This post was written by Jacob Laufer, one of our awesome summer interns and a rising junior at NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.
On my first Friday at Knewton, I was asked by one of our product managers what I would be doing for Hack Day. I, being the young and naive intern I was, responded that I didn’t know how to code and walked away. As I went to open the front door, however, I realized that I had probably given the wrong answer. The sweet sounds of drills and hammers filled the hallway and I entered the office to a few people building a bike rack, breaking only for beer and pizza later. Apparently coding wasn’t the only kind of “hacking” around here.
This was my “welcome to Knewton” moment.
The next week, at the Hack Day presentations, Ian and Sean, two members of the Knewton team, presented the idea of the WTF series of brownbag lectures. They explained the rationale behind the lectures: Knewton is an educational technology business made of education people, technology people, and business people – each of whom could stand to learn a few things about the aspects of the company in which they’re not directly involved.
These past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to learn about many different parts of Knewton — not only through skill-sharing presentations like the WTF series, but also through hands-on projects and experiences. Case in point: I was originally hired as a business development intern, but – as is the norm in busy startups – things changed, and I started out working with the marketing team. I was able to help build the Knewton brand through planning and researching conferences, and learned a ton in the process of writing presentation proposals. Later in the summer, I had the opportunity to work in sales. The sales team truly brought me in and allowed me to be an integral part of an ambitious sales campaign. Finally, by the end of my internship, I had come full circle and got to do some business development work. I took the task of researching as many ed-tech companies as possible for the BD team to review as possible partners or competitors. I created slide decks on each company for the team to reference in the future.
About two weeks ago, a large Knewton contingency trekked over to General Assembly for an ed-tech event. After the event I got a chance to chat with our head of business development, Katie, and she asked how I felt about my experience at Knewton – and specifically about being bounced from the business development team before I even started. I answered that I honestly believe that it was the best thing that could have happened. I was able to acquire a diverse skill-set and work with some awesome people in different roles.