For the past few months I have had the pleasure of working as a product manager intern for Quicken. This internship has taught me the importance of communication, fun, and what it really means to be in a working environment. Everyone’s first day at work is usually a nerve racking, awkward, and sobering event. I was a nervous rising junior at Willamette University who was studying creative writing, walking through the clear glass doors of a 30 year old start up feeling extreme trepidation. Yet, Quicken came to feel more like a family than a company.
My name is Matthew Aiu and I want to tell you about my software family. I had many preconceptions before I arrived. My head was filled with questions like, ‘will I be running around getting people coffee’, ‘will my work be interesting ’, and many other narratives. However, my time at this company has uprooted any negative preconceived notions. My mentor Sangeetha, who was extremely supportive, made me feel comfortable. She took an interest in what I knew and what I did not know, assigning me tasks on my first day as a way for me to learn the basics of being a product manager.
As my knowledge and skills grew, the jobs turned into projects. Which required more responsibility and attention, sometimes lasting several weeks. The most complex tasks were creating a message directed at 2007 customers and writing up a TSM (A TSM or “Targeted Startup Message” is an internal messaging system that can be directed at certain customers). These two assignments forced me to step far out of my comfort zone and pushed me to communicate with multiple departments within the company. I also learned not to lose sight of what the bigger picture is. These messages were for our customers so they should be clear, concise, and easily understood. While crafting the messages and making them ready to launch, I would often be forced to stop and collect my thoughts. I realized that continuously working without removing yourself from a project will be detrimental to the quality it has. Quicken taught me that working hard is important but resting and having fun is just as essential. Quicken promotes this culture through biweekly paper airplane contests, a go karting event, and visit to a ranch that had bull riding.
My time spent at Quicken has been one of the most informative experiences I have had in my life. I ask myself questions like “what company do I want to work for”, “what kind of environment do I want to work in”, and “what do I want my job to do for me”? Inquiries like these have bothered me because I could never come up with an answer. However, now I think I do, I want to work at a company like Quicken. I want to be in an environment that encourages learning, fun, and stepping out of comfort zones. I want a job that enables me to help people live better and happier lives, and challenges me intellectually just like this internship.
The adventure I have had this summer at Quicken is not what I expected, but it has been one of the best learning experiences I have ever had.