Throughout the summer, Skandalaris Center Summer Internship Program participants will be writing guest blog posts about their internship experience. Following is one such post.
An Unpredictable Venture into the Startup Ecosystem
By Laura Glanz (LA ’21)
A couple months ago, I applied to the Skandalaris Center’s Summer Internship Program with the hopes of exploring an entrepreneurial pursuit and gaining some real-world experience. Now, with a couple days of the internship remaining, I can reflect upon these past ten weeks – the unpredictable and unique opportunity I had to both assume new responsibilities and recalibrate my own ambitions, values, and professional goals.
My name is Laura Glanz, and I am a rising junior at Washington University in St. Louis. Majoring in International & Area Studies and Marketing, I have been able to apply my interests in writing, media, and creative content to help FocalCast further leverage their brand and maintain continued growth. FocalCast (https://www.focalcast.io/) is a tech startup based in TREX, a colorful co-working space in downtown St. Louis. Using proprietary technology, the company has created a web-based method for businesses to conduct virtual market research on any device from any location. Its integration of live communication and documentation allows for seamless qualitative research, thereby transforming and simplifying the way companies can test their brands, products, and innovations.
Over the course of the internship, I led a number of marketing, branding, and design efforts. My main task was to update the company’s public facing website in regard to its content, structure, and design. I also managed FocalCast’s social media outbound, coordinated media/press opportunities, created blog posts and other content pieces, designed sales material, and am now completing videos for a client onboarding workflow.
While I had a set of projects and goals from the get-go, every day was different from the next. As new tasks and questions arose, my boss, Devin Turner, conveyed to me the reality of “startup insanity.” Entrepreneurs often do not have a cookie-cutter guide or explanation for how to tackle new responsibilities, which can result in a fast-paced environment, a whole lot of problem-solving, and a huge amount of teamwork. Embodying this mentality, I set out to create my own taskforce this summer that combined key players such as: proactivity, learning on the fly, and in-depth research. In addition to adopting the hard skills of optimizing designs, navigating different software tools, and creating captivating posts, I ended up learning a lot about myself as well as the startup world.
I learned to never apologize unnecessarily and that, according to my boss, everyone should work for a startup at least once. I learned that Burger King’s Impossible Whopper is decent though my co-workers Devin and Jillian would beg to differ. I learned that St. Louis has an unparalleled ecosystem of entrepreneurship and that WashU students have a great opportunity to engage with exciting innovation and inspiring thought leaders right at their fingertips. I learned the importance of working for a company that creates value and exemplifies core values. I became in tune with my commitment to developing meaningful relationships and realized how frequent discussions with my boss about the day’s news, social issues, or the economy could facilitate an authentic company culture, synthesize my current work with my personal and academic interests, and allow me to see entrepreneurship as a mechanism to do something about what is happening in the world.
My internship this summer has pushed me to face unique challenges, meet influential individuals, and learn a myriad of lessons. While the everchanging nature of the startup world made each day’s work different and uncertain, my experience was incredibly clarifying. I am grateful to have ventured into this ecosystem, and I am excited to continue exploring.
FocalCast’s Social Media:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/focalcast?lang=en
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/narsys-llc/
My LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-glanz-257631162/