By Gabrielle Richie
Preface from Dave:
Gabby is the “accidental intern.” We met her when we were doing some customer discovery interviews at her campus. She heard what we were doing and immediately “got it.” Then she followed up on her own! She reached out to us. We gave her little tasks to do and she always performed with an enthusiastic attitude.
If there was a “sweet spirited kindness meter” in our office, it would jump when she walks in the door. We’re focusing on gratitude in the coming weeks. She exemplified this in a way that most interns could learn from. She startled me one day when I gave her feedback after an assignment. She is the first person who said something like this: “Thanks for the feedback. That really helps me understand how to do better next time.” My advice: learn that skill. She was not defensive. She did not make any excuses. She was strong enough and mature enough to accept constructive feedback as something positive that would actually help her. I don’t even remember what the issue was, but I do remember her positive attitude!
Here’s Her Story:
Your dream job does exist, even if you have to create it yourself. In my case, I was fortunate enough to land a ideal internship at the startup that Dave Barrs created. My journey of becoming an intern here at thryver has a few twists and turns. Keep reading to hear how I got here, what I’ve learned and why I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my summer.
During the spring semester of my junior year in college, I was furiously filling out every human resources internship application I could get my hands on– or at least the ones with the biggest names. COX, RaceTrac, UPS. I was so anxious about being chosen that I didn’t even take time to stop and realize what the internships entailed. Can you believe that I never considered what I’d actually be doing at whatever internship brought me on? I’ll reluctantly admit (because I know I’m not alone), that I looked forward to that big name impressing another future employer more than to the job itself. The last thing on my mind was how I’d fit into and make a lasting impression on the company that employed me. My attitude completely changed when I arrived at Thryver.
Rejected by each and every internship I applied for, I was convinced that I must be out of my league. As a rising senior at the flagship university of my state, I still had no internship or office-related work experience to speak of. I couldn’t possibly compete with my classmates or counterparts in this ever-expanding, increasingly exclusive job market. But now, I recognize that even if that’s all true, it’s not such a bad thing.
When I caught a break between Spring semester finals and internship applications, I kept in touch with Dave. We had met during an intercept interview at my school, and I was immediately intrigued by thryver’s concept. I was overwhelmed by the expectations that I had set for myself– those that had started as my friends, but had slowly became my own. The concept of identifying and utilizing strengths that are inherent and unique to me gave me relief from the pressure I put on myself to measure up to everyone else. After this chance meeting, I was inspired by the idea of living according to one’s own capabilities. My friend also participated in the interview, and Dave’s simple speech actually brought her to tears. I was excited to help thryver grow in any small way I could. I thought that this would include a little more feedback, or maybe just moral support. A few months after our first conversation, Dave offered me a summer internship position. I happily accepted.
I’d like to share three main lessons and skills I’ve picked up since my first day as a thryver summer intern.
1. The clock is ticking: Seconds quickly become Summers.
“Self-starters” usually have the most success in academia, business and even athletics. This is because motivation is something that not even the fattest paycheck can buy– it’s a skill that must be practiced. I got plenty of practice this summer, working from home for the first time in my life. Since we’re still a pretty small startup, deadlines aren’t very strict, but creative brainpower is probably a little more important than at the average internship. This works for me because I scored much higher in “Artistic Creating” than “Realistic Doing” on the thryver Strengths Profile. However, it was still important that I set myself a schedule and stick to it. It took some getting used to, but the sense of accomplishment becomes motivation in itself.
2. Every individual must pull their own weight.
Everyone has something different to contribute to the team. That’s why there isn’t just one type of thryver intern or employee. Each team member must learn their strengths and use them efficiently, or the entire group falls behind. It’s like pulling the same rope in a tug of war. We’re pulling against time, budgets and an unforgiving marketplace. Even though Dave makes the executive decisions. Everyone gets a say in the process.
3. Be afraid of the right things: Be more afraid of letting others down than them disappointing you.
Our dreams are worth chasing, particularly when they center on service and a chance to help someone else. Abandoning your calling may make you miserable, but it can also mean suffering for other people. Invest in endeavors that enrich your life by allowing you to reap what you sow.
thryver taught me to value myself as a worker, and appreciate my unique contributions to the company’s development process. During our feedback gathering process, I was able to offer inside information on how and where to contact students at the University I attend. Since I was introduced to the company as a potential consumer, I experienced both sides of intercept interviewing. Dave didn’t only allow me to offer my advice on how to approach and intrigue students, but he depended on it.
In addition, I learned to work with a team with backgrounds as diverse as their strengths. The co-workers I worked with most often were Tali and Kevin. We all have vastly different strengths and weaknesses. The best way to describe our team is dynamic. Tali is very thoughtful, and creative in a very structured kind of way. Kevin is very straightforward and decisive. He appreciates concrete progress, and a good meal. We can always count on him to remind us of the goal of our brainstorming, and suggest an early lunch. I’m very imaginative, detail-oriented and somewhat of a perfectionist. Tali and Kevin might describe me as an idealist. Because my ideas are so vivid, I don’t have a problem speaking up about them. Dave has a combination of all these qualities. He’s very creative, of course but is pretty laid back about deadlines. Our meetings usually go something like this: I’m thinking out loud the entire time, Tali is hoarding all her brilliant ideas until her turn to speak, Dave begins brainstorming about ideas for the next few months and Kevin answers a few of our comments with cold, hard facts and proceeds to corral us all back to the topic immediately at hand.
I consider myself privileged to have had the opportunity to work at a company where I can relate to the mission of the founder, and the needs of the users. Now I can’t imagine trading my contributions at thryver for a summer of copying paperwork and delivering coffee. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with hard work. However, working hard for goals I value is much more important than working for the validation of society at large.
My internship at thryver has challenged me to think outside the box, and to work outside my comfort zone. This short summer, I learned that it’s important for me to plan college around my life, instead of my life around college. I’m so happy that Thryver inspires other students to do the same.