In the past, I’ve interned for companies with a focused product and specific growth challenges around which they’re trying to work. But during my summer (2018) internship with YoGov, a government concierge company focused on simplifying DMV processes, I experienced new interesting problems and strategies I had never encountered before. I started at a crucial moment when the company was struggling to keep many of their promises, one being 24×7 customer support. The company’s key focus was to be customer-centric but lacked a dedicated team to meet that goal. Throughout my 10 week internship, I spent half of my time on customer support and internal business processes.
This article is intended to help you understand the diversity in the responsibilities of a Product Management intern. It also highlights some important takeaways and tools that can help you prepare for a PM internship and add a lot of value to your team and the company.
During those 10 weeks, the company’s revenues grew by 5x, we launched a new product, expanded to 3 new states, and changed our focus product and branding. It was indeed a rollercoaster – I’ve learned a lot and also reaffirmed my belief in many of my opinions about business strategy and sustainable growth. Here are my top takeaways:
- The definition of customer centricity changes drastically between a B2B (business between two companies) and a B2C (business between a company and an individual customer) company. Customer Centricity in a B2B firm is focused a lot more on building personal relationships and meeting their needs, but the scale of customers in a B2C firm makes it impossible to build personal relationships.
- Companies should work toward building helpful content. Examples would be pages designed to assist customers’ smaller needs and/or a customer support channel that is personalized, empathetic, and prompt while being clear about the promises they’re making.
- Dedicated teams/team members that focus on one part of the service are important. People working in startups tend to work on everything. But that is an inefficient strategy. Startups must allocate team members that ‘own’ a part of the service so that they become experts in evaluating the complexity associated with it. They must collaborate and help each other as necessary, but everybody focusing on everything only leads to chaos.
- Personally, I found that owning a project and the responsibility attached to it was motivating as an intern. Strategically dividing up projects doesn’t discourage collaboration. Instead, it encourages further teamwork by increasing team synergy and personal autonomy.
- Strengthen your intuition. A lot of founders and successful CEOs say that we should follow our intuition. But intuition is informed by different factors. It can be your previous knowledge, your experiences, your interests, your observations, or something else that has synced with the needs of the situation. Being informed about your industry and your stakeholders leads to better intuition and problem-solving aptitude. Here are a few steps you could take:
- Subscribe to important newsletters in your industry and read them regularly.
- Be part of important slack groups, facebook groups, and communities of interns/professionals in your industry.
- Follow important leaders of your industry on LinkedIn and Medium, and read their articles regularly.
- Take regular notes, write down your daily To-Do’s and import ideas that come to your mind: I have definitely reaffirmed my belief in writing things down by hand. It’s a lot more stimulating for my brain to write with my hand than typing on a keyboard. I have been able to come up with many new ideas, some of which were very simple in the beginning. It initiates the process of quick reiteration in my brain which is helpful in a fast-growing startup where ideas only take seconds to implement.