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Interning at Qu: How Failing Forward Fast Helped me Succeed

I’m a rising senior at Tulane University majoring in Marketing and Finance. I’ve been interested in marketing since I was first introduced to it in an intro to marketing class in my sophomore year. I knew I needed to get hands-on experience in marketing, which is why I sought out marketing internships. Last summer, I was a business development associate at a tech startup in NYC where I focused on marketing and development. This year, I was lucky enough to build on this experience and landed a role at Qu as their 2019 Summer Marketing and Sales Intern!

A day in the life of a Qu Intern

This summer I got to drive to work and sit closer to a window than 99.9% of interns in the world. I learned that everything they say about working at a start-up is true; I totally get to wear t-shirts and casual clothes, the swag is real, I drink 3+ cups of coffee a day, and I’ve learned to stack food on top of food(think Jenga) during Friday’s catered lunches. 

I was lucky enough to work on a number of meaningful campaigns during my time at Qu. I also built marketing collateral and conducted strategic competitive analysis. Overall, I am leaving with the feeling that I have made a big impact on the company. 

Let me tell you a bit more about my work here, other than the work perks.

Making an impact

One of the highest impact projects I had the chance to work on was a deep-dive competitive analysis. I was able to research and compare SEO strategies, customer experiences, pricing, API strategies, and a lot more across the POS industry. Building out a competitive landscape and a usable tool for Qu employees has already proven to be both fulfilling and useful for the company.

I loved seeing the battle cards that I worked on helping the sales team onboard new employees. The reason I think the battle cards were so helpful to the team is because I collaborated really well with senior sales team members who contributed to making them a success. The fact that our sales team, remote and local, were willing to give me their undivided attention and invaluable knowledge proved to me that people at Qu care and will go out of their way to help one another. I was inspired by this culture and driven to contribute to it myself. 

I didn’t expect the CEO, CTO, and Head of Product to also use the competitive tools I worked on, but they did! So this has been more than rewarding for me and shows the impact I was able to make.

It wasn't all stackable food and sunshine

I was tasked with doing big things with a modest amount of experience. At certain points, I realized that I didn’t have the ability to do them and I was probably going to fail. 

I was afraid to fail. 

Sometimes, this fear hindered my ability to get the job done because I could see myself second-guessing my own decisions, back-tracking, and my work getting sloppy. I knew this wasn’t a good reflection of my capabilities, and thankfully I had the right mentors at Qu who put things into perspective. I had to learn to fail fast and fail forward.

How failing fast and forward led to my inevitable success

My biggest campaign was called SDR Lite. The “Lite” meant that it wasn’t your everyday SDR campaign. Given the nature of our marketing strategy, your every day SDR campaign wasn’t an option. I didn’t have any drawn-out instructions. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own or seek support. 

I spent countless hours researching each person and company we were targeting in the outreach campaign until we were finally ready to launch. Every time I thought the campaign was ready to launch, there was something wrong. I felt like every time feedback came back, I had taken two steps forward and one step back. Every delay meant countless additional hours of research, labor, and critical decision making for me.

Eventually, it became apparent that I couldn’t do it on my own and the nature of the campaign required collaboration and a pivot. It took a lot of courage for me to pitch a relatively large pivot in the campaign to our CMO but it worked! Not only did the pivot help with the logistics of the campaign, but it also added an element of longevity which impacted the entire sales and marketing department and will for a long time to come.

Some takeaways

Qu’s company culture and team taught me a lot. I started reflecting on my experience based on our cultural manifesto which is summarized in an acronym. Like Qu, I march to my own BEET.  

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I am taking away tons from this internship. Outside of important collaboration and feedback skills when working in an office environment, I learned in-depth knowledge about marketing and sales. But most importantly, I am taking a wealth of personal learnings with me.

Here are 5 valuable personal lessons that I will take with me forever:

  1. There can be 100 different ways to do things and it’s not unexpected to take a wrong turn along the way. 
  2. When things get tedious, it’s important to focus on the big picture. Always have an eye for results.
  3. It’s important to find a balance between dependent and independent work. 
  4. Seek feedback early and often, and don’t take any of it personally. 
  5. Don’t blame yourself for mistakes but see them as learning experiences instead. 

If there is anything I can leave you with, it is to fail fast and fail forward.

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