Reflections from our 2018 Interns
Hard to believe, but summer is rapidly coming to a close. And with that, we must say goodbye to another amazing set of summer interns at ThinkShout. As a quick recap, ThinkShout works in partnership with ELI (Emerging Leaders Internship) program; which works to connect minority and underrepresented youth to professional opportunities in Portland. It’s a partnership we hold in high regard, and just like last year, we found over the course of the summer that both the interns and ThinkShout staff had profound experiences.
This year, we had our interns work on a number of projects. From getting their hands dirty in building websites we’re working on for international nonprofits, to creating a new site on Bene for the Street Trust (to be revealed at a later date!). They made open source contributions and brought fresh ideas to Bene that will benefit all organizations on the platform long-term. They participated in our discovery process, offered strategic solutions, and lent their design skills to a number of projects and efforts to promote our ThinkShout Cares fundraiser. We truly couldn’t have imagined this summer without them!
We asked our interns to tell us in their own words what the last few months have been like for them. Here’s what they had to say:
What has this internship been like for you?
Sadiyah: My internship at Thinkshout has been one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so much the few weeks that we have been here. I have never been so excited to wake up early in the morning and commute to work. Everyone on the team was really welcoming and encouraging and the overall experience was just amazing.
Naily: Without a doubt, interning at ThinkShout this summer has been one the most impactful experiences of my life. With each passing day, I took in valuable information that not only helped me develop technical skills, but influenced my life goals. Most of all, this summer has been a demonstration that with continuous drive and passion, nothing is out of reach.
Kiele: Three words: eye-opening, informational and inconceivable (for my Princess Bride fans out there).
How did this internship differ from what you were expecting?
Sadiyah: When I was first matched with ThinkShout through the ELI program, I was a little worried that I would not get past the interview because I didn’t know any PHP. When I got the internship, I was still a little apprehensive and worried that I would not be able to keep up. Fortunately, the team had great documentation and specs for all the tasks we were assigned and I was able to get my work done easily (and I learned some PHP too!). I also had the support of Amy (the best manager that I could ever ask for), she motivated me to try new things and always encouraged me whenever she saw me struggling.
Naily: Before working at ThinkShout, I was unaware of how impactful the company culture is in regards to the employee experience. Because of this, I expected the ThinkShout company culture to be similar to past work environments. Fortunately, I could not have been more wrong! I was pleasantly surprised to see that the company’s culture fostered learning, personal growth, and social/environmental consciousness. This completely aligned with my personal values, and thus helped me thrive during this internship.
Kiele: Well first off, I didn’t expect the company culture to be so relaxed. When I thought of this job, I thought of like an agency where everyone wore suits and dresses and got little to no sleep. For context, my dad works for a very well known tech company, and he’s incredibly overworked. The expectations are forever higher than what can be produced…but here, ThinkShout cares about their employee’s lives because if they aren’t happy or well rested, they can’t do their job efficiently. Going to a place where the employees want the best for each other, for them to take days off if they need it, not work weekends or evenings is unimaginable in my mind. But it exists!
What have you learned (could be about coding, about yourself, about agency life)?
Sadiyah: I learned how important company culture is. I was introduced to a world where everyone wanted the best for each other and supported one another to grow and learn. Seeing this made me really excited about coming to work and made me want to contribute back to the team as much as I could.
Naily: Perhaps one of the most valuable things I learned this summer was how small scale actions can create large scale change. For example, I assisted in the implementation of a website for a non-profit that uplifts women in areas of conflict. Though creating a website is not directly related to what some may consider social work, the website will ultimately help the organization gain more exposure, credibility, as well as donations; resulting in progress toward global and social change. Thus, the work we do and the action we take — no matter how big or small — always contributes to larger solutions.
Kiele: I’ve learned how to use applications like Sketch, gained practice with project management sites, learned the process of creating a website within a company, gained technical skills in Adobe software, but the largest learning experience revolved around myself.
With my upcoming graduation in December, I questioned whether or not I would be ready for the world outside academia. Will I be proficient enough in design to be able to get a job before or close to graduation? Do I have enough experience under my belt to be a successful designer? Do I have the inherent talent to even be a designer? And my answers to all of those are now an emphatic yes. I never believed my professors when they told me I will have no problem getting a job and that I’m talented. It wasn’t until I began creating and designing at ThinkShout that I realized I have what it takes. I’m still learning, but I should always be learning and striving to figure out a better way of doing something. I learned that the best way to succeed is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations so that you can learn, grow, and become a better person from that experience.
What have you enjoyed most about this summer internship?
Sadiyah: I really enjoyed the fact that we were able to work on and contribute to real, significant projects. Thinkshout allowed us to explore and learn as interns, while also giving us responsibilities just like the full time developers here. We were able to sit in on meetings and also have our voices heard.
Naily: One of my favorite aspects of this internship was the opportunity to develop strong relationships with and learn from the experiences of ThinkShout employees. Throughout the summer, I met with employees one-on-one to discuss their career journey, as well as my long term aspirations. Everyone at ThinkShout has worked so diligently to get to where they are today, and it was a huge honor to speak with and receive insight from all the talented professionals. Thank you for an amazing summer!
Kiele: Can I put everything as my answer? Genuinely, I’ve been excited to come to work (even though my commute would be between 3-4 hours a day) because my coworkers are so kind and loving, and even the clients are fun and they’re so excited to see their websites transformed! The most touching thing is my coworkers have seen my work, have seen that this millennial is rising to the challenge with every project, and they believe in me and what I’m capable of. In demonstrating my value, I’m not really seen as an intern here. I’m seen as a coworker that others can go to for assistance and that’s an amazing feeling.
I will miss working here because the people here have honestly become individuals I can go to for advice, people I can laugh with and learn from. My manager, Jessica Tate, has become a friend of mine whom I look forward to spending time with after my internship ends, which is something I never expected.
Use a gif to summarize your internship experience: