It’s crazy to believe another summer has come and gone, and for Spreetail that means saying goodbye to another cohort of interns. From May to August, thirty-four students were immersed into the world of ecommerce on teams ranging from Software & Technology, Supply Chain, Vendor Management, Channels, and more. For the second consecutive year, our interns worked remotely but this year were given the opportunity to participate in in-person events such as Intern Olympics and community volunteer events.
The end of our 2021 internship program is bittersweet, as we had the opportunity to offer interns part-time positions during the school year, to return for the 2022 summer internship program, or start their careers with us as full-time team members. As the fall intern recruitment season quickly approaches and we prepare to head to campuses, we sat down with Tanner Skelton, Software Engineer Intern, to learn more about why he chose to intern at Spreetail...twice.
After spending the summer of 2020 as a Spreetail intern, what made you return in 2021?
The summer of 2020 was a weird summer. Everybody had been sent home from school early, while professors struggled to make the transition to online learning. There was a lot of uncertainty. While many of my friends fell victim to the circumstance of the pandemic by having internships and opportunities canceled, I was much more fortunate. Throughout the months before the internship started, Spreetail did a good job communicating and letting me know what to expect. After getting started, Spreetail quickly went from a place of work to a place of community. The internship program effectively integrated me into my team and amongst my fellow interns. I quickly became friends with my co-workers through the welcoming Spreetail culture. In short, I came back for a second year because I felt a sense of belonging at Spreetail. I felt like my work made a difference and that I had a strong team behind me. I thought of it like this; I can write code anywhere, but not everywhere is going to care for their employees like Spreetail does. Spreetail’s focus on employee development is what did it for me. I learned so much about myself, my career path, and the industry. All while working with some of the most passionate people I have ever met. For me, the choice was simple. I had such a positive experience during a very turbulent time, coming back just made sense.
Describe your team and the work you accomplished this summer. How did that differ from the summer before?
I was on the Catalog Management team this summer, where we build tools to help Spreetail update and manage product listings across 15+ online marketplaces. This summer I did a lot of full stack work. I got to work on a multitude of different tools, adding various features and fixing various bugs. The majority of my summer had me taking part in building out a completely new tool to transition from Excel to something a little more user friendly and easy to work with.
This was a fun project to be a part of because I got to take part in building a large application from the ground up. It was really fun learning all of the steps to building a large, scalable application. I would say the biggest difference from this summer and last summer was just the amount of tools I was able to put my hands on. Last summer I spent most of my time working on one large feature in an internal system whereas this summer I was working with multiple tools.
What did you learn from your Spreetail mentor(s) throughout each summer?
The best lesson I’ve learned and continue to explore is the importance of building your own brand. I like this idea because in order to build a strong brand you need to first understand your own values, strengths, and beliefs. They helped me further understand my strengths and provided opportunities to apply them as well as identify my own career goals. My mentors have further cemented the importance of self-discovery and growth as a part of my career. Through my mentors at Spreetail and internal development workshops such as Spreetail Spark and Spreetail Connect, I have found a sense of direction and understanding of how to set myself up for future success.
Walk me through the collaboration with other interns throughout the internship program.
Collaborating with the other interns is a big part of Spreetail's internship program. You do this the most with the interns on your team as you are actively working with them every day. However, the program does a good job connecting you with the interns who are not on your team. This summer we played mini-golf, went bowling, and had our own Intern Olympics. Every Friday there were intern discussion groups where we were given an article to read and questions to discuss as a group. This was a fun time to have deeper conversations about real issues with a full-time Spreetailer and my peers.
How did your skills evolve year after year?
The best way for me to answer this question is to reference the amount of help I needed to complete my tasks and my general confidence. Last summer, I spent a lot of the time pair-programming with one of my co-workers and was not super confident in the work I delivered. This summer, completely different. I was able to confidently take on work and get it done on pace with the rest of my co-workers. This gave me more freedom and allowed me to explore my own style. I feel that I achieved this with the intentional help I received the summer before, further highlighting the culture that keeps me coming back.
What was the most challenging and most rewarding factors when interning remotely?
The most challenging part of working from home for me was the lack of in-person interaction. I am a very social person who enjoys face-to-face connections. I’ve found a balance by getting lunch in-person with co-workers and being active in my Microsoft Teams chats. The most rewarding aspect of working virtually has been the ability to create my own schedule. I’ll do various things around the house while I take a break, go on walks, workout, and cook. Working remotely allows me to be on my own schedule and truly master my time management skills.
Throughout the summer Spreetail interns participate in lots of different program activities. What was your favorite and why?
My favorite program is definitely the community impact projects. I had the opportunity this summer to lead a group of interns in a community impact project with the Child Advocacy Center. This resulted in us meeting weekly to discuss our plans and organize our mission. We ended up doing some landscaping for them, road mapping a social media campaign, and building comfort kits for kids who come into the center. This was a great opportunity to get to know the other interns while giving back to the community.
What was your biggest takeaway from your time interning with Spreetail?
It doesn’t matter where you work, it matters that the work you do is fulfilling and alongside awesome people.
What advice would you give to a student looking for an internship?
Look for a company that invests in its employees and community as much as it does itself. To me, this is an indication of a healthy workplace.
Are you looking for internship opportunities? Applications open September 1st for Spreetail’s summer internship program. Stay up to date by signing up for our internship newsletter here.