Published: Aug. 9, 2018 By

Growing up, I learned fairly quickly that TV does not perfectly reflect real life. Grad school for me hasn’t been much like it was for Elle Woods - where are the video essays? So, when I landed an internship at a high tech company, I was surprised to find that it reminded me a lot, like a lot a lot, of HBO’s Silicon Valley. Snacks? Check. Bring your dog to work? Check. Jeans and T-shirts? Check.

Kendall Carroll and other NetApp interns

Kendall (third from right) and other NetApp Interns

Beer on Tap? Check plus. From my cubicle view, this internship was already looking drastically different my previous career as a teacher. 

I realized quickly that as someone marketing data storage software, I sure didn’t know anything about data storage software. I needed to learn, and fast. I started seeking out meetings from anyone who would patiently explain technology to a non-technical person. I read and re-read blog posts about virtualization, DevOps, and service providers. In the beginning, it was frustrating having multiple Wikipedia articles open for all of the different tech acronyms that I was learning, but looking back, I wish that I had been more patient with myself. I underestimated the time that it takes to learn the different processes and products of a company. I had to patiently be a student of NetApp before I could be a contributor to NetApp. Now that I understand (sort of) what a virtual desktop infrastructure is, I’m able to add value. I’ve been working on a project to enhance the storytelling and communication of internal sales wins with the end goal of enabling the sales team to win with our new products. If I didn’t know the difference between compute and storage, I wouldn’t have been able to even start my project.

Dog in the office

An office dog enjoying office life


Additionally, the combination of all of the different MBA core classes helped me to more broadly understand the background strategy behind product marketing. I needed to know the reasons why a company would rather incur an operating expense than a capital expense or how to assess the market potential for a new product, understand the channel's influence on our sales, and how to measure our performance given the data. Further, I needed to be able to take all of those different pieces into account to create a cohesive marketing strategy. The MBA provided me with the skills to take a more comprehensive view of business activity-- an essential skill for my role in product marketing.

Overall, I think that taking my MBA learning out into the world didn’t mean that I necessarily knew everything that I needed to know to be successful in a business job. I still needed to learn about the company, the people, and the products before I’d be able to add to the team. What I have gained at Leeds is the ability to take an intentional learning approach when joining a new organization. Leeds has prepared me to ask the right questions, listen for when something seems out of place, and view the organization with a broader scope.