A note from Founder / CEO David Ulevitch: Building a world-class technology company isn’t just about hiring the best executives or engineers, although certainly that’s part of it. It’s also about creating an environment where every individual across the organization — sales, marketing, engineering, operations, support and finance — will consistently strive to do better, achieve more, inspire others and help the company increase velocity. We make no exception for our interns, who are smart, talented and passionate people eager to make the Internet better. And we usually end up learning a thing or two from them in the process. Here’s one star intern’s take on her summer with us.
Three years ago, when I told my parents that I wanted to get my degree in International Relations, they were less than enthused. “International Relations?” they questioned; “Does it get any more broad than that? What exactly do you plan to do with that degree?” As parents who love me and care about my future success (and pay the hefty Stanford University bill each year), they had every right to demand these answers; but as a freshman thoroughly enjoying college life and all it had to offer, I didn’t have the answers they were seeking. I really loved my classes, and I knew that the International Relations (IR) major was the right choice for me, but with such a broad field of study I found myself with absolutely no idea what I would do post-graduation. I’m not pre-med or an engineer––the sight of blood makes me dizzy–– and I can’t program computers for the life of me. And the mere thought of law school gives me a headache. What does someone like me do after school?
Fast-forward to March 2012. I was a junior studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, and for all intents and purposes, I was having the time of my life. It was during my 10-week stint in Europe that I dove head first into the internship search, hoping that something ––despite the fact that I still wasn’t sure what kind of work I wanted to do –– would eventually catch my eye. Early on in my search, I stumbled upon a job listing on the Stanford Career Center website posted by a company I had never heard of––OpenDNS. The listing that caught my eye was for a marketing and PR internship, and when I explored the company’s website and publications, I discovered an organization comprised of smart, passionate people who loved to work hard––and play hard. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to be a part of OpenDNS, but as an IR major, I didn’t think a tech company would have room for me. Despite my hesitations, I submitted my resume, and three Skype interviews and a lunch date later, I was an OpenDNS employee. I was thrilled and proud, but I was also nervous. Where did I fit into a tech company? Would my “soft” skill-set be needed or used at all? Would I spend all summer getting coffee and stamping envelopes?
Today, as I sit and reflect on the past 5 months with OpenDNS, I can hardly imagine a time when I ever felt uncertain about my role at this company. For the record, I did stamp a few envelopes, but my internship has been so much more than that. From day one, OpenDNS has made me a part of the team. I was held to the same standards of excellence that were demanded of everyone else, and was given responsibilities equal to those of full-time employees. I was entrusted with communicating directly with OpenDNS customers about their experience with our service, writing press releases and blog posts, overseeing various customer outreach programs, and managing and organizing content for the company’s Facebook page. That’s a lot of responsibility for an intern, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.
Throughout my time at OpenDNS, I have never felt overlooked or written-off because of my status as an intern. Rather, I’ve felt as if my ideas and suggestions are welcomed and always given serious consideration. Additionally, because of the relatively flat corporate structure of OpenDNS (and many other start-ups) I’ve had the rare opportunity to get to know almost everyone in the company, including the CEO. The office environment here at OpenDNS fosters teamwork, creativity, and innovation, and I feel lucky to have worked so closely with such smart, talented people.
Despite the all of the wonderful things about working at OpenDNS––and trust me, the list could go on and on; did I mention the catered lunches, trips to Giants baseball games, office happy hours, and fully stocked kitchen?––my single favorite part about working here has been what I’ve learned about myself. OpenDNS has proved to me that the tech industry has room for everyone, regardless of your skill set or field of study. I am not a computer programmer, nor will I ever be, but this internship has given me the confidence and passion to pursue a career in an industry that I previously considered to be off-limits. For the first time in my life, I have a sense of clarity and direction as I think about my future, and I owe it all to the talented, hard-working people at OpenDNS. I am so grateful to have had this experience, and I’m genuinely sad to see it come to an end.
Thank you, OpenDNS, for the best summer of my life.