Just Keep Swimming: Lessons from a Formstack Intern

Written by Lara Parker on August 3, 2012

Posted in Education

When I accepted a summer internship position at Formstack, I had no idea what to expect. Wait, they build forms? What does that even mean?

I assumed that I would learn countless lessons about writing content, pitching to the media, measuring social media, all while maybe figuring out exactly what a form builder is. What I didn’t expect was to become part of a family. Because that’s what Formstack is… a family.

There’s always been a certain stigma about interns. Interns get coffee, make copies, and answer the phone, all while giving the company a tax cut. It is often assumed that interns do the tedious and repetitive work that others don’t want to do. It’s all part of this professional “food chain”… you have to work your way up to the top, and if that means going to get coffee, so be it.  But at Formstack, I am not the “social media intern.” I’m Lara. And I didn’t just learn about social media, writing content, and pitching- I learned about myself.

Allow me to outline three main things:

1. It’s okay to not know what you want to do the rest of your life. You know those people who know exactly what they want out of life? They know just what job they’re going to have and exactly how they will land it. I am not that person. Yes, I am a public relations student, but I have no idea where I will end up when I graduate. Do I want to focus on media relations, employee relations, or maybe corporate communication?! There are endless possibilities and at age 21 I have no idea which path I want to take, and that’s fine. No, seriously. It’s fine.  I have learned that life is a journey – take it one day at a time. I once told my supervisor Chris Lucas, vice president of business development, that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. You know what his reply was? “I don’t either.”

2. Mistakes happen. They happen everyday. This is okay.  Without making mistakes, it is difficult to improve. Probably impossible. No one is perfect, not even your advisor. Everyone makes mistakes. You have to learn what you’re doing wrong before you learn how to do it right. Embrace your mistakes! Learn from them, move on, and do better next time. Don’t sweat those small mistakes. So what if you accidentally made a typo in that tweet or you accidentally kicked a power cord and unplugged everyone’s computer at the work desk – it happens.

3. Never settle. If you want a job that never feels like a job, then make it happen. If you want to work for a company that sees you as a person as opposed to an employee, then make it happen. Don’t settle for less than that.  You’ve got dreams, so chase them! At Formstack, they understand that I am a person and not just an intern. This is extremely important to me, and I now know that this is something I will always value when pursuing my professional career after graduation.

So I may not know exactly what I want to do with my life, but the important part is that I know what I DON’T want. My time at Formstack is irreplaceable.  The people I have met and my time here at Formstack will be instrumental in my future successes as a professional.

Formstack is a family. They support one another, they treat everyone with respect, they enjoy being together, and they help each other succeed while helping the company do the same. I feel tremendously privileged to have been able to become part of the family this summer.