Sam’s Excuse As to Why No One Talks to Him at Parties Anymore

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Back in May, upon returning from my trek through the desert (pictured), I started my first day as a Product Management intern at Tasktop’s Austin office. My summer with Tasktop has been a valuable, irreplaceable experience. I’m certainly aware there’s no shortage of software outfits in Austin – I was born here when Kriss Kross was on the radio – but I can say with confidence that I spent this Summer with the best of ‘em.

 
I began the summer by learning about Tasktop as a company–the Way of Agile, release planning, and so on. I learned that there is a collaboration, but also demarcation between “product” and “marketing.” The product team gets the technology on the shelf, and marketing team gets it off the shelf (not that software is sold on shelves anymore). I also browsed the company blog, and was disappointed to learn that nobody will want to talk to me at parties anymore. We’re not exactly building Snapchat here.
 
Perhaps most importantly, I was able to watch Tasktop Sync in motion. Like we’ve said, ALM integration and reporting is not a sexy thing on a paper. It’s not even conceptually intuitive. Even with the world’s arsenal of whiteboards and sticky notes, it’s still not easy to give a five seconds or less version of “what it is and why”, which is important – but more on that later. 
 
Having said all that, watching Sync integrate for the first time was one of those rare 
moments of technological awe, like Portal 2, or when Google Maps circumvents Austin traffic for you. It’s that feeling deep in your gut that the future is here, and it is awesome. Complex, with many moving parts, yet seamless and useful.
 
This week, it’s back to school for me – I’m an MSIS candidate at the University of Texas School of Information. I have a theory about summer internships: our professors push us hard into internships for their benefit as much as our own. Of course the experience is enriching, but a student coming back to the school with the tales of the tech is invaluable for the professors, who might fine-tune their curricula to align with the industry; and for other students, who can know what to expect in future jobs and internships. So when I go back to class, this is what I’ll bring with me:
 
1. Tableau is awesome; Excel is ubiquitous. This is the way of the world. 
 
2. If they don’t get it in five seconds or less, you didn’t explain it well enough. Learning to simplify – when you need to tell “it” to people who haven’t been staring at “it” for the 20 hours that you have – is a universally crucial skill. From law to tech to education, it’s astounding what the five seconds or less rule can do for your productivity and communication skills.
 
3. Software is about the people, not the products. Well, it’s about both, but it’s mostly about the people.
 
On a related note, there has been a recent uptick in awareness around the problematic lack of diversity in the tech world. Creative ideas don’t always flourish in a room full of people who see the same movies, study the same curricula, and attend the same schools. However, I found Tasktop’s workforce to be truly global. 
 
Represented by a diversity of origin and experience, any newcomer to Tasktop will see that the varied provenance of individuals working together as a team is a terrific asset to the company. Not only are Tasktopians dedicated to bridging gaps between products, but also between the people who use them.
 
It was an enjoyable and enlightening summer with Tasktop and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to work and learn about Product Management. Here’s to a great semester!