This success story is part of a series profiling people who leveraged their college internship experience into a full-time job. This interview features Julia Dalton, a product development and marketing professional.
Julia, what college did you attend?
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
What year did you graduate from college?
Where did you complete an internship?
The company was called MonsterCommerce. It was a smaller startup company of about 20-30 people who provided ecommerce software, web design and online marketing services to small businesses looking to establish an online presence.
In 2006, MonsterCommerce was acquired by Network Solutions and the products and services are now available under the Network Solutions brand.
How did you find/land your internship?
Prior to the summer after my junior year at SLU (Saint Louis University), I visited the career center within our business school in search of internships. After reviewing a number of internship openings available, I saw the MonsterCommerce internship description and decided it was a position something I might be interested in. I then worked with the career center counselors to perfect my resume and applied for the internship.
The next morning at 9 am I received a call from the CEO of the company to schedule an interview. Later that week, I found myself in the MonsterCommerce office participating in an interview with their CEO and HR manager. Within a few weeks, I had accepted an internship offer and immediately began working with the company.
What type of work did you do during your internship?
I performed a variety of tasks when I first started, including client services, billing, writing, and online marketing. After several weeks I transitioned into a role working with Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising campaigns as well as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is another online marketing tactic. I stayed in the online marketing department for the majority of my employment, eventually being promoted to the Director in my second year of full time employment.
What was one significant thing you learned about working during your internship?
Because we were a small company in terms of the number of employees, things moved very quickly, decisions could be made as a result of a conversation as opposed to several meetings, and employees at every level had many responsibilities. One of the most important insights I acquired while working at that company was the fact that people are truly your most important asset. Motivating people and creating an environment where people welcome challenges and are passionate about what they do is something that a lot of companies fail to do well.
At MonsterCommerce, the motto was truly “work hard, play hard.” With a small team, each person has to carry their own weight and then some, so in order to be truly effective, you have to build a team and a sense of community. To do this, MonsterCommerce would do things such as planning a number of fun events throughout the year, providing a wide variety of snacks and games within the office, and maintaining a “Culture Committee” whose purpose was to focus on cultivating an enjoyable work environment.
The leaders of the company were also able to recognize that building a team of like minded people who will excel at a challenge isn’t just hiring the best of the best, but also remaining diligent at maintaining a productive team. That requires frequent evaluations and feedback with team members and enough discipline to let an employee go when expectations and standards are not met.
How did your internship lead to a job offer?
At the conclusion of my summer internship, I was offered a part-time position with the company since I was still finishing up my last year at SLU. I continued to work at the company while going to school and focused on continually asking for more challenges and important projects. Upon graduation, I was offered a full time position in their Online Marketing department, focusing specifically on Paid Advertising and Pay Per Click (PPC). Within the first year I was promoted to the Team Lead of the department and then eventually the Director.
Throughout the course of my employment at MonsterCommerce, I became good friends with the owners of the company. After remaining with the company for a year following the acquisition by Network Solutions, the owners left the company to start a new venture. The close relationship with the owners and my history of performance at MonsterCommerce has allowed me to once again be part of a startup company, this time being one of the leaders as opposed to coming in as an intern and working up the ranks. Our new company is called Juggle.com and I lead much of our online marketing and project management functions within the company.
Any words of wisdom you would like to share with current college students?
Keep an open mind about the jobs and internships for which you apply. Sometimes the best jobs are things you may not have experience with, or may not be 100% in line with your major, but those facts should not prevent you from applying. I had no real experience in online marketing or ecommerce before applying to MonsterCommerce and that position has led to the career I have had for 7 years now.
Broadening your idea of what jobs might be interesting to you can and will provide you with more opportunity to find something you love and around which you can build a career.
Julia, thank you for sharing your advice and experience.
Julia is now VP, Product, at CrowdSource.