By: Kayla Ramans
This summer I interned at a creative marketing agency, Zooka Creative, in the Silicon Valley in California. As part of the social team, I got to help run and manage our client’s social media accounts. I also got to experience what it is like to intern in such a progressive part of the country. Growing up in Silicon Valley across the street from Steve Jobs’ childhood home, I am somewhat used to the progressive lifestyle, but I’ve never experience the work life first hand. I cannot speak for every company in the Silicon Valley, but I just wanted to share five of my own personal experiences from what I observed this summer.
- We Dress Casual
So first things first, you may have heard that dress code is less strict and that is totally true. Dressing up for work is not a requirement and some people still do and some people don’t. Although I do believe in “dress to impress” and “look good, do good,” I’ll admit that one day I did wear leggings. However, most days I usually wore a casual dress with sandals, Converse or Birkenstocks. Jeans are acceptable pants for men and women. The rules may be lax, but everyone always looked presentable. When clients were in the office or if we were going on site visits, of course it was custom to dress up for the occasion. The point was to be comfortable at work in what you were wearing.
2. “We Aren’t Tech, but We’re Still Tech”
As a creative agency, Zooka isn’t technically a technology company like much of the Silicon Valley. However, we did dabble in tech anyways. When running our social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, we had to use technology to get our content out there. With tech companies in our backyards, we were constantly trying to incorporate new technology into our ads and marketing. For example, in my short time there in the summer, Zooka filmed a commercial with a drone, set up a Virtual Reality room and bought a 360 camera. Being surrounded by new innovations helped generate creative ideas for our social media. I was able to use all these tools in my time at Zooka. Not only did I come in contact with technology itself, but also the tech companies. Pinterest invited my social team over for breakfast at the headquarters to discuss the direction of our account (unfortunately I didn’t get to go). Sometimes I would eat lunch at Samsung, which was just down the street. Other co-workers would eat lunch at Google on their breaks. Moral of the story is that tech is everywhere.
3. We Work Out
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, yep, we worked out. Mid-day around lunch time, we would go outside, do some cardio, strength exercises, stretching and then return inside for the rest of the work day. Rain was never an issue since California is in a drought, unfortunately and fortunately. It was nice to get outside in the fresh air for a bit. Many people at the office basically sit (or stand thanks to standing desks) at desks all day working at a computer which can make them tired and unproductive. The mid-day workouts woke me up and gave me energy to finish the rest of the work day. Personally, I felt like it made the workplace more productive and happier. No one was ever forced to work out, but everyone was always welcome.
4. We Work From Home
On Wednesdays we worked from home — sometimes. ‘Work from Home Wednesdays’ (WHW) were my new favorite day of the week this summer. Like I said before, everyone does their work on a computer at the office making it easy to do work from home. Most Wednesdays were ‘Work from Home,’ but about once a month my team had to work from work. There was always a team in the office and the office was always open in case you needed to come in that day. WHW had many benefits for our company. No one had to fight traffic to get to work, which can take a good chunk out of your work day. Also, if you need to make an appointment, you could schedule it on a Wednesday when you know you’d be home and make up those hours later in the day. On WHW I would usually meet up with my friend Megan, who interned at Google this summer and we would do work at a coffee shop. Zooka has an internal messaging system, Slack, so that everyone is connected making it easy to communicate with each other at home or in the office.
5. We like to have fun!
A main principle that many companies in the Silicon Valley live by is wellbeing. The work space should be a happy, productive, friendly space. This was definitely true at Zooka. When I walked in on my first day, my desk was covered in decorations. Everyone at the office made an effort to come talk to me at some point of my first day. They even gave me a jean jacket with the Zooka logo on the back and yes, I did bring it to Penn State with me. My co-workers were all very diverse people, however we all got along and many of them hung out outside of work. I joined their softball league and every Tuesday my co-workers and I would play other company leagues (usually lose) and celebrate after. Zooka has a very cohesive work environment where everyone gets along. People love coming to work because it is a happy place. At the end of my summer, they threw me a “Goodbye Intern BBQ.” Many of my advisors gave me advice for the communications world and life in general. I will always be grateful to Zooka for truly giving me the experience of a lifetime.