Building a Great Digital Product Culture
In the last 10-15 years, tech companies have shifted their approach to 'digital'; delivering great products and services.Read more
I joined the US Somo team as a product intern in June as I finished my Masters degree at Northwestern University. As both my degree and my time as an intern at Somo wind down, there is plenty to reflect upon from my internship experience.
While I have some experience in graphic design and digital media, my primary education and experience comes from theatre. So, entering tech was fairly new to me. Through performing and producing theatrical productions, I found that my most fulfilling moments in that industry were opportunities in which I got to facilitate and be part of teams that brought meaningful experiences to our audiences. So, when I wanted to depart that world and enter into a new one, the product role appealed to me. From what I had read, product managers are the type of people who want to help others succeed, who want to give users special experiences, and who like to wear many different hats. In my short time with Somo, those traits have certainly rung true as even more is illuminated to me about the product role.
To start out, I spent some time immersing myself and gaining context on much of Somo’s work with Audi and VW. By shadowing Hannah Lee, Somo’s Senior Product Manager, I was able to spend the first few weeks of my time sitting in on meetings and gaining a fundamental understanding of the product role. Having only spoken and read about the position, it was great to finally engage with its mechanisms. One aspect of Somo’s that drew me to accepting an internship was the outward and vocal commitment that they have made to developing their staff and providing educational opportunities. In those first couple weeks, it became clear to me how Somo likes to welcome and prepare its new hires.
In the time since those early weeks, I have been given autonomy and responsibilities that elegantly allowed me to work with the tools and vocabulary of product management. For example, I have been able to write up problem statements, meet with developers and designers, and facilitate the creation of user facing interfaces. For now, most of my work has been centered around Audi and VW, but Somo offers a litany of exciting areas in which to work.
A typical week as a Somo product intern is structured between a series of meetings with various teams and personalized, individual work. For example, the ‘Premium Charging Experience’ team I work on works in two week design sprints, in which near daily stand up meetings, occasional sync ups with designers/developers, and grooming sessions to manage workflow all occur. Honestly, such a structure reminds me of my experiences working in theatre, where teams work together in small bursts that ultimately result in the debut of a new production. Or in Somo’s case, a new product.
When I go off to work on my own, I am usually figuring out what certain apps/tools/pages need to execute to be considered viable. To do this, it usually requires research on the issue, an understanding of where the developers/designers are, and writing clear and understandable requirements for the whole team.
Overall, I am so lucky to have found Somo, a place where I sincerely feel that my growth is being taken seriously, my goals are given an intentional path to completion, and I feel comfortable bringing the knowledge I have and my eagerness to learn to the table.