We had a couple of great interns working for us this Summer. Eliza is one of the many talented interns that’s detailed her experience below:
When I somewhat prematurely finished my first job this summer I was looking forward to a full month and a half of sloth. I wanted to stay up late with friends, lay on beach all day, go on short trips, and generally enjoy over a month of total freedom. However, less than a week into my serene and restful life I was given the opportunity to spend a month interning at Fresh Tilled Soil.
My initial reaction was of course, “oh no!” This real world opportunity was all set-up to squash my month of bliss. Yet, I couldn’t turn it down without feeling unbearably guilty, in a time when such opportunities are hard to come by. After a day of tortured contemplation the responsible voice in the back of my head won out. I decided to give the opportunity a fair chance.
I called Richard, the CEO of Fresh Tilled Soil, to let him know I was interested, half expecting him to decide he did not need me after all since I have one of those somewhat useless majors at a liberal arts school, and even I couldn’t think how I could contribute to a web design company. However, before I knew what had happen I was in a meeting with him, discussing what I would be doing, how the company ran, and what kind of principles of small business they believed in. I had even been given some books to read. The longer I was talking to him, and indeed learning from him, the smaller the part of me that wanted to run back to the beach became. I quickly became convinced that what I could learn at Fresh Tilled Soil was far more valuable than a few weeks of sloth. I still did not really have any idea of what I would do, but I figured I would learn about small business, marketing, and all sorts of things unknown.
I started working the next day. As was the case most days I went to work this summer, I entered the office in the morning with very little idea of what I would do. I asked Richard what he had in mind for the day. He set me up with Chris, the CEO of Super Web-O-Matic, (a smaller web design company which shares space with Fresh Tilled Soil) and I began planning out a series of marketing events with him. During my time at Fresh Tilled Soil I spent most of the time working with Chris and his partner Chad. At first it surprised me that Fresh Tilled Soil would loan out its resources, in this case me, in this manner. The longer I worked there the more I understood the cooperative, entrepreneurial spirit which drives everything they do.
Working with Chris I helped out with getting Super Web-O-Matic out there, and learned a lot about the myriad ways small businesses use the internet for marketing. I learned about the usefulness of blogs, twitter, and email lists. (And in so doing, learned spending time on twitter is not for me) I slowly figured out that, at least at this company, using anything close to formal language was unnecessary and boring. I helped Chad edit websites the company was designing, and he taught me how to use some of the website building tools they use. I was introduced to the ever changing world of search engine optimization, and contributed to the projects they were working on in that field. Some days Richard would drop by our corner of the office and give me a task for the day. He almost always came by to ask how I was doing and make sure I had work to do. As I said, I never really knew ahead of time what I would be working on, but that did not bother me. I am not saying everything I did was engaging or interesting, if I never have to find contact information again it will not be too soon, but much of it was fun, and I learned a great deal.
I have worked in a lot of different work environments in my many summers of interning. I have passionately hated my boss, felt the drain of going to work at a place where everyone is unhappy, stressed, or bored, worked at summer camps where no matter what people felt they put on a happy face for the kids, and worked at an office where people joked around and seemed happy. The environment at Fresh Tilled Soil is at least a full step better than anywhere else I have worked. People are happy not only as they leave work but as they enter, they order lunch together, and help each other out with problems. There is no sense that people work because someone is looking over their shoulder. People work hard because they want to help out the company, and they trust and respect the people they work for. One of the first things I was told when I started was not to worry if I don’t finish everything on my plate every day. Just do what you can and then do the rest tomorrow. This attitude that everyone is trusted to work hard and get things done without major deadlines or policing, is in my eyes a big part of what makes this such a special place.
In my time at Fresh Tilled Soil I saw how the practices I read about in the literature Richard gave me applied to small business, and decided for myself what aspects of the books were useful, and what either did not apply to this situation. I learned how to do specific things in marketing, web design, and search engine optimization, which has helped me figure out if I would like to work in these fields in the future. I learned what a great working environment is, and the pieces that need to come together to build one. Most importantly I learned a lot about how small businesses run, what to expect, and what their goals are.
I admit there were times when I looked out the window at the uncharacteristically sunny weather and wished I was on a beach, but looking at what I have been able to contribute to Fresh Tilled Soil and Super Web-O-Matic, and what working here has taught me, there’s no question in my mind that I made the right choice in doing this internship.