First Thing’s First, Coffee!
Since my internship is somewhat atypical, with no set agenda or job description, I thought I’d give you a brief outline of what a day at the DEC looks like for me.
9:00 AM: Forever: the time it takes (or feels like) to brew coffee in the morning.
Because the DEC is open 24/7 to many of our members and opens at 8:00 AM for the rest of the community, it is sometimes necessary to brew a second round of coffee by the time I arrive. When this is the case, I take about 30 minutes to refill all the coffee and caffeinate myself. Other times, I’ll simply arrive and fuel my coffee addiction. When I’m lucky, there will even be some homemade muffins or cookies waiting for me.
Did I mention there’s a fridge full of wine and a keg? Oh, and you know the thing you see on TV where people are writing on transparent dry erase boards all over the place? Yeah, that’s actually a thing. Once the caffeine has kicked in, I wander around to make sure that everything is in place. I straighten out the meeting rooms and ensure that the piles of business books and magazines are neatly laid out throughout the space. I then go talk to my supervisor, Emmanuel, about what my project for the day will be.
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM:
As I previously mentioned, I do not have a set agenda and though there are specific tasks I am assigned, I am left with the freedom of creating a lot of the projects I work on. The wide array of tasks I have worked on so far include: working with the community manager to brainstorm ideas on how to make better use of the space, including how to decorate the interior while on a non-profit budget (the DEC has very inspirational artwork and is often photographed so we must make sure the space always looks presentable), I’ve also worked on our CRM by entering data into Salesforce, and I have created a social media marketing calendar by conducting research on what types of content are most engaging and what the ideal posting times are for each social media platform. Recently, I have been researching online marketing tools for small business’ inbound marketing and I’ve been interviewing our current members and entrepreneurs to gain insight on their start-up journey and figure out what role the DEC has played in their experience. For the next few weeks, I have planned to use the interviews I have conducted to create a blog for the DEC website, I will look for ways that we can improve the UI design of the website, and conduct market research on local co-working spaces.
12:00 to 1:00 PM: Never underestimate the importance of staying properly caffeinated!
I’ll admit, I have a problem. But who wouldn’t when you get free, unlimited access to some of the best coffee in all of Dallas?!
Anyway, once I’ve refilled my mug, I cover the front desk while the other intern goes on his lunch break. Here, the progress of my project is often interrupted by members’ requests to play them in ping-pong (very important, it gets the creative juices flowing), members pitching their ideas to me (because I’m young and know “what’s popping on snap”), and clients seeking an informal tour of the DEC.
1:00 PM: Elvis Time
I usually take a short, 30-minute break at this time. This consists of running to Tiph’s, the cookie and ice cream shop down the street, and then getting free life advice and guitar lessons from the local Elvis impersonator that sits outside of our building.
1:30 to 3:00 PM:
Depending on the day, I either take this time to finish up any tasks I was assigned, update our social media accounts, or to walk around and get to know our members by conducting short interviews and helping the companies with anything they may need.
On Wednesdays, we pitch.
With the expectation of Wednesdays, this is generally how I spend my day at the DEC. Every Wednesday from 9 – 10 AM, the DEC hosts 1 Million Cups, a pitch event created for start-ups to find investors, team members, and mentors. Following this event, we network over coffee and pastries and offer tours throughout the entire day.
8:00 to 11:00 PM:
I decided to work at the DEC part-time so that I have time to work on freelance projects and make some money on the side. After spending time with my family, eating dinner, and going on a run (or taking a nap), I spend this time doing remote marketing work for a start-up company and preparing for another day at the DEC!
Thus far, the most important thing I’ve learned is to always say yes! Say yes to everything; there’s nothing you’re too good to do. Even if it’s not what you want to do, do it to the best of your ability because the connections and relationships you build along the way will help you later on. Whether it’s agreeing to do a photo shoot for someone’s clothing line or creating banners and brochures. By following this advice, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many Dallas tech and start-up events outside of the DEC, a business conference that was filled with renowned speakers and successful entrepreneurs, and I’ve secured a remote internship for the time that I will be studying abroad next semester.