Archive for the ‘ Misc. ’ Category

Free Food and Foosball–Not Your Typical Summer Internship

Last April, I rang Xobni’s doorbell, wondering if my interview with Jeff Bonforte (the CEO) would be persuasive enough to secure a summer job. The essay I had written a few weeks prior at his request had clearly made an impression, but I wasn’t prepared for the job offer I received after only a few minutes in the room. While I had interviews and offers from a few other companies, Xobni felt different. At the time I had no idea how much I would learn about the inner-workings of a startup, but the interesting products, along with the experienced and hospitable people were a draw. And yes, free food and transportation made the choice much more palatable (pardon the tongue in cheek humor).

Fast forward two months, and I was once again knocking on Xobni’s door–this time to start work. I had limited programming experience, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I was put to work doing engaging and meaningful projects for my entire 6 week internship.

I began the summer by conducting detailed technical research and experimentation on various platforms, discovering constraints and loopholes for Xobni to manipulate in future features and products. This line of inquiry led me to investigate briefly the complex and sometimes-frustrating world of Objective-C and the iOS SDK, stretching my meager programming skills to their limit. I also did several competitive analysis projects as new rivals appeared on the scene. As I eased into life at Xobni, I also found myself exploring user-experience design–specifically where behind-the-scenes processes intersect ease-of-use and front-facing interfaces.

Throughout the summer, I was able to attend and participate in many product meetings. At the beginning, I merely observed goings-on, but by watching experienced professionals I was able to pick up tricks of the trade, such as comparing design trade-offs or prioritization of features. As the weeks went on, these tips allowed me to participate in discussions and heated debates, especially where my areas of research were concerned, and eventually conduct my own presentations and meetings.

While these experiences were extremely interesting, the best part of my job came when I was invited to get involved in the development of a project still in its infancy. initially, the CEO sat the team down and gave us a deadline of two weeks to finish Version One. Taking his vision to reality in that time frame seemed impossible, but through careful planning, delegation, and hours of hard work we were able to create a minimum viable product that blew away even Jeff Bonforte’s high standards. Over the course of the project, I learned about the basics of project management, the importance of frequent and detailed communication, and the value of “good enough” in a market where time is of the essence. While we did exert extreme effort, part of what energized us was the ability to take occasional breaks and let loose, playing killer foosball or rough-housing with Zoe, the company dog. This intense, yet fun-loving atmosphere and never-ending passion for this line of work fueled the sustained desire to be industrious for extended periods of time.

This summer I had the privilege to immerse myself in life at a well-managed startup. I conducted and applied interesting research, witnessed vigorous product design debates, and worked with knowledgeable colleagues who generously shared valuable wisdom about their area of expertise. Xobni invested significantly to make my summer meaningful, and I can safely say they succeeded. I not only learned about the topics I investigated, but I also acquired many skills necessary to be successful in a startup work environment–or any other work environment for that matter. While I will no longer knock on Xobni’s door every morning, the memories and lessons of my time there will come with me wherever I go. I can’t thank them enough for all I learned, the relationships I forged, and the fun I had.

P.S.: This post wouldn’t be complete without a shameless plug to go sign up for Xobni. They offer an amazing platform for keeping track of relationships across your address book, email and social media. You can learn more at their website (www.xobni.com), or download their apps and extensions from the App Store®, Google Play®, the Chrome Web Store®, or their website.

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I’m Back + News

Don’t worry, I have not been as active as I normally am, but I have taken a little break to rethink how I will write this blog. While there are many interesting articles to read out there, I have decided it is not in my best interest to just link to them. From now on this site will only contain original content from me. Due to my other journalistic obligations, all of my articles will have originally been posted on my other websites (linked in my About page). Hope you will appreciate this change

-Brad

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