Blog post Brigitte - On Internships, the Cali Life and Office Dogs

My internship in a San Francisco start-up

We arrived in SF around midnight and my internship started the next day. As I arrived in the office I was welcomed by our office dog Foxy. The first day was scary, I was going through onboarding documents the whole work day. My brain was overloaded with information by the end of it. Next day I got started on my first projects and foosball games. Oh yeah – we have a foosball table in our office. 

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Badger Office with Office dog

The Internship at Badger Maps

My internship at Badger Maps has been incredible – I get to work on any project I want to and even start my own projects. I’ve written blogs for our company webpage, created landing pages, informative slideshows, coded websites, filmed a commercial, etc. Badger offers a very unique internship program which I would recommend to anyone who wants to get a valuable work experience and gain lots of insights at a growing company. Unlike most companies who hire interns as “coffee-fetchers”, Badger Maps allows their interns to participate in nearly every project going on in the company.

Another unique aspect of Badger Maps is the variety of internships they offer. They have internships for every specialty ranging from Product Management, to Sales, Marketing, Public Relations, Business Development, Finance, Customer Success, Recruiting, and Human Resources. (Check this site for currently available positions!)  Not only are there various options to apply for, but interns are also encouraged to participate in all projects – every Monday we have a meeting with the whole office where each department talks about their projects and if you find something that interest you, all you have to do is to go up to the head of the department and ask to join in.

Our CEO teaches “Badger Classes” two times a week, where he presents and speaks on topics ranging from “How to Land your Dream Job”, to “How to Write a Good Cover Letter”, “Writing for an Audience”, and “How to Start a Business”.

Like California in general, the culture in our office very easy-going. The people are exceedingly nice and helpful. Our office is very diverse – we have 50/50 men and women, and a lot of interns are from abroad – French, Belgian, Dutch, Austrian, German, Indian, etc. Every Friday after work we hang out in the office, play games, have theme days and we have also gone ice skating and to different shows in the San Francisco Exploratorium.

The biggest challenge I have faced has been finding a place to live. Even though there’s more options, postings than in Rotterdam, most of them don’t get back to you or are obvious scams. I sent out over a hundred emails when I was still on my summer vacation in Estonia and I barely got any replies. I was lucky enough to get in contact with another Estonian girl who was living in SF and she let me stay at her apartment for my first 3 weeks. It’s much easier to find a place when you’re already in the city. What I discovered when sending out all these emails that people here don’t find it trustworthy if you’re very throughout and tell your whole life story to them, a simple “Hey, I saw your ad about a room. Is it still available? –Thanks” is much more effective. After I started being more straight to the point, I got noticeably more replies.

Besides that, I have been enjoying my stay here wholeheartedly. I wish every student could get the experience I have had, especially in my workplace. I’ve learned and grown so much in just the two months I have been here and I can’t wait for what the next four will bring.
 

Comprehensive list of tips I wish to give to students going on internships:

  1. Start looking for an internship early
    – there’s a lot of websites that have different internship postings, or you could choose a specific company and check their openings, or use LinkedIn to search for an internship
     
  2. Do your research on the company before your interview
    – pin down what they value the most – what I found for Badger was easy-going company culture and teamwork. Then show how you have the same values
     
  3. CV and resumé are not the same
    – CV has all your work history and skills whereas resumé has to be tailored specifically for the job you’re applying for
     
  4. Don’t stress about the visa process
    – pay attention to detail and ask for your sponsor company’s help when filling in all the papers
    – US likes interns from abroad; it’s called an interview, not an interrogation
     
  5. Use all the chances you get to travel around, it shouldn’t be all work and no play
     
  6. When looking for a place to stay
    – be aware of scams, international students are easy pray – always ask for viewings and the landlord being out of country with the only key is ALWAYS a scam
    – NETWORK! Try searching “*your nationality* in *the place you have your internship*” on Facebook and ask if someone could let you stay at their place until you find a place on your own. Nationalities tend to be very hospitable and stick together when they’re outside of their home country.
    – Get straight to the point when sending out emails. Telling your whole story might seem like a scam to landlords.
     
  7. Get the most out of your internship by jumping in on a variety of projects

And lastly: Never let difficulties get you down, the experience is more than worth it.