A Chance Meeting on a Train Helped Launch My Career
Part of a series about the best and worst internships we’ve ever had.
Most people spend hours pouring over Craigslist, LinkedIn, and other job listing sites trying to find an internship. I found mine riding the train.
I spent the previous summer picking up dirty dishes in an airport sky lounge to earn flight benefits so I could jet set across the country. On my way home from a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C., I serendipitously began a conversation on the train with Doug Granville, a salesman for a startup company called Scoutmob. This led to an internship that completely changed the direction of my life.
I was part of the third group of interns Scoutmob brought on since the startup was founded in 2010, and there was still not a lot of structure to the internship. It was a great experience, because it forced me to take action and risks. If I wanted to take part in a project, I had to go after it and make it happen. No one was going to hold my hand. Startups don’t work like that.
Despite being told in my interview that they didn’t need any help with writing at the time, I pitched my story ideas to the editors, and lo and behold, they said yes. I carved out my storytelling niche, and I got to spend more of my time running around to interview businesses, and snapping photos with a fancy camera. For an aspiring young wordsmith like myself, it was bliss.
But I don’t think it was just the tasks I accomplished that made the experience so fulfilling. It was a feeling and a sense of belonging. It starts to sound a little kooky when you start talking about feelings and the workplace in the same sentence, but I think it’s just part of the startup lifestyle. I felt inspired walking into the office everyday. Each person on the team (there were about 42 on the team, including myself) had a unique set of traits and talents, and I felt like I belonged. A lot of companies—especially in a more corporate setting—can belittle interns and give them tasks like coffee duty, or carrying boxes. At Scoutmob, scouterns (as we were lovingly called) were in on the team conference calls every other week, and our opinions mattered.
I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to have worked for such brilliant and beautiful people. I didn’t just gain resume experience at Scoutmob—it led to freelance work with them when the semester ended. I ended up with some amazing mentors who encouraged me to follow my dreams all the way to Berlin, where I am currently interning and learning from more great minds at a startup called Gidsy.
These types of internships are highly coveted, because who doesn’t want to be surrounded by incredibly smart and talented young entrepreneurs at a company invested in by a high profile celebrity? It’s glamorous, but it’s also hard work. We are creating something we believe in, and the people we work with are more than simply co-workers. They are comrades, and teammates. In life, it’s always about the people. I’m in it for the relationships and the people, as much as for the product. The product is nothing without the people behind it.
Some people put in their time at an internship, sign some papers, and head on their merry way. That’s fine and great for them, but it doesn’t work like that for me. My internships at Scoutmob and Gidsy have changed my life, and the people I have had the opportunity to work with at these companies are not just new LinkedIn contacts for me. They are people I look up to, trust, and admire, and I feel comfortable reaching out to them when I need advice, or a recommendation. They are an irreversible part of my story, and I can only hope that others are as lucky to have internship experiences like mine. I have no advice for how to find them, as the great things in my life are usually found not by looking, but by living. It’s all about being open to changing your plans along the way and having a heart for the adventure of it all.
You never know who you’re going to sit next to on the train.
Have an interesting internship story you’d like to submit to us? Send it on over.
Abby Carney recently graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s in Journalism, and where she ran cross country/track. She has reported on sports and entertainment throughout college for the student publication The Signal, and her work has appeared in Daily Candy, Scoutmob, VentureVillage, and more. She is passionately curious, and dedicated to making everyday an adventure. Photo: TechCrunch