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My misfit major created a perfect match with my summer internship at Looker

By Sidney Stefani
Customer Success/Professional Services Intern at Looker
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

August 16, 2018 — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo Above: Looker intern, Sidney Stefani, hula hoops on the Looker Balcony during the weekly Danceful Downtime in Santa Cruz. Contributed.)

In my junior year of college, a professor once said, “it is very rare one enjoys their boss, work environment, and job task. Most people are only lucky enough to enjoy two of the three.”

After hearing this, I had low expectations for the workforce especially about starting an entry level position after college. My internship at Looker Data Science this summer has caused me to start thinking differently about if this was really true.

I joined the Looker Team with a background in Liberal Arts Engineering Studies, an uncommon major with only 80 enrolled students in 2018 (out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s 20,000 undergraduates). Liberal Arts Engineering Studies, otherwise known as LAES, is a rigorous degree that combines the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts. Students choose a concentration from engineering and liberal arts, then pitch to the LAES Dean the synchronicity of these concentrations turning into a viable degree. My engineering concentration is industrial design; I take classes from the Industrial Engineering department focusing on project management and efficiency. My liberal arts concentration is creative technology, which combines a blend of music, film, and graphic communication courses. Every quarter, LAES students take a “real life” project based course. The LAES Program is an innovative program giving students a taste of a workplace environment, and points to the future of collaborative learning.

My misfit of a major created a perfect match with my summer internship at Looker in Santa Cruz, although it took me awhile to find it. I sorted through other internships from manufacturing to the biomedical industry and none felt quite right for me. My counselors advised against this pickiness, but the drive to obtain an internship where I could enjoy my environment, boss, and job task stayed with me. I discovered Looker at Cal Poly’s career fair and realized I could have a future there. Weeks later, I accepted my role at Looker as an Operations Intern. Specifically, this role included: implementing goal tracking systems for employees to refer to each day they start work, creating governance for file allocation, and data scrubbing.

Out of the many things I learned through my first internship, an important one was the payoff of diving into an unknown assignment. One of Looker’s core values is to “Do,” they encourage trying new things, despite the fear of failure. In the beginning of my internship, it was daunting to start new projects or to venture into new problems that need solutions. Looker culture teaches individuals to dive in and ask for help if need be. Asking for help turned out easier than expected. During my first week, many Lookers saw the opportunity to say hello to an unrecognized face. Some even went as far as giving me an impromptu presentation about the Looker product, which helped familiarize me with the company and its employees.

Looker attracts talented individuals with diverse interests, hobbies, and backgrounds. In fact, a running joke frequently emerges that Looker only hires witty and humorous individuals. Besides my hilarious coworkers, one of the best aspects of my internship was Danceful Downtime. Every Friday a musical genre is announced and participants meet outside on the fourth floor balcony. Party hits and dance tunes play from a speaker and Looker employees begin to dance and sing to the music. My personal favorite activity was hula hooping for this twenty-minute dancing break. Danceful Downtime is not something that occurs at every workplace, but it should be seriously considered. Despite all the fun, Looker employees are serious about work. The unusual breaks refresh employees and give a well needed reset for the hard working Lookers.

I realize how lucky I was to intern at a young, exciting, and growing company for my first workplace environment. It made me realize there is nothing too scary around the corner after graduation, and my professor could be wrong. It is possible to find a job where you enjoy the boss, the work, and the environment.

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