December 13, 2018

Internships Outside Field of Study Are Majorly Underrated

Timothy Nguyen ActivTrak Intern

Hello! I’m Tim, and I have the distinction of being the very first ActivTrak intern. In the summer of 2018, I worked and learned on the sales side of the company.  As a 2nd year marketing major at The University of Texas at Dallas, my focus and interest in school have been in, well, marketing.  However, a marketing-focused internship was not at the forefront of my plans for this summer.

I took the initiative to step into a sales-focused internship after taking a sales course. That really developed my interest in sales. Initially, I was unsure of my decision. It is a common practice just to pursue an internship that encompasses your major.

However, I wanted internship experience in something not related to my major. I was curious and keen to apply myself to experience a world other than marketing. With my tenure at ActivTrak now complete, I can confidently say my time here as a sales intern has been nothing short of amazing. To anyone else considering an internship, I have three reasons why you should consider interning in a field outside your major.

1. Experience with a different career path

I had the opportunity to learn and operate fully as a sales development representative. Not only that, but I discovered what a career in sales could look like for me. I have learned that I absolutely enjoy sales in a real business, not just in the classroom.

The sales process is agile, not formulated. Day to day tasks and duties were ever-changing for me in the office. I thoroughly enjoyed the surprises in this vocation. Solving and dealing with unexpected situations were part of the job. I was not stuck doing mundane tasks. Instead, I was allowed to experience a different part of the sales position, from analytics to sales skills. Even when a mission was revisited or performed again, it still felt fresh and new because of the work environment.

A career without a spark and a new edge is the stereotype for office jobs, but ActivTrak showed me the potential of what it can actually be. And while it allowed me to experience the different parts of sales, I also saw how I could affect the operations of businesses as an inside or outside salesperson.

2. Experience with different types of businesses

Many students are familiar with Business to Consumer relationships, but they often overlook Business to Business relationships. While who I was selling to may seem irrelevant, it’s an instrumental part of sales and can only be defined through real-world experience. I familiarized myself with the technical side of the  software and worked to understand successful methods of selling the features most useful for each business.

When it comes to selling to individual consumers, it’s sometimes possible to overlook the tech-heavy details. The average Joe consumer may not be familiar with the ins and outs of software and may not even have the need to understand its full potential.

But when you turn your attention towards businesses, I learned that there’s more than just knowing how the product works. You also need to go the extra mile and explain the use cases best suited for each company, how the software can be integrated into day-to-day operations, and why it is invaluable to their prolonged existence.

This was a significant takeaway for me because it made me realize that many big box companies fail to explain how their product relieves the pain points for each individual company. Because of that, they’re missing out on a large portion of the market segment.

The ActivTrak team demonstrates on a business-by-business basis how their product  can solve the puzzles that need solving.

I got to see first hand how ActivTrak affects operations in a positive way. A company I sold the software to succeeded in making their operations, on-shore and off-shore, much more efficient. They reduced wasted time to the most minimal amount.

Many college students will work for a huge company. In that setting, they may not see the impact that their work has on the company. Working for a small SAAS company has allowed me to realize the soft and technical skills that I bring to the table, and the tangible results of the work that I do.

Timothy Nguyen cupcakes

The team surprised me with cupcakes on my last day!

3. Experience with new office cultures

It could just have been the fantastic company culture here at ActivTrak, but work here did not feel like work. ActivTrak puts an emphasis on the employees and fostering an excellent all-around work environment.  I was excited to come in every day, something that I haven’t been able to feel in previous jobs.

Working at ActivTrak allowed me to realize the innate value of the tasks that I do. That gave me the push to strive beyond what I usually do. I felt that my work was of real importance. That feeling inspired me to learn more and go beyond my usual work ethic. The office environment was a huge catalyst for my effective workflow.

It was vital for me to experience a new corporate culture because I learned that this type of culture – one where my individual effort made an effect on more substantial decisions – actually exists. In stark contrast to my prior jobs, ActivTrak made me feel like my own efforts created value. And overall, this internship has redefined my outlook on how I can impact companies I work for in the future.

Bottom Line: Take a chance on the unfamiliar

So, it turns out that my decision to complete an internship outside of my major was a smart one! It has been an incredible internship. I think any student who is planning to complete an internship should consider taking a chance on the unfamiliar. You’ll get exposure to careers, companies, and cultures you would not otherwise experience.

Regardless of a student’s focus in school, they should definitely look to intern in a new environment. This opportunity can mold their outlook on what type of career they should pursue.

Before I entered this internship, I couldn’t fathom the possibility of working a job that was not centered around marketing. Now that I’ve operated in a role in such a field, I have a much more open mindset for jobs. I’ve developed many capabilities that I wouldn’t have thought possible before.

I’ll be a better-prepared marketing major entering the job market thanks to the experiences I had at ActivTrak.

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