An Entrepreneurial Journey at AppNexus
This post is part of our Summer Intern Blog Series! Each of our most recent class of interns wrote a blog post on their biggest accomplishments and lessons of the summer. This installment comes from Danilo, a rising senior at the University of Delaware, currently attending New York University as a Visiting Student. He is majoring in Economics with a minor in Entrepreneurship. He loves podcasts, ping-pong, and being able to explore New York City from others’ perspectives.
I consider myself a born entrepreneur. From a young age, I’ve constantly been hustling, trying to sell whatever I could get my hands on.
In high school, I launched my first business. Four years later, at age 19, I took a leave of absence from college to pursue the same business – opening an office in Los Angeles and employing a small team.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be an intern two years later. I couldn’t fathom working for someone else. The concept of being an intern seemed unglamorous. My impression of an internship was that I’d simply be completing the tasks I was told to do without getting real opportunities for growth.
But not all internships are created equal.
In the fall of my junior year, I decided to look for an internship where I could learn more about sales. Although I had past experience, I wanted an up-close view of the sales process at a large company. Having struggled valiantly to keep my own startup alive, I wanted to see how established companies continuously grow their customer bases.
It turned out to be the right decision. Three months of fulfilling, personal and professional development at AppNexus helped me begin to understand big company processes and learn from a diverse group of people. After initially dismissing the idea, I now believe that every young entrepreneur should consider interning at a company like AppNexus.
For my summer project, I helped turn a data dump into a usable worksheet that allowed our account managers to effectively find meaningful trends in the numbers and communicate them to clients at scale.
I wasn’t trivialized, I wasn’t talked down to, and I certainly wasn’t micromanaged. I was given the freedom to use my creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to complete my summer projects.
I was also given the opportunity to lead a project outside of my role’s requirements. After listening to several employees discuss the difficulty of scheduling meetings due to the different time zones at all of our offices, I identified a problem I could solve, and quickly got approval to try and address it. I looked into possible solutions and was able to find a Mac application to streamline scheduling across our global offices. Now, when AppNexians need to schedule internal meetings with clients and colleagues all around the world, they can easily find the appropriate time.
Thanks to my entrepreneurial spirit, I was able to make the day-to-day work of thousands of AppNexians just a little bit easier.
You’re only as good as the people around you
In ten weeks, I’ve seen my professional skills grow tremendously. For example, seeing the clarity with which work was delegated to me raised my personal bar for communication. From something as small as appropriately titling a document or providing context in an email, to seeing executives send companywide updates and address employee questions, this has been a superb learning experience.
Until I arrived at AppNexus, I didn’t believe I would be able to find a place with such a high concentration of smart, diverse, and forward-thinking people. From my fellow interns, to people on the commercial team, to the executives (some of whom I got the chance to learn from directly!), I was consistently blown away.
You don’t know what you don’t know
If there is one big takeaway that I have from this summer, it’s that I’m beginning to grasp how little I know. As an entrepreneur, being isolated can make it easy to think that you know it all. Being exposed to a cognitive and culturally diverse group of thinkers and doers, I’ve dramatically increased my appetite for continued learning. I am completing my internship having learned how to work with a team more professionally, roll out new products internally and externally, and effectively communicate with a wide range of individuals.
I’m incredibly grateful for such a tremendous opportunity. I gained new skills, was surrounded by amazing people, and was able to flex my entrepreneurial spirit. Being exposed to such excellence raised my personal standards and provided the framework for future entrepreneurial improvement.
I’m excited to continue the journey.