Dear future me,
By the time you read this next, you’ll be on your way back to Ann-Arbor to kick off an unforgettable senior year. You just ended off your summer in San Francisco — YOU MADE IT, CONGRATULATIONS! Bet it was one hell of a ride. You may or may not have matured during your time there, may or may not have gotten a better understanding of the world and your place in it. Hopefully, both are in the affirmative.
Let’s dive right into them. You had written this down in one of your many notebooks, ones which you buy and never end up using till they are finished. Hence, I’m documenting them here. Read them. Reflect on them. Assess them. Learn from them.
- Learn from your mentors and coworkers that which you lack
You’ve got the opportunity to work in an area outside your comfort zone — sales and marketing. You’ve always been a science focused student, starting off with Mechanical Engineering as your major and then moving to Physics. Understand that though studying in these lines have prepared you to an extent to understand product design, development and most things along that line, you have gained none to little experience in how to run a business, how to market a product and how to sell a product. With the focus on your ambition of starting your own renewable energy related firm when you move back home to Bangladesh, you have yet to learn and experience how to run a business and successfully sell products. Your mentor has an extensive background in sales and you will also be working closely with the marketing team and the COO. Their wealth of experience is what you want to get out of these next three months. Make sure you listen, take mental (and if needed physical) notes and take notice even the subtle nuances such as how they deal with the team and clients. What do they look for to understand sales? How do they approach finding new marketing opportunities? How are team meetings conducted? How to manage expectations? How to ensure the company culture is conducive, friendly and yet as efficient as can be?
- Attain a better sense of the opportunities available in different industries
San Francisco is one of the hubs of emerging technologies across the world. You will be at the heart of innovation during your time there. So do not limit your engagement to just in your internship. Reach out to alumni or just industry disruptors in general. Understand the landscape from within and try to reach out both within your interests of renewable energy, autonomous transportation, and city solutions, and out of it such as Fin Tech, Ed Tech, Health Tech etc. Explore and give your self to learn as much as possible because you never know how you can apply these lessons later on or what relationships you foster that may allow you to meet or exceed your expectations in the future.
- Attend as many events and meet as many alumni/individuals immersed in industries as you can
You’ve set yourself tangible expectations for the goal above. Try to meet with at least one alumni or industry individual every week. Follow up on connections you made from the CFE sponsored WUST trip from March. Ask them for references. Use LinkedIn to find others who you’ve never met — you never know who will agree to meet you and who won’t so step up your cold email game. Also, try to attend up to 10 events at the time as well. Volunteer at events, or simply buy tickets depending on your situation but try to get in there as much as possible. Again, you never know how you can apply these lessons later on or what relationships you foster that may allow you to meet or exceed your expectations in the future.
My hope is by the time you read this, half way through or at the end of your internship, you will have done enough on your part to say to yourself, “I did what I wanted to do this summer!” This is your chance, get after it.
Nahiyan A. Bakr
I am an international student from Bangladesh at the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, studying Interdisciplinary Physics. As of Summer 2017, I’ve been working as sales and marketing intern for a San Francisco startup. To connect , contact me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or follow my journey on my SoundCloud channel.