Internship at VA Web Development Company

Week 10 Blog Post: Final Thoughts on Summer Internship

This is my day at inQbation and for the last blog post, I decided to do an overview of the internship experience. I’ll start with the company itself. inQbation is a small sized company, and while it couldn’t be strictly called a startup (founded in 2007), the atmosphere was more like a startup.

Everyone in the company was friendly and there were no strict rules. There was no need to be in formal attire or have a manager directly supervise you. Everyone was independent and did their own tasks while coordinating with others to make sure the entire project would be completed.  If I could summarize the overall feeling it would be; do your work and do it well. Otherwise, have fun while you work (we watched so many World Cup matches).

The biggest eye opener for me was seeing how a company could work when it’s workforce was distributed. Our company employees were in two locations so it was interesting (although a bit of a struggle at times) to see how the communication worked. We used Google chats for day to day communication and GoToMeetings. While this definitely doesn’t replace face to face meetings, it was effective. Only when technical difficulties bogged up the process did any real problems begin to appear.

Another interesting point to see was that our company was split into two main parts: one side that was client focused and one side that was an R&D lab. The client side worked with mostly government and non-profit organizations to help them (re)build their websites. We usually used CMS systems such as WordPress or Drupal to create the sites. During my time, the focus was on a CoP for Georgetown University’s CIED. I was not directly involved but I attended the discovery meetings and the project time was perfectly in sync with my internship period.

Project wise, when I started, I was originally going to work on Bizpulse, SEOQ and some of the other miscellaneous tasks. However, I ended up working solely on SEOQ. While I did do beta-testing for Bizpulse, the project was put on hold as we decided the potential of SEOQ was much larger. Plan to go to a WordPress conference in New York were also put on hold to devote our efforts to SEOQ.

I actually preferred that I ended up solely focusing on one area. For a 10 week internship, from learning about the company to the the specific project, I found that time passed by really quickly. Spending all my time on one project was for the best because then I could really learn the subject matter and give input. While I’m far from being a professional at SEO, I can communicate using the technical jargon and I can give basic advice regarding the subject. I would say breaking down the 10 weeks:

Week 1-2: Learning about the company, deciding what projects I was most interested in, learning basic  SEO, going to CIED discovery (to understand our basic client side knowledge)

week 3-6: Really diving into SEO, pulling SEOQ back up (more on this below), choosing a LMS and theme, writing the SEO education section, learning some HTML, CSS, PHP and WordPress, client case studies

Week 6-10: Finishing SEO Education section, starting sprints, blogging (a LOT), learning how to wireframe

To be honest, the intermediate 3-6 weeks were a bit discombobulated because communication was a bit of an issue. It wasn’t until the 8th week when we decided to put the whole lab on SEOQ did we finally make measurable progress. That being said, on my part, the 3-6 week interval was not wasted. I learned a lot about SEO but also a lot about what can go wrong with a project. To be cliche, failing is the first step to success.

The last two weeks were really when we started honing in on SEOQ. While I couldn’t contribute too much on the technical and developer side, I was able to see how agile development and scrum worked. While the developers worked, I also go to see how to market the product. We needed to gain a customer base so we needed to use marketing campaigns to push our idea and make it viral.

Overall, this has been a valuable summer experience for me. June, I didn’t even know what SEO was other than what it stood for or what WordPress could do other than serve as a blogging platform. Two months later in August, I am writing educational courses on SEO,  blogging to keep up to date on the SEO news and understanding how WordPress can be used to build an entire site. Thank you to everyone at InQbation for making this a great summer!