I’ve been interning at Protagonist for almost a year now. Protagonist is a technology start-up that uses natural language processing and proprietary machine learning models to provide insights and direction to companies and organizations based on their needs in various industries, including governmental agencies, corporations, and non-profit foundations. What intrigued me the most was how they were using their technology to improve our society. Their work with non-profit foundations is incredible, and you can see how their company culture propels this type of thoughtful and fulfilling work.
This experience has taught me a multitude of things. I’ve learned how to put my skills to use in practical settings, I’ve learned to collaborate with people in very different departments, and I’ve learned to create impactful messaging that communicates our efforts. One of the most exciting projects I worked on was an email campaign highlighting our product offerings in the financial services industry. It was a B2B campaign, and I was able to develop the entire campaign with supervision from my boss. In addition, I practiced developing impactful messaging that targeted a specific target audience.
Not only has this work been unique, but the people I’ve been able to work with have also been fantastic and inspiring. Protagonist is based out of San Francisco and Washington DC, but they have people working remotely from many different places, including Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and more. This has helped me gain a view of so many different perspectives. It was interesting to see how this all contributed to the diverse work that is done at the company. The CEO, Rita Parhad, and my direct boss and Executive Vice President, Jeff Marshall, have fascinating backgrounds. The most inspiring aspect is how much education they both have; Rita has a BA of Arts from Notre Dame, an MPA from Princeton, and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley; meanwhile, Jeff has a BA from Stanford, a Masters from Brown, and an MBA from UC Berkeley. Being exposed to such intelligent and driven people has inspired me to invest further in my education, leading me to inquire about MBA programs for the near future.
For anyone looking for internship opportunities, make sure to do your research. Look into the company’s work and see if it aligns with your values. Research the people that you may work with and see if their backgrounds inspire you. In terms of the interview process, make sure to be authentic and curious. Ask questions that will help you learn about the company culture and if it is the right fit for you. Ask questions that will help you understand if you will get what you need from it regarding skills and experience. An internship is an excellent opportunity to put your skills to use and prove yourself in your chosen industry. Put your best foot forward, be authentic, and never stop learning.