Posted Aug 29, 2013

The Lovely Summer Intern Recap, part 2

We’re back with another rousing rendition of the Lovely Summer Intern Recap! They may be included in part two, but these interns have been second to none. Hear about their experiences at Lovely below and if what they describe sounds like something you’d like to try out for yourself, check out the available opportunities at Lovely and get in touch to let us know why you’d be a good fit!

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Name: Yang Xiang
Position: Back end Engineering Intern
Age: 21
Hometown: Berkeley via San Diego via Tucson via Davis via Kunming, China
School: UC Berkeley

What was your main focus during your internship?
I was charged with gathering all the raw data we get from our data partners, taking the files they give us and parsing and extracting that data to turn it into a presentable format for our site. I also did a little basic front end work and helped implement an interface that allows for a more user friendly way of interacting with phone extensions. The front work work was a nice change of pace, but I personally like back end better because with back end either something works or doesn’t work, whereas with front end the results are subjective.

What was a typical day at Lovely like for you?
Here’s the play-by-play; I’d walk in, sit down, put my jacket over my chair. Then, I’d walk into the kitchen, grab some water or drop off my lunch, check Asana for my updated tasks (or Sam would just tell me because I’m bad at checking emails) and then I would get to work on the most pressing tasks. When I hit a dead end or needed a break I would take a quick walk outside to spark some ideas. Also, I ate a lot of Lovely’s food (see photo above for a glimpse of Yang in action).

How was working at a startup different from other work experiences?
My previous experience was working at a company of about 700 people and although we were divided into smaller teams, things still moved much more slowly than at Lovely. I was never sure if the work I was doing would ever really be used, however at Lovely, I saw my work implemented almost immediately. Working at a startup comes with longer hours than my previous work experience, but time flies by because you’re always busy and something new always comes up. It’s also a pretty chill environment and you get to know everyone which was cool and very different from what I had experienced at previous internships. It was nice to interact with different teams at the company and see firsthand what everyone is working on. Also, I loved the team meetings because they left me feeling so motivated after seeing what big goals everyone is working toward and the progress made every week.

What was the most interesting thing you learned during your internship?
At past internships I would get distracted very quickly and my legs would get extremely fidgety but I always attributed this to having bad focus. I tried doing pomodoro techniques and other tactics to improve my focus but nothing seemed to work. When I came to Lovely, I didn’t experience these focus problems at all and learned that maybe it’s the subject matter of your work that keeps you on your toes. I was much more engaged with my work and as a result, was more capable of working for longer periods of time.

What was your favorite part about being an intern at Lovely?
The fact that I didn’t feel a major distinction or gap in hierarchy among team members because the company organization is very flat. I also really enjoyed the team dynamic and getting to know everyone in the office; it was really easy to get along with everyone.

What advice would you give to future interns?
This may sound cheesy, but I would tell future interns there’s always a way to do what you need to do, and if you’re ever feeling frustrated you just have to keep trying or ask for help. Never give up, anything is possible given enough thought and determination.

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Name: John Haarer
Position: Business Development Intern
Age: 21
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
School: University of Michigan

What was your main focus during your internship?
I helped out with the entire sales process from research, lead generation and calling prospects, to scheduling and conducting demos. I joined the team at a time when we were first still honing a long term sales strategy so it was a great experience to be part of establishing the groundwork.

What was a typical day at Lovely like for you?
My days really changed depending on my priorities week-to-week which was nice to have variety in my daily schedule. For a couple weeks, my days started early making sales calls to the east coast. Other weeks were spent attending open houses and meeting with property managers and landlords around SF, talking to renters and getting feedback on their experience looking for an apartment. Other days were spent on lead generation, researching prospects, testing efficacy of emails, and measuring the team’s progress.

How was working at a startup different from other work experiences?
I had experience working in higher education which is a much slower moving industry. The projects I was working had been proposed five years ago, but at Lovely there is a dramatically quicker turnaround from idea to implementation.I did have one other experience at a startup at a very early stage company and smaller team, but working at Lovely was a really unique experience because the team already shipped an amazing product and was now focused on growing the company; it was a really cool to experience that time in the lifecycle of a company. Also, I loved working in the heart of SoMa and the hub of the startup community where you might meet someone dealing with the same kind of problems you are facing and have lessons from their own experiences to share.

What was the most interesting thing you learned during your internship?
I learned the art of the in person cold call when attending open houses. It made for some awkward instances but was such a good learning experience getting out of my comfort zone and conversing with so many different personalities.

What was your favorite part about being an intern at Lovely?
I appreciate that everyone on the team is really genuine. As an intern interviewing at a lot of companies, you hear often that team members are all friends and get along but that is completely true here. There is a great balance between having fun together and focusing on getting work done.

What advice would you give to future interns?
Take advantage of the fact you’re in an amazing learning environment and don’t underestimate people’s willingness to help. Your teammates are not only invested in getting value from you being there, but making sure you get value out of the experience as well. Also, think critically about every task you’re assigned even if it seems like busy work and give yourself time to think about how you approach every project.

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Name: Christian Ting
Position: Marketing Intern
Age: 22
Hometown: Danville, CA
School: UC Berkeley

What was your main focus during your internship?
I was responsible for managing Lovely’s social media channels, including developing unique content and measuring engagement. I learned a lot about the best ways to engage with users, renters, landlords and other brands via social media and it was great to immerse myself in Lovely’s brand voice.

What was a typical day at Lovely like for you?
I was notorious for running into many commuting misfortunes including BART strikes, delays and getting stuck underground, but barring any public transit nightmares I would make it into the office and start my day by monitoring Hootsuite, which became a very close friend of mine. I would monitor for relevant news stories and conversations throughout the day and think about how best to engage where it made sense. I tried to put myself in renters’ shoes and be empathetic to the stress they may be feeling as they searched for a new apartment. For the most part, people were very accessible on Twitter and grateful to us for offering a solution for their hunt. I also conducted a lot of regional market research and became very familiar with the rental market in major cities across the country, as well as the media landscape in each of them.

How was working at a startup different from other work experiences?
My previous work experiences were primarily in administrative contexts, working in various departments on my university’s campus where the nature of my work felt very impersonal. At a startup my role felt as organic as the yogurt that was provided in the Lovely kitchen. I received a lot of encouragement from my fellow workers; everyone was extremely accessible and made me feel like my work was valued and that I was respected, which was a departure from my previous work experience.

What was the most interesting thing you learned during your internship?
I learned two very important things in the world of communications from Elizabeth: evergreen and embargo. I can say I am coming away from this experience with a great understanding of the role of marketing/communications and strategic tactics employed in the field.

I also feel like I can give expert advice on apartment design now! If anyone needs tips on where to find furniture that is of appropriate scale for your apartment, just let me know.

What was your favorite part about being an intern at Lovely?
Being able to interact with all members of the team. The office went through many different configurations while I was here so I had access to a lot of different people. Plus, the lounge area in the office is straight out of a catalog and having dogs around is a great stress reliever; they definitely live up to their title as wellness coordinators.

What advice would you give to future interns?
Believe in yourself and in your worth. Sometimes interns can sell themselves short and think that just because they are the most junior person on the team they’re expendable. If you come with a good attitude and and ready to work hard you’ll thrive in any internship. Also, be flexible and keep an open mind because things at a startup may change daily.

About

Elizabeth is the Communications & Marketing Lead at Lovely where she helps spread the word about Lovely's mission far and wide. She loves corgis, Beyonce and helping renters enjoy the best possible experience in their homes.

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