My position was a sales intern.
How did you hear about the position and what did they do to recruit you?
One of the cofounders, a UNC alum, actually came and talked to one of my classes, an entrepreneurship class, to inform us about the internship they were offering over the summer. It really intrigued me as I have never worked in a startup before so I wanted to pursue the opportunity. I sent an email to the co founder after class and the interview process was initiated from there.
Why did you ultimately decide to work there? Did you interview anywhere else? Why this particular company?
I was deciding between two internships the one at Noteninja and then another one by my hometown. The one by my hometown was also a startup but it was in the seafood industry. It was also more of an operational internship rather than sales. To me they were both great options but ultimately I picked Noteninja because I was more interested in the software industry. I thought overall it would be more valuable down the road. Certainly I did not have the convenience of living at home for the summer but in hindsight I am happy with the decision I made.
What was the work like that you did? How did it vary from what you expected?
I was mainly in an entry level sales role, a sales development representative. For a startup this involved everything from generating the leads, to creating a sales cadence, to executing that cadence by emailing and calling a ton of potential customers. The work can be somewhat monotonous if you allow it to be. Meaning that at times it feels as if you are repeating the same tasks over and over again. However I found that to be truly effective in sales you must find a way to personalize each touch with the potential customer. This proved to be really challenging because at times I could not find anything I had in common with the person I was reaching out to. However I found simply making that effort to personalize each touch made the job more enjoyable while also resulting in greater success.
What was the work culture like?
The office was at a coworking space in Durham called The American Underground. This place was so cool to work at! There was ping pong, arcade games, cubbies everywhere, a slide (yes a slide from the 1st floor down to the basement), and all kinds of events. Coming into work was never a dreadful thought. However our personal office in the American Underground was not big enough for the co founders and five interns to being working in. Therefore the interns found a spot to work in around the American Underground each day. We would either all separate for the day and find a comfy seat somewhere or we would reserve a room and all work together. Overall the atmosphere was amazing. I loved being surrounded by entrepreneurs, there are over 200 companies in the American Underground, and watching them grind to make their visions a reality. It was an inspiring place to work.
Did you meet any other interns at work? Were there any activities for interns to get to know each other?
Yes of course. As I said there were only five of us so we were able to know each other fairly well by the end of the internship. We would communicate to each other on things that were working and things that were not working in the sales process. Also on Fridays we would have lunch and learns with the cofounders. This was one of my favorite parts of the internship because we were able to discuss and learn about a variety of topics, whatever we were interested in talking about that day.
Overall, what would you say you took away from the summer?
Simply putting your face out there and establishing relationships can pay real dividends in the future.
One of the biggest things I learned from this summer was simply to put yourself out there and to network. In sales you certainly have to be a people person but I learned that really in any aspect of business being able to effectively communicate and develop relationships with people is a huge benefit. Throughout the summer I attended local meetups for young professionals and business insight. Sure I was the youngest person there but that did not matter. People were still curious to hear my story and help in any way possible. Simply putting your face out there and establishing relationships can pay real dividends in the future.
What type of work are you looking to do next? What made you decide and what did you learn this summer to help you get that job?
I want to find an internship that is more operational or finance driven. This internship was very valuable as I learned a ton about sales but now I would like to learn first hand some other sides of a business as well.