Lauren Whitehead is a sales development intern working out of the NYC office. In the story below, she shares her first assumptions of Demandbase and a snapshot into her summer at the company.
College students are always asked what their major is, then are forced to play 20 Questions of, “So you want to be a…”
As an English and Professional Writing double major, the latter half of these conversations are never fun.
“No,” I always respond, “I don’t want to be a teacher.”
This assumption has always motivated me to think outside the box, using my writing and analytical skills for something beyond the classroom. How? Well, that answer always seemed ever-changing or, more often, nonexistent. So when April sped by and the calendar flipped to May, the end to my junior year at SUNY Cortland was no longer an abstract concept but a reality. I was once again faced with the pressing question: what now?
As if met with some universal sign, I was introduced to Demandbase. “They’re a cutting edge Account-Based Marketing firm; you need to look into them,” Alana raved. A family friend and a current salesperson at the company, I took her word, but not before chuckling to myself.
At this time I couldn’t understand how something like ABM could be so “cutting edge.” Little did I know that I had fallen into the same trap of assumptions, misjudging the field and the people I would meet within it. I had daydreamed of every stereotypical office setting used in TV shows and movies: tightly packed cubicles filled with overworked employees dressed in neatly pressed suits, a heavy silence lingering forebodingly over the floor. So, on the first day of my internship I boarded the 7:40am Metro North train to Grand Central in a two piece grey suit and close-toed heels, playing the part of the business professional I assumed I should: tidy, bland.
30 minutes later I found myself shuffling out onto the street into an endless ocean of people: businessmen and women striding, eyes front, arms swinging as though on a mission, tourist groups craning their necks to gawk at skyscrapers like baby birds waiting to be fed. The office’s location between Times Square and Bryant Park made every commute its own adventure, free concerts and outdoor movies were held on the park’s lawn, dozens of food festivals suddenly appeared overnight, and street performers occasionally made appearances on crowded sidewalks. I was literally and figuratively walking into a place of endless possibilities.
This rich sense of culture didn’t stop at the office door, but carried into everything Demandbase did and stood for. Walking into the office for the first time, I felt out of place in my overly-official getup. I seemed to clash with the sleek and modern design of the space with its exposed brick walls, steel beams, bright orange couches and bean bag chairs, cold brew on tap (yes, on tap), and felt dart board that hung proudly on the dining room wall.
I would soon learn that the office’s design translated into the place’s overall atmosphere and most importantly the employees’ energy: vibrant, exciting, eager. A naturally shy person, I was nervous to put myself out there, hesitant to ask questions and make small talk. Kevin Rooney, my manager, made it a point to involve me in every lunch and meeting, giving me an immersive experience, which prompted me to open up and fully embrace this new environment. I quickly began to feel a part of the SDR team and the little family they had made for themselves. Coworkers like Alexandra Mauri didn’t see through me as “just an intern” but challenged me, teaching me about Demandbase’s solutions, having me shadow calls and network with high ranking members of the organization. Nathaniel Udell, the manager of the sales engineer department, introduced me to another division of the company and took the time to schedule 1:1s to teach me about the inner workings of our technology. No matter a person’s title, every member of the Demandbase community was eager to help and truly believed in the value of the products they sold.
It didn’t take long to understand the ingenuity and value of the work being done here. I felt as though I was enrolled in a college course, constantly learning and being assigned meaningful projects, even working with the onboarding platform given to new SDRs. By the end of my stay there I felt confident in my knowledge of Demandbase’s products and my status as an asset to our team. Coming to work was something I looked forward to. Bagel Wednesdays and free lunch Fridays became staples of the week and a bonding opportunity where weekend adventures and corny jokes were shared.
Familiarity and comfort are synonymous with one another. As time passed the comfort I felt at Demandbase seemed rooted in me, and it was hard to imagine that in just a few months I’d be back at college, walking the halls of the English department rather than the New York office. I’d never had this strong of an attachment to any internship I’d done before. Yes, I’ve liked them and the people, but this was different.
Now, when the routine is enacted, I wait eagerly for the expected question: “So, what’s next?”
“Hopefully I’ll be at Demandbase, it’s an Account-Based Marketing firm in the city,” I respond, running through the explanation of who we are and what we do in my head.
“What’s that,” they ask, as if following a script.
I take in a breath and smile. “Well, it’s kind of complicated, are you ready?”