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Confessions of an eROI Summer Intern


Wednesday August 31, 2016

Dear Diary:


As I first entered eROI on Monday, June 27th, I didn’t know what to expect.

Conor Quigley, dev intern
By nature, I only think about things once they became relevant—but this uncertainty also stemmed from a wildly new environment and an unconventional tie to my new job. After recently finishing my freshman year at Stanford University, I was following my decade-long dream of living in Oregon and working as a web developer for my crazy uncle’s company. I had an adequate background in computer science, but knew very little about web development and even less about what I would be doing for the next 10 weeks…
As we gathered for the Monday morning meeting, the first thing that struck me was how happy and excited everybody seemed to be. And being not that far removed from my college sleep schedule, I didn’t feel fully awake until about 2 hours afterward. Even still, I couldn’t tell if it was my uncle’s overflowing exuberance or the invigorating culture of Portland—but nobody seemed to have the Monday blues that my spring semester classes at Stanford had so effectively acquainted me with.
Once we began exploring the schedule and structure of the internship, I gradually emerged from my grogginess and noticed how many “classes” we would be attending. I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed learning, so I initially wondered how worthwhile these classes would prove to be. I was already picking up on the legitimacy and organization of this internship, still I wondered how long eROI could shield us lowly interns from the mundane.
After a few weeks into the job, we were presented with our final intern project. And what a rather abstract request it was…double the size of the Emerging Leaders Internship Program (ELI). But being the overzealous group we were, the team proposed a complete redesign of the existing website and a reworking of the email and outreach strategies. I had been completing online courses on front-end development and had done only minor client-facing work, so I was almost entirely unfamiliar with the process of building a website. Despite this, I was confident that I could work efficiently enough that I would learn the process on the fly.

Fast forward to mid-August—

I had just finished my third 60-ish hour workweek and surprisingly…I hadn’t quite burned out! I just had to take more frequent breaks to play with the office dogs or eat a donut. Plus the exhilaration of fixing a bug always seemed to overcome the frustration of another one popping up.

Optimism aside, there was certainly struggle. Days before our presentation, it suddenly became clear that I wouldn’t have enough hours left to QA the site (even if I didn’t sleep at all!). The sheer excitement of completing this project, which had been consistently driving me to work late into the evening, had suddenly turned into bitter disappointment… Of course the site would be launched eventually, but I would never be able to take complete ownership and pride in its architecture. On a less selfish note, I also wouldn’t be able to deliver what the intern team had promised to ELI. This was a very real project, and if we were dealing with a real client, we would have been fired. I wasn’t used to the taste of failure and I hated it!
Still, after removing myself from the self-pity and frustration, I realized that failure too can have it’s value in my intern experience. I hated failure—that’s no surprise—but I could also learn from failure as much as with any of my online coding courses. Now, without the consequences of a lost client, I understand the immense scope of a website build. I understand the importance of clear communication between disciplines and the significance of timelines.

Even if I have an overwhelming distaste for it, failure is sometimes okay.1

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