Work rewarded: Reflections on a summer internship at Ibotta
How summer programs can help define young careers and establish networks
A power-packed, 12-week internship at Ibotta has officially come to a close. Little did I know I would witness a product revamp, Amazon and Uber signing on as mobile commerce partners, Ibotta raising a Series C-1 round of funding, and more, all in the span of three months. Rightly, as everyone says, “All good things must come to an end’, irrespective of triumphs and failures, experiences are paramount. As an intern, my experience at Ibotta helped define my young career and establish my network, while learning the many facets of a technology company.
Working at Ibotta
Ibotta is comprised of smart and creative individuals who, in tandem, work hard together to succeed. The way I see it: you can approach a new opportunity in two different ways: either shy away, or embrace all of the wisdom around you. Initially I was intimidated, but I quickly focused my energy and kept on learning. The passion exuded by my peers motivated me to listen, learn and deliver.
People take on new environments and experiences with uncertainty and excitement. At first, I wondered if the internship’s duration was too short to grasp the nuances of the company. However, I was thrown into the real world of business with real problems to solve. It's not as onerous as it sounds, the key was to have a keen mind and a willingness to learn and fail. Above all, I learned to take initiative. It was not long before I felt in sync with the company's goals.
As an intern, you are not expected to know everything. In fact, I used this to my advantage by choosing to expose myself to different departments and individuals at Ibotta in order to discover what I was most enthusiastic about. Ibotta has given me additional clarity on my near-term career objectives, which allowed me to sign up for courses at my university this fall that align with my passions. Furthermore, I believe these courses will strengthen my skill set and give me a competitive edge in the market upon graduating.
I will admit the first week was overwhelming. I was a fly on the wall for every meeting and tried to connect the dots until more dots appeared. Nonetheless, I maintained a positive attitude and constantly told myself I did not need to know everything, but it was best to be informed.
I read through several product resources from blogs and articles to internal product structures and themes. And I would discuss these new findings with my manager on a weekly basis. By taking things one step at a time, I began to understand the product and engineering department at a more granular level and felt more comfortable in my role as a Product Manager intern.
From this, I learned it was good to know the things you know and don’t know, as confusing at that sounds. In other words, I discovered what I was good at, what I was not good at, and what I needed to build upon. This set a good base for the rest of my internship. I took lots of notes and asked a lot of questions. I was surprised at how much I learned just by observing.
“When you are young, your spirits are high, and you have a zillion ideas that drive you to make an impact. But just remember that it’s always about the company, your customers, and never about yourself.”
That’s what my Ibotta mentor, Christine Hettinger, told me about making an impact. She and Phil Carter, my managers, were such a blessing and mentored me selflessly. They helped me understand my part in different projects, and how I could best work together with my peers. Meanwhile they provided constructive feedback to nurture my skills and offered insights on careers in the competitive technology industry.
Founder and CEO Bryan Leach, is a passionate leader and a strong presenter. Each week he led company-wide meetings, called “standups,” and always made sure to set the stage and hook the audience. Luke Swanson, the chief technology officer, would impress everyone with his brilliance and attention to detail. Every member of Ibotta’s senior leadership team had unique strengths and was able to work together cohesively.
Work + Party Hard
We interns were pampered with Ibotta swag, a Rockies game, luncheons, kickball and more. The whole internship period was well thought out by the intern committee for a more robust experience. Another favorite was “Ibotta U,” which consisted of one-on-one interactions led by the C-suite, walking us through their personal experiences, their interests and more in a comprehensive, week-long orientation program.
Ibotta’s mission, “Life Rewarded,” a motto echoed throughout the company and by its users, is a perfect description of my experience as an intern: My time and work, indeed, were rewarded and rewarding.