Dear College Students: Intern at a Startup

Hi, I’m the Redfin intern that apparently asked our CEO’s wife out. I wanted to share my experience here at Redfin in hopes of helping fellow college students find out what they want to do with their lives. I’m a senior this year at the University of Washington studying Computer Engineering.

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This summer marks my sixth internship. I worked at Northrop Grumman Space Technologies (NGST) doing software for four summers and KB Home doing e-marketing for another. I can very confidently say that I learned a lot at each one of them. It’s really hard to get a good feeling for something without first trying it, so interning will at least tell you what you don’t like. If all you learn is that you don’t like something, then hopefully you at least got paid well. ;)

I started interning thinking I’d go into software. I had the incredible experience of being a snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding, snowmobiling, soccer-playing teenager trapped in a cubicle for 40 hours a week, and I quickly decided that I didn’t want a desk job. I explored other industries such as investment banking, medicine, and marketing only to find that each of these industries would push me into a desk as well. For a long time I thought that fun at work could only be achieved away from a desk, until I started here at Redfin. Not only did I learn an insane amount about web development, product managing, etc, but I also finally figured out what I want in a career.

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I need a work place that I can become a part of. A work place that lets me be myself and lets me share a connection with my work and my coworkers. A work place where my coworkers can become my friends. A work place that doesn’t confine me or limit me. A work place where I can use the fun I have as energy to spend late nights at the desk. In my opinion, this place is a startup. For me, knowing that I’m working hard with and for the people around me makes working behind a desk easy. All of us here at Redfin are working hard to stir things up, and it feels great even when sitting behind that desk.

Before I go any further, I should say that Redfin is the only startup I’ve worked at, but I’ve heard about others’ experiences at startups as well. Startups have to prove that they can survive. They have to thrive when others say they will fail. That knowledge in and of itself is enough to rally me to kick some ass, sitting or standing.

If you’re a college student, then try interning at a startup. Had it not been for Redfin, I would have continued to think that all desk jobs suck. Perhaps I could have had a similar experience at a larger company, but this scenario seems less likely to me. Now, I just have to figure out if I’m ready to start my post-college life in Seattle (I’m originally from Los Angeles).

Bonus story: Working for a startup also means you get your hands dirty in lots of different places. At Redfin I’ve shipped code, managed products, organized company trips, answered tech support emails, contributed to a focus group, and last but not least, conducted a Redfin photo shoot on the streets of downtown Seattle. Here’s a photo of our marketing dude, Bahn, trying to avoid getting hit by a bus while carrying a Redfin sign in downtown Seattle.

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Seattle kudos to those of you that know what building this is in front of.

Discussion

  • John

    The library!

  • Kevin

    It’s the Seattle Library!

  • http://devblog.redfin.com/author/alex.loddengaard Alex Loddengaard
  • http://bigcities.cn/ Flexible houses

    Impressing library!!!

  • http://www.akbhomesucks.com KB Home Sucks

    KB Home just Google “KB Home Sucks”. KB will ignore your complaints. The Board of Directors does not care about the quality or the reputation. KB Home only interested in quick profits at your expense and time – with the cheap materials and undocumented workers at this job site. They will undervalue your home just to suit their short term business objective. There is no Lemon Law in California so you’re stuck with it. Years later they will still be in your home trying to fix what should have been done correctly in the first place. The Corporate greed still running high in America – it’s called KB Home. BTW Bruce Karatz the former CEO of KB faces up to 60 years in prison when he gets sentenced September 2010. Ask you salesperson about Bruce and his stock manipulation.