Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Navigating Company Culture

There are actual studies on how culture can make or break a company. It’s crazy, right? Who knew that witty and quirky job titles, cold brew kegs and themed employee dress up days could be conducive to generating profit? According to Forbes, “When we talk about corporate culture, we are really talking about your organization’s ability – or lack of ability – to acknowledge trust and fear. We’re talking about your ability to manage the human energy in your shop as capably as you manage operational, financial and marketing issues.”

To me, culture is important for startups because it builds cohesion between the team. The culture needs to be intentional and not artificial either. Genuine relationships and partnerships need to be formed in order to generate success. There needs to be trust amongst employees, the freedom to take risks (and possibly fail), and positive reinforcement.

That is why hiring the best culture fit is right for a company. For a company to succeed, especially an early one, everybody needs to get behind the mission and be able to work together. Resonant leadership and effective teamwork is imperative to the success of any company. I managed to learn this within the first few days of my internship and how fitting into the company and getting to know everyone around me inspired me to do more and go above and beyond.

After observing for the first few days, I found it was very easy to fit in around the office. Everybody was generally younger and interested in meeting the interns, some of them sharing alma mater’s with us (unfortunately no fellow Beaver’s in my case :() or being from the same cities.

One easy tool that Verst leverages is donut.ai, which pairs people in Slack either weekly, biweekly or monthly. This is a free tool that any company or group can use. I think I’m going to try to incorporate this into my fraternity in this coming semester to promote a culture within our chapter and bring people who wouldn’t normally communicate closer together.

Another way culture shows through my internship is the communication. I have not once communicated with anyone via email – it has all been through Slack! It makes the correspondence seem more personal and it’s easy to give praise and recognition through the platform.

Oh – and inside jokes are always a fun way to bring people together! On our second day, the CEO (who sits inches away from the interns) affectionately dubbed us as “Intern Island”. With that title, we sought out props and decorations for our desk area which came with an inflatable bird, Birdy, a tapestry and a blow up palm tree.

(Birdy featuring my messy desk in the background.)

In all, I’m having a blast at my internship and the company culture is great! The best way to learn it and integrate yourself is to just TRY. Go out and talk to people you wouldn’t otherwise talk to. Ask somebody exactly what they do if you’re not very sure… because software engineers do some pretty complicated stuff. Be enthusiastic at all opportunities that come and immerse yourself in the machine that is a start-up.

P.S. Follow Intern Island on Instagram!