The age-old adage goes that the best things in life happen unexpectedly. While I am hoping that my freshman year internship isn’t the peak, I can confidently say that my summer at Bold Xchange has fundamentally altered how I approach life.
This may sound like a “bold” (no pun intended) statement, but it is as genuine as can be. Two months is a surprisingly sufficient period of time to change deeply-held opinions on my potential career(s), attitude towards school, friends etc.
To be precise, it wasn’t necessarily the actual work I produced at Bold Xchange that impacted me greatly; instead, it encompassed the experiences I shared with team members like Doug Spencer (Co-founder), Danielle Deavens (Co-founder), & Edgar Guillen (UX Developer) that made my summer. Most of my learning occurred through the day-long chats I would share with Doug in the office, woots & toots team calls on Friday mornings, or the Seoul Taco runs for burritos.
For the purposes of showing the readers of this blog that I did, in fact, complete tangible work, I will explain my primary project before sharing my overall lessons: Bold Xchange is a corporate gifting startup that has partnered with 13 Fortune 500 companies to date, and I was tasked with creating a new marketing website for our rebrand. At the time, we needed a new logo, new website, and were in the process of developing a new app to streamline shipping. As a result, the new website needed to reflect what had been a year-long transition from the company’s previous image.
When Doug first mentioned to me a week into the internship that I was to lead the website development, I must admit, I was a little taken aback. I was intimidated to have been offered so much responsibility from the very beginning, but looking back on the experience, I am grateful he trusted me with the job. Being forced to take ownership of a project pushed me to perform in addition to adding a meaningful connection to my work. Many long hours were spent trying to figure out the Webflow, the platform Bold Xchange had chosen to develop the new marketing site. In the end, the time invested in trial and error ultimately led to both a greater final product and a greater sense of pride.
1) “The Power of Moments”
The funny story behind this lesson is that it came from one of the books I took from the office shelf. This book, written by well-known Stanford Professor Dan Heath and his brother, discusses the importance of building powerful moments in our lives and the lives of others. A memorable part of the book is when the authors discuss how people often remember their 20s & 30s as the best years of their lives because so many new experiences are occurring. They posit, however, that the rest of one’s life can be just as exciting if an active effort is made to create new moments.
2) Sales & Networking equate simply to building relationships
Coming into freshman year, I heard the word networking and never quite understood what it meant. The concept of networking always had a superficial ring and I never felt comfortable at “networking” events. Come summer, I was hired to Bold Xchange as a Sales & Marketing intern. I thought I was going to be shooting out emails & cold calling to make sales, but I was so wrong. As I saw my founders pulling in deals, I realized “sales” very often equated to simply a fun conversation with a random person connected via a warm introduction. Two times while in the office, I saw Doug pull in funding from a call that wasn’t meant to be an investment-related call. As a result of this summer, I see business largely as an interaction of relationships between people, more than something tangibly teachable.
3) Don’t turn in sloppy work
I learned this lesson the hard way with my last project on Bold Xchange. It wasn’t even so much that I had meant to turn in bad work, simply that I think my standards were lower than what one of my co-founders expected. The project was an animated video to encompass what Bold Xchange does for the new marketing site I had previously been working on. When I had sent the draft to one of the founders, I quickly received feedback that it was not up-to-par and some tough, but constructive comments on how to improve. The final product, which is now available on our website, is a massive improvement; and as a result, I was much more proud of my work as well.
You never know where great experiences can come from, and I am incredibly happy I chose to partake in the St. Louis Entrepreneurial Fellowship this summer with Bold Xchange. Looking forward to seeing where this promising startup goes!!