Putting My Preparation Skills to Use 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 Montez, a rising senior studying Economics with a minor in Computer Informatics at Emory University. When he’s not in class or working, he enjoys weightlifting, working on his photography skills or Wikipedia surfing.
My friends love to bring me along for trips because I’m an expert at preparing. I approach simple to elaborate outings with great attention to detail. I’m the guy that has memorized the route to our destination, packed each person’s necessary items (often ones that they don’t even recognize as a necessity), has just the right amount of supplies for the setting, and predicts the moments that can go awry. I’ve been able to do this because I have collected a solid idea of what makes a good trip for me and for others. I learn enough about my audience and goal to the point that I can study the key aspects then repeat them until it’s natural. This can lead to me mumbling to myself repeatedly as I list off the final checklist but it’s worth it once I get to the end and can enjoy the fruits of my preparation. I approached my summer internship at AppNexus in a similar fashion.
As a summer Commercial intern on the Client Advisory team, my project was to help drive adoption for a new AppNexus optimization product. It was not a step but a giant leap forward from the current optimization protocols. The new optimization tool would help our clients yield better performance more efficiently while easing their workload significantly. It was a great product that I felt ill-equipped to help promote since I didn’t have a firm grasp on how the tool – or even my new team for that matter – worked. Now, in true AppNexus fashion (as I would learn) I had to bond learning the new and the old concurrently as I discovered how I could contribute value to this project. My preparation techniques would be put to the test in a situation that didn’t necessarily have a rigid course.
With such an open-ended project, there were a multitude of ways to start. I began to realize that there wasn’t going to be an ordered checklist to scrutinize. Flexibility would be key in progressing throughout the summer. I would start with learning what the team needed (including things they may not have yet known they needed). I did a series of one-on-ones with the Client Advisory team and shadowed their client phone calls to get an idea of who they were as people and how they get their job done. Through this process of collaboration, I was able to find pockets of opportunity where I could contribute.
I managed a few objectives: create a way for the team to track their adoption progress, identify opportunities to drive adoption, and initiate direct conversations with our clients about the new product. To complete these objectives, I needed to learn a number of things: how to use MySQL to pull reports from our databases, how the new product works and who it works for, and how to deliver a pitch. This wasn’t the kind of step-by-step process that I was used to and instead required me to adapt to quickly changing events. I worked with our Client Insight Analytics team to create a query that could track adoption, then with our Product team to clarify important aspects of the new product, and then with my manager to practice my pitch delivery.
With the help of other AppNexians and a new avenue of preparation, I made a report that tracked our adoption for the new product by account and by team member in charge of that account. I also made another report that identified the clients who would be great fits for the new product, along with the exact campaigns of theirs it could help most with. The most daunting task was pitching directly to clients but I accomplished that too. Each objective had its failings in the first few prototypes but by continuing to iterate and learn, I gained comfort and confidence.
Looking back over this summer, I realize that preparation can’t always happen in a linear way and when beginning a new adventure your first steps won’t be your best due to unpredictable events. The crucial aspect is to continue moving and learning so that you can make it to the end of the trip. I don’t think I’m an expert at AppNexus but I feel my summer has made me a natural AppNexian.