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Interning at Knewton After College: An Untraditional, but Rewarding Path

Posted in Knerds on February 7, 2011 by

Nina as a jellyfish at Knewton's Halloween celebration

This post was written by Nina Arjarasumpun.

Time flies when you work at a start-up.

College moves pretty quickly, but life in the real world starts so much faster.  Once those commencement caps hit the ground, newly minted alumni are thrown into an unknown realm — even if they’ve already landed a job or a spot in grad school.  Regardless of the state of the economy and personal and financial pressures, some people know exactly where to go next.  Some are content to go wherever they can, even if they know it’s not exactly what they want.  Others are willing to take a chance and enter the world post-graduation without anything yet set in place.

I decided to take a chance. Job offers came in, but nothing felt quite right. Saying no was incredibly hard, especially at a time when many of my peers were willing to say yes to almost anything. People told me I was being picky and impractical, but I wasn’t ready or willing to build momentum on a career path I knew wasn’t the right fit for me.

What did seem like the right fit for me, though, was this marketing internship with Knewton that I learned about during a user experience interview I had with the company right before graduation.  As a proud Knewton GMAT student, I was happy to provide student feedback, but the opportunity to actually intern with them was definitely even more exciting.  Before my imagination went wild about what their office and the people there were like, though, I needed to go in for an interview.

When I arrived at Knewton HQ, I was ushered into a room undergoing renovation. An empty bookshelf served as a makeshift table; we sat on boxes with unassembled chairs inside. Some people might have been turned off by the slapdash furnishings, but I could already sense the buzz of productivity and inspiration in the office. Plus, the job sounded like a great opportunity: it not only matched my interests, but would also give me the chance to find new Knewton students to become as enthusiastic as I was about the company and brand.

I started off learning SEO, doing college outreach, helping out with online customer service, and organizing GMAT study meet-up groups. The days flew by. Diving head-first into a workplace in which so many people are driven to make a difference in how people learn was incredible. The talent and creativity of my colleagues was astounding and a testament to how the company had managed to develop so much in just two short years. I myself was growing and learning at a phenomenal rate. It’s hard for me to believe that I would have gotten such a rich and rewarding experience at a standard entry-level position elsewhere.

The icing on the cake of my last two months here was coordinating the relaunch of Knewton’s entire marketing site in less than 60 days. I was eager for more experience in product development (with the site serving as the product in this scenario), and the fact that the Knewton team allowed me to take on this challenge says a lot about the level of trust they put in their interns. Two months was a crazy timeline in which to launch a website, but it was amazing to see the members of the marketing team step up their game and move out of their comfort zones to not only get the job done — but get the job done well.

Over the past seven months, I have been able to experience and contribute to a lot of the great developments happening at Knewton, and I know that this is only the start of the company’s successes. From day one of learning about Knewton while browsing for GMAT prep courses and really connecting with the vibe of the company, I knew that there was something special about the team. I couldn’t have asked for a better time to be part of the company. Being an intern at Knewton has encouraged me to push myself in ways I never imagined I could so early in my career. The company’s fast-paced, collaborative environment gave me the confidence to take on projects that many other recent grads wouldn’t consider. I for one am glad that I was “picky” and “impractical” and held out for a real-world position that truly felt like the right fit.