Updated: Sep 8
A leap of faith with a touch of whiplash: that is the best way I can describe my internship. This summer, I was the Student Enrollment, Operations Intern at the edTech startup called Noodle. They are a certified B-Corp that aims to lower the cost of higher education, leveraging technology to do so. With the well-designed internship program at Noodle, I walked out with a vastly expanded network, hands-on experience with relevant edTech software, and the opportunity to design and pitch an innovative capstone project with my intern cohort. To imagine how different my summer would have looked otherwise without this internship boggles my mind.
So, how did I become a Noodler? The answer: the violent urge for a helix piercing. Before thinking about how I’d like to spend the Summer of 2022, I had previously planned on continuing to work my part-time job at In-N-Out Burger as a Store Associate. The pay rate was great for Texas standards, and I assumed I wouldn’t have any other job opportunity after only one year of college, so I told them I’d come back to work for the summer. However, being a company with a strict dress code alongside my urge for a piercing, only one could remain. It came down to either getting the helix and finding a new job, or, not getting my dream piercing and continuing with the mediocre job I already had. With my friend in town for Spring Break, the urges got the best of me, and I got the piercing. I was happy, but now I had to scurry to find a new job in two months, or else I’d be broke for the upcoming Fall semester. That’s when the Career Center and Handshake became my best friends, as I scouted left and right for remote internships, leaving me with 50+ filled applications by the end of the scouting process. However, I realized I could’ve stopped after the fourth application I sent, since that was the application that successfully interviewed and accepted me to Noodle. As soon as I got the offer, I immediately accepted, and eagerly awaited the start of my remote summer internship.
After two weeks of rest, the day finally came and I got to start my internship. My first two weeks consisted of training from the Learning and Development (L&D) lead of my department. She explained to me how Noodle works, how to manage my time with remote work, and department-specific software. At this point, although I was still confused about what Noodle does, and what role my department plays at this point in my internship, I picked up and polished many new skills. Salesforce, TargetX, and Slate were the major platforms I worked on, whether it was to create reports, set up dashboards, or draw data from user list views. I also became familiar with Jira, as that is where I managed and organized my work. During this time, I got a lot of practice with using Excel and Google Sheets, as I’d reference these spreadsheets pulled from TargetX and Slate to create the reports in Salesforce. Also, with Noodle transitioning from the startup to the corporate phase, my L&D trainer pointed out the unique state of affairs the company currently had, which I instantly saw through the company culture and dynamic during my first few weeks.
In addition to training, I had coffee chats set up with Noodlers from various departments, where I could learn more about Noodle and its other departmental work. They did this to promote the spirit of continuous learning, but also to inform us interns about the other departments that exist, in hopes of encouraging us to explore other departments in the future should we want to transfer and grow internally within the company. I appreciated how Noodle encourages career growth by providing opportunities to employees internally; a rare phenomenon in the professional world these days. This internship also had a mentorship component, in which the company paired us with another Noodler to mentor us throughout our time with the company. I had an awesome mentor named Kris, who happened to also be in the same department as I (Student Enrollment), in which we met bi-weekly to discuss career goals, help with the capstone, and more. I found this mentorship to be very nurturing, as I was one of the younger interns within the cohort. To have someone help guide the start of my professional career and be so supportive of me was truly a blessing. Lastly, the weekly workshops that Noodle hosted were truly insightful. These workshops would cover a variety of topics, from how to maximize your coffee chats, how Noodle approaches product and design thinking, to creating presentations for executive teams. My favorite one would be the last from that list, as I didn’t know the execs (especially at Noodle) purposefully hated seeing text on screens, as text detracts attention from the speaker to the content on the slide. Thanks to this workshop, I learned how to speak from a slide with visuals only, and got to see with my own eyes how effective it was for audience attention/engagement during the capstone presentation. My training in combination with these supplemental development programs helped me grow as a young professional. I genuinely appreciated Noodle and the effort they put into the internship program to ensure it was mutually beneficial for the company and interns. I feel that most internship programs are like a one-way street, in which the company benefits from the intern’s labor, but the intern is stagnant in their professional development. But Noodle was different, as they gave so much professional support to us interns, and I feel as though I benefited more from Noodle than the other way around.
Asides departmental work, I remained occupied with the capstone project, in which we were expected to use design thinking to pitch an innovative idea to help the company further develop itself. Having taken the “Design Thinking & Innovation” learning community at Pace, I was ecstatic to apply what I’ve learned to a real opportunity, especially since the company was looking for and willing to carry out our ideas should we peak their interests; there were actual “stakes” this time. This project would be the final note we end our internship on, so our entire cohort put much effort into this project, especially since our presentation was to the executive team and the entire company. To summarize, our cohort split into three groups in which we tackled three different areas the company could focus on. The first on Human Resources initiatives, the second on Marketing and University Partnerships, and the third on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Our process started with an initial group brainstorming, in which we voted ideas out until we were naturally left with those three general areas. Then, we started empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing ideas within our individual groups. Groups were split based on department workload and personal interest in topics. Since I was the one who pitched the idea for CSR, which was initially proposed as an initiative to address the digital divide, I decided to be in the third group. As the capstone started to wrap up, and we were focused on the presentation of our ideas. We had all hands on deck, especially in the final stages of the capstone, which was helpful since the pitch to the executive team is what determines whether our work is of value to the company or not. In the end, I was in charge of speaking for a majority of my group’s portion. This included introducing and explaining our ideas at the beginning, summarizing our presentation at the end, and taking the lead during the Q/A portion of our presentation. All questions my group got asked at the end were all from the executive team; the CEO even interacted in the chat during the presentation AND asked my group a question at the end. This is the man who founded the Princeton Review and 2U, both prominent companies within the education sphere! To say the capstone went phenomenally would be an understatement. Overall, I’d say that this project helped me grow as a design thinker, public speaker, and professional. The capstone was definitely a highlight of my Noodle internship experience.
This summer I juggled the Noodle internship, four summer classes, and a social life to the best of my abilities. Although I couldn’t hang out with friends as much as I wanted to, the sacrifice I made toward my academics this summer was worth it. I not only got ahead in credits for my degree plan, but I also gained valuable connections, recommendations, and experience for my professional career, in addition to earning money (better money at that). My departmental work gave me detailed insight into the edTech industry, and with the impression our capstone presentation made, I hope to see the ideas we pitched being taken on in Noodle’s future.
Having completed this internship at such an early stage in my academic and professional career, it is too soon to say that I would like to commit to working with Noodle or the edTech industry; I still want to explore and experiment with other industries outside of it. However, this experience has made me open to continue working in it should any other industries not interest me, as I LOVED my time at Noodle; I could continue working for Noodle and simply transfer to a more major-related department within. What is unique about the edTech industry is that there is space for anyone in edTech, no matter the background, hence why I still managed to fit in despite not being an Education or Computer Science major. However, I would like my next internship to be something more directly related to my major in Digital Marketing or Business Analytics, just to explore all my options, as I would hate to restrict my career potential. At the end of the day though, I am happiest about taking that leap of faith and getting that helix piercing, as that’s how I ultimately became a Noodler :)