My Goals for 2018

To follow a yearly tradition, in a previous post I evaluated my progress against my goals. In this one, I’ll outline my goals for 2018, and highlight the areas where I hope to focus my time and energy for the upcoming year.

Build Skills for my new job

Since I recently transitioned into a new job and career, I am learning a great deal about a new function and trade. While I’m happy with the move and the progress I’ve made so far, I want to continue to build my skills and competency as a marketer, since it looks like I’ll be in this field for awhile. Whether it’s attending marketing events, networking with other marketers, or aligning my side-hustles to get hands on skills, I want to accelerate my learning in 2018

Redevelop new routine

The new job means that I’ll have significantly less travel. In addition, I also moved to a new apartment. With all this change, I need to rethink my routines in order to make the most of my time and ensure that I’m focusing on the right activities. Whether it’s re-thinking my gym schedule, finding time during the week to see friends, or figuring out how to make the most of my weekend, I want to re-develop a new routine and stick to it in the new year.

Take initiative for building friendships

It’s taken time, but I am starting to finally build out a good group of friends here in San Francisco. Traveling every week for 2.5 years made it more challenging to build friendships, but even in spite of that making new friends and building relationships takes a lot of effort. It can be hard when building new friendships to want to invest the time and effort in a new friendship, especially when you only have limited time to begin with, but that shouldn’t be the reason why you choose to not invest in any relationships. For 2018, I want to take the initiative in investing in these relationships, and making the most of being in San Francisco and having more time to spend on things that I care about.

Transition from Thinking to Doing

2017 was a lot of reflecting, thinking and musing about the future. Obviously, there was a lot of doing in terms of making the transition and going through a job interview process, but I invested a lot of time in the thinking piece in order to get there. I want to flip it in 2018, and while I’ll always be thinking, focus more on the “Doing.” Yes, reflection is great, but doing and executing is where things happen, and that needs to be a focal point for 2018

Focus in on “Side Projects”

Since I can remember, I’ve always had a side-project or two that I’ve worked on which has helped me channel my creative energy and passions. While this has been great, I seem to be juggling a lot of balls in the air, and am not making as much progress since it’s hard to focus on so many things at once. In 2018, one of my goals will be to do an audit of all the ongoing “side projects” and make some big bets as to where I want to focus my time moving forward.

Travel somewhere new

In 2017, I got the chance to visit a lot of places I always visit (ex: DC, Boston, NYC, Chicago, LA) and also got to visit some new places (Palm Springs, Hawaii) I want to continue to visit old favorites but also continue to expand into new ones as well.

2017 brought change and new opportunities. I’m looking forward to exploring some of these paths further, and excited for what’s in store!

My 2017 Resolution Report Card

Two years ago, I started a “Year in Review” exercise to reflect on my progress during the year and to understand where I could do better. It’s also a great reflection exercise to prepare me for my resolutions for the upcoming year. In the full spirit of transparency I’ve decided to review those goals and to grade myself on how I did.

Goal: Keep Going Out Of Your Comfort Zone B+

For most of my life, I’ve use some sort of framework (costs/benefits, pro’s/cons etc) to make decisions, mitigate risk and increase my chances of success. And while that’s proven to be a great strategy it’s also prevented me from taking risks and stepping outside of my comfort zone. It’s something I’ve realized over the past few years, and last year I made it a priority to push myself to take my risks.

In 2017, I made progress towards this goal in a number of ways. I challenged myself to change my eating and dietary habits, pushed myself to build relationships, traveled to new places and wrote/blogged as much as I ever have before. Not to mention, I finally took the plunge and left consulting for a new opportunity. This is a goal that I hope to keep with me for the rest of my life, but I’m proud of what I did in 2017.

Goal:Continue to Invest in Relationships in San Francisco A-

In 2015 and 2016, I spent the majority of my time on the road, which made it difficult to invest in meeting friends and building relationships in San Francisco. So last year, I made it a goal of mine to invest the time to do just that, and overall, I felt like I did a good job. I made a much stronger and intentional effort to reach out to friends, organize group events, or just catch someone for coffee or a quick hello. I even started somewhat of a monthly brunch club!

I will admit, there was some uncertainty or hesitation at times. It may sound silly, but there’s always this fear of rejection or embarrassment that others don’t want to spend time with you. However, most of that was just in my head, and even when things didn’t pan out I’m glad I made the effort.

 

Goal: Focus on Improving the Community I live in C+

Since I can now call San Francisco home, I felt it was important to invest in shaping and improving the community. This is an area where I felt I came up short, as I didn’t get nearly as involved as I would have hoped to.

Goal: Inspiring others around me A-

This is a bit of a soft and amorphous goal, but one that I think is really important. I chose this one based off of some feedback that I got in a performance review, but also because given the state of affairs in the world right now I felt that it was something that I could do to contribute “my part,” and I thought I delivered on this promise.

2017 was a year unlike any other that I’ve seen in my life, and I’m fortunate to have had many positive things come out of it, and I look forward to achieving even more for 2018.

Here’s How I landed a Tech MBA Internship

The Tech Industry is an exciting place to work, and there is no shortage of excitement amongst college and MBA students. This excitement is a double-edged sword, as it also means there is lots of competition for these sought after internships.

During the summer of 2014, I spent my summer working in a Product Marketing MBA Internship at a Tech company, and since then, I have recounted my story to hundreds of other students and young professionals who have sought out my guidance as they have gone through their own journey. I wanted to share my journey of how I went about finding my summer tech internship.

Develop a Hypothesis

The first step in this process is understanding what you want to do, or at least an educated guess of your ideal internship. This is important because when you know what you want, figuring out what steps you need to take to get there is much easier.

While it might be difficult to know for 100% what you want (a good reason to do an internship!) starting with an informed hypothesis enables you to go out and test it. Generally, your hypothesis is grounded in your interests, skillsets, and what the market has a demand for.

My hypothesis was that I wanted an internship in marketing for an established tech company in the Bay Area. This hypothesis was based off past positive experiences working with a handful of these tech companies, my conversations with friends who worked at this companies and who viewed the company and industry positively, and  my past experience working on projects related to marketing.

 

Develop Priorities

It’s also helpful to determine your priorities and what’s most important to you. So, not only determining what’s important, but relative to other things, how important specific characteristics of a job are. For some of you, the brand name of the company will be really important. For others, it will be the geography, the size of the company, or the role/function. Ideally, you’ll want to come up a set of characteristics that are important to you and some kind of hierarchy so that later down the road when you are applying to internships and potentially deciding on whether to take a job you’ll have some sort of rubric to determine how good of fit the role is given what you’re looking for. I’ve written about a priority framework previously and am happy to share mine.

Explore and Learn

Once you’ve developed a hypothesis of what you want to do now is the time to go and test it by going out and gathering data and information to prove or disprove that hypothesis. There are lots of blogs and content out there about what it’s like to go work at a tech company.

Additionally, there are thousands of job postings for almost any role imaginable to learn about the skills and experiences companies look for in applicants. And finally, there are plenty of people out there who already do these jobs who can provide you with a first-hand look at what these jobs are like.

For about a 4-6 week period, I spent my days reading articles on what it’s like to work in tech, scouring through job postings to understand the critical competencies needed for each role. Checking LinkedIn to understand the job and career progression of someone who worked in product marketing at a tech company, and finally, scheduling and conducting conversations with people to learn first hand. I had discovered that my hypothesis was in fact correct, and I was confident in my decision to look for Product Marketing internships.

First day of my Internship!

Cultivate The Network

There’s a lot of reasons why networking and having a good network of contacts is important. In the case of my internship search, talking to existing Product Marketers helped me understand what Product Marketers do, the challenges and opportunities of the job, the potential career progression and development and the successful characteristics and traits of product marketers. They also gave me insight into what it was like to work at their specific company.

This was all helpful to me because it gave me the information I needed to determine if A) I wanted to be a product marketer and B) if I had what it took to be a product marketer and C) if I was interested in working at the company they were at.

The pink elephant in the room is that networking is also important because it helps get your foot in the door at companies you are interested in. If you know someone who can give you a referral for a posting, that is probably something of value to your candidacy, and while referrals are no guarantees they certainly don’t hurt. Additionally, people on the inside of companies you are looking at can also be helpful in that they can sometimes tip you off to jobs or internships that haven’t been posted yet.

Finally, I think the best results from your network happen when your networking is ongoing and proactive. If you are just starting your network when you are about to apply to for an internship. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start (any time is a good time to start) but I’ve found some of my best results from relationships that I’ve had time to develop at least a little. (FYI – Here are some of my networking tips)

 

Target your focus

After you’ve done your research, done your networking and know what you want to do, it’s helpful to design a targeted list of companies where you’d want to end up. This will help you when you’re trying to apply to internships to know where to look for and where to start. While I think it’s important to target, it’s also important to keep an open mind and to also play the numbers game. The focus should always be on the internships and jobs you are most interested in, but having a backup plan is not a bad thing.

 

Leave No Stone Unturned

There are formal ways of finding and applying to internship and job opportunities, either if you are a student (on-campus interview and off-campus interviewing) or if you a professional (LinkedIn, job boards, etc) as well as less formal ones (via friends of friends, through your own networking efforts, etc) but I found a good approach is to evaluate all the options that are available to you.

For me, I as an MBA student I relied on off-campus recruiting efforts and regularly checked the

websites of the companies I was interested in as well as the various job boards. (Pro Tip:Setup alerts on searches for specific roles to get notifications) I also was in contact with a number of friends and colleagues at companies I was interested in, keeping them abreast of my progress and also inquiring from time to time if they had heard of any potential opportunities.

Finally, when it came time to apply for a posting, I would check my targeted companies list to see if I knew of anyone in my network who worked there. In most cases, I knew of at least 1-2 people at all of those companies, and before I applied I would reach out to my contacts to inform them I was applying and to ask for any advice they would have for me.

In most cases, people were very happy to respond to A) give me advice and B) in some cases, even offered to put in referrals. In a number of cases, my contacts even connected me either to the recruiter or the team directly who was hiring. These were valuable as they helped me get through the initial screening of the application process. While it was still on me to do the legwork from there, my network was a huge booster in helping me get my resume read and in front of the right people at companies I was applying to.

 

Prep, Prep, Prep

Submitting an application and getting an interview is great, but you still need to perform in an interview! To make sure I could nail my interviews I did prep work before and after interviews. My prep work consisted of:

  • Reviewing my notes from phone calls of people that worked at that company
  • Researching recent events of the company in the news
  • Reading Glassdoor for comments on the interview process, culture, and general sentiment of the company
  • Reviewing the website to understand their strategy, vision and mission, and learning the “company lingo” so I could make sure I was going to talk in a tone that resonated with their culture
  • Coming up with a list of questions i thought the interviewer would ask me, and then developing answers to those questions and refining my answers through practice
  • Developing a list of questions that I wanted to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview

 

I did this for almost all of the companies I interviewed at, which took a lot of time and effort. However, I also felt like I performed well in the interviews and was very well prepared, so I think it was worth the effort.

Remember your priorities

At some point, you will get an offer (congratulations!) and in some cases, you might have multiple offers! The best opportunity is going to be the one that most closely aligns with your priorities that you set for yourself. Go back to that list of priorities you developed and evaluate the offers against the priorities that you set for yourself. At a basic level, I think it helps to write out on paper perhaps the pros and cons, or benefits and opportunities, and then to evaluate those against what priorities you have for yourself.

Conclusion

As you can see above, here are the results of my journey. When it was all said and done, there were 5 companies I was really really excited about, I got interviews at 4 of them, got final rounds at 2 of them, and ended up with an offer at 1 of them. It was a long journey (started in September, ended in May) but I ultimately was able to find an internship that matched my priorities and interests.

Finding and obtaining an internship or job is a challenging but exciting process. It’s also a great way to learn about yourself, reflect on what you want to do with your life, and understand what your value proposition is to a company. There are a lot of great ways to get an internship and I’m happy to share what worked for me in hopes that it helps you find the right internship for you.

 

Additional Sources: