Every year, we bring on a class of summer interns to roam our San Francisco office and provide fresh perspectives, extra energy, and excuses to organize quirky off-sites (trampolining, cat cafes, and exploratorium visits, anyone?).
In previous years, interns have tackled interesting problems—from performance to iOS app feature launches—as part of our engineering and product management teams. And this summer we hired interns for the marketing, sales, customer success, and finance teams, too. Hailing from across the U.S. (and Canada!), these students made up our first class of business interns—ever.
Before they head back to school, we wanted to find out how their summer at Asana went, what they worked on, and what advice they’d give to other students who are interested an internship.
Meet the interns
Our first-ever “biztern” class worked across our entire business organization and represented a diverse range of schools and majors:
- Team: Customer Success (Customer Journey)
- School: Johns Hopkins + The Maryland Institute College of Art
- Major: MBA/MA Candidate in Design Leadership
- Interests: Building resilient cities, getting compliments, not fighting with her mentor
- Team: Marketing (Digital)
- School: UC Berkeley, Class of 2020
- Major: Business and Computer Science
- Interests: Canada, dogs, running, extreme calendaring
- Team: Marketing (Relationship)
- School: UC Berkeley, Class of 2018
- Major: Media Studies
- Interests: Korean skincare, sustainable/ethical fashion, becoming a top Amazon reviewer
- Team: Sales (Ops and Engineering)
- School: MIT, Class of 2019
- Major: Mathematics and Computer Science
- Interests: Michigan, writing poetry/creative nonfiction, freakonomics, dancing
- Team: Finance
- School: Cornell, Class of 2019
- Major: Policy Analysis and Management
- Interests: Drawing, podcasts, riding unicycles
What projects did you work on this summer?
Sofie: I loved working on an analysis of Asana’s competitors. I investigated, from a marketing and sales perspective, how we can position ourselves against them.
Divya: I did a project related to internationalization. It started off as a mini project, but turned into something bigger. I looked at where there’s room for Asana to improve sales in different countries and identified new targeted sales strategies.
Irene: I mapped out different user cancellation flows over competing products and evaluated how we can evolve our churn experience.
Omar: I worked on setting up an integration between two services that we use—one for recruiting and one for paying our bills—so that we can streamline the process by which we reimburse candidates when they interview at Asana.
Isa: I launched and ran the Instagram employee takeover. I created the schedule, helped participants brainstorm ideas for what to post, and generated analytics for how effective the posts were at driving engagement. I also wrote this blog post! (So meta.)
What surprised you the most about your internship at Asana?
Isa: I was so surprised by how thorough the onboarding process was. We’re only here for a summer, but we were onboarded to Asana’s core commitments, culinary program, and long-term business trajectory as if we’d be here for the next few years. We’re treated like full-time employees—even receiving all the same benefits, like a gym membership and professional coaching.
Omar: How impactful the work that I did was. Coming in, I thought I’d be given random grunt work, but instead my team really cared about my growth and gave me work that I took pride in doing. I did work that a full-time employee would do, so I know that my impact will extend beyond the short time that I was here.
Divya: The amount of visibility we have: There were multiple times when I saw a high-level meeting happening and asked if I could be in it. There was never any hesitation in saying yes, which really surprised me.
What was it like working with your mentor or manager?
Sofie: Before my internship started, my manager and my mentor set up a project in Asana for me with a few line items, but left the rest up to me. Together we came up with how all of my work would link together to form a deliverable that would be useful for different teams. I’ve learned a lot from my mentor, who’s an SEO specialist. She’s great at coming up with quantifiable ways to test our website and how we appear in search, so I learned how to back up claims that we make using data.
Irene: My mentor wanted us to co-create the experience and work on projects that I was excited about and would have an impact. He also knew I wanted to work closely with the User Experience Research team, so he really pushed me to make that happen.
Isa: On a more emotional note, my mentor has been a big sister type to me. I’ve had great conversations with her where she empowered me to act more intentionally, be brave, and reflect deeply on my working style.
How have you changed or grown this summer?
Irene: I learned to balance building rapport with professional credibility. It’s difficult and I’m still learning to do it well without feeling like I have to stifle my personality. I also learned the importance of iterating on my work faster by asking for feedback often.
Divya: I was pretty disorganized before this internship. Because we use Asana all the time, the company is super organized—and I picked up many organizational habits.
Isa: I now see the value in complete honesty and authenticity when communicating in the workplace. I’m pretty conflict-averse, and would usually keep my true thoughts to myself to avoid confrontation. I learned that just because you address an opposing point of view or a weakness doesn’t mean that there will be conflict. Especially because Asana encourages equanimity and mindfulness, it was easier than ever to share what I really think.
How did you connect with your team or the other interns?
Sofie: We got to meet the other interns through the many intern events. One time we went on a walk to get ice cream in doughnuts! We were able to connect beyond what our majors were or what kind of work we were doing.
Omar: I never felt like an intern—I was just another member of the team. At other companies, there isn’t that same level of camaraderie.
What’s your favorite memory from your internship this summer?
Sofie: The intern Q&A that we hosted and seeing Bay Area interns come to listen to thought leaders discuss important topics in tech. A lot of people asked about diversity in tech and other issues that are close to Asana’s heart.
Divya: My birthday! My team threw me a surprise birthday party, which was so cute. They set up a meeting with me on Google Calendar, and I walked into the meeting room with my laptop thinking that we were going to review some data. Instead, they surprised me with funfetti cookies and a really loud rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Omar: When we reached out directly to our CEO, Dustin, to ask him to lunch. At the Intern Q&A he mentioned the value in reaching out to people and taking risks as an intern, so the next day I suggested that we grab a meal with him. We were like, “Hey, this is the first year that Asana has business interns. Would you like to get dinner with us?” And he actually responded within a few seconds! So we got to spend an hour with him, and I can’t really imagine that happening at many other companies.
Do you have any advice for students applying to or starting internships?
Irene: Don’t feel as if you have to go through the normal chain of career fairs or applying online. I emailed someone on the UXR team directly asking if they were hiring interns. They didn’t, but I was directed to the customer journey team, which is how I met my mentor. Also, be proactive about following up. During my interview, I didn’t have an answer to questions I was asked. So after, I did some research and thinking and emailed him a more in-depth answer that showed my strengths and resourcefulness.
Omar: Be true to yourself, especially when interviewing. I was interviewing for a finance and accounting position, but I don’t come from that background. While interviewing, I emphasized my interest in learning those skills and my excitement for the work Asana does. I was really open and honest, and my team really appreciated that.
Divya: Even if a position doesn’t match your major perfectly, go for it anyway. I’m a computer science major and felt like I should only be applying for software jobs. I didn’t know that this type of role—sales engineering—existed in tech. There are always opportunities outside of the “normal track.”
Thank you to our 2017 Business Interns for this experiment gone right! They’ve all set the bar very high for our next #biztern class. For a further peek into their day-to-day life at Asana, check out their Instagram takeover.
Interested in interning at Asana? Check out our open university positions.