I met a man who knows the feminine cycle more than the average woman. (That’s boss, by the way.)
That’s one of the things you encounter from interning at a feminine care start-up. Of course, PSLove (www.pslove.co) has taught me more than tampons and PMS – it has given me a glimpse into the world of entrepreneurship, the privilege to interact with ambitious and grounded people, the training in copywriting and sales. It has given me the opportunity to embrace my creativity and my business background. It has been pretty intense, but extremely fruitful.
Before the internship, I took pride in my ideas. Then I realized I needed to be grounded as well.
I have always been attracted to interdisciplinary ideas: how concepts from one dimension can be applied to ideas in another. As someone who revels in imagination and creative thought, the relationships between ideas fascinate me. As the word ‘creative’ suggests, they have the power to make something real out of words on paper. This is why I find much allure within the notion of business-making.
But in the heat of the action, I realized that talk is cheap.
“Social media giveaway!” Lots of viral potential, but poor execution killed it.
“Outsourcing!” Good to make things more efficient, but turned out that it was too expensive.
“New website!” “New product!” “Viral post!” Sometimes the simplest ideas make for hardest work. As my founders say: Execution is key.
Another thing that inspired me was the entrepreneur’s fighting spirit.
Do you know why the bulldog’s nose is pointed backwards? (Imagine exhaling air into your face.) It all started with a sport in England many years ago, when bulldogs were pitted against bulls.
“His short, flat nose enabled the Bulldog to breathe while holding onto the bull’s snout. He needed to be tenacious to hang onto the bull no matter how much the bull tried to shake him off.”
The first few months of operations was when I experienced the reality of being part of a young start-up. Sure, there was the flexible working hours, with nobody to answer to, and no office politics to deal with. “You’re a boss now!”
But soon, you realize your customers are expecting orders on Monday. You are monitoring your marketing metrics, and there’s a dip in engagement. So what do you do? Burn your midnights. Burn your weekends.
Instead of bosses, you have to answer to your many existing and potential customers – they who are the lifeblood of your business. And even if you cannot answer to yourself, you still have to answer to your employees (or the young and impressionable intern).
Instead of appreciation, sometimes you meet with rejection. For example, one of the biggest challenges I had encountered was making the sales pitch. I sold to both organizations and consumers; I did copywriting, advertisements, and content marketing (read: blogging). For the first time, I felt like a marketer. I say that with no regrets, and with a slight satisfaction that I have been more ‘marketer’ than I had ever been in my limited years as a business student – even if the word ‘marketer’ reminds you of those people who sell insurance policies.
(Maybe I should call myself a ‘Persuasion Mistress’, or a euphemism of some sort.)
I admire Peck, Caleb, and other entrepreneurs for their dedication to their work despite all these odds. Like most young start-up founders, they live in the chasm between their realities and their vision. That’s the entrepreneur’s fighting spirit. That’s the kind of dog I want to be.
By now, you would have gathered that I am a business student. If there is one thing I am good at, it is talking in class. Not very practical, given that the classroom and the outside world are vastly different environments. And for the past semesters I have been been wondering: Can business students (read: myself) do anything besides talking?
Yes, and more. This internship was a journey that created who I am today. I started out as a greenhorn. Thanks to the graceful bosses who took me in, I started to rediscover much of my artistry which I have long-forgotten. Suddenly, the past experiences in acting, drawing, and design principles became relevant to me as a marketer. And I am not alone in my experience. Ever since my internship, I have met various people who have found a sweet spot where their interests, values, and work intersect. I hope you find it too.
At the end of my journey, my bosses (now friends) gave me a drawing tablet as a parting gift. It means a lot to me – recognition, empowerment, growth, contribution to society.
A new chapter begins.
About the author
During the past few months being away from Tembusu, Cassandra was in the iLEAD program – the local arm of NOC (NUS Overseas College). The program allowed her to work in a start-up for a few months, where she experienced entrepreneurial challenges and personal growth.