Growing up in Tallahassee, FL there wasn’t much industry in town. It’s a great city to raise a family and always has the lowest unemployment in the state since life revolves around the state government and Florida State University. At my high school, Lincoln, there was a program for seniors called a gifted externship. People in the gifted program could take the last two periods of the day to participate in an off-site, un-paid internship and get honors credit. It was a pretty sweet deal.
Through a connection I had the opportunity to intern at the oil change franchisor Super Lube where I spent time partly with the COO and partly with the VP of Marketing. The COO was skeptical of having a high school senior around and didn’t give me much attention. Looking back, my biggest takeaway was that technology, and simple business intelligence software, would have automated a good chunk what he did. He would literally spend hours pouring over printed spreadsheets of KPIs from each store location manually looking for unusual deviations and trends. The most common thing he looked for was signs of theft based on different numbers not making sense (e.g. oil expense vs revenue).
The VP of Marketing enjoyed having me around as I would help her with computer issues and desktop publishing projects. Learning about marketing and advertising options, like a certain high-profile billboard in town costing $500/month at the time, was fascinating for me. As expected, there was no focus on return on investment or ability to measure the effectiveness of different campaigns. A certain budget was dreamed up for marketing and the money was spent based on what seemed the most appropriate. Unfortunately, it still works that way for many companies.
My first internship, in retrospect, drove home the importance of software. Here were these smart executives at one of the top companies in town, and so many aspects of their job were manual, but had the ability to be significantly enhanced by software. Software is truly eating the world.
What else? What was your first internship like?