Software Project Management Internship
May – August 2018
In Summer 2018, I completed a 11-week internship (5/22-8/3) with Tapp Network in Wilmington, Delaware as a Software Project Manager. My internship experience has exceeded my initial expectations as the team at Tapp was always very sensitive to ensure that I have a holistic, well-rounded exposure to the real world dynamics. As a result, my experience has helped me gain a better clarity of my passion and mission in life.
Meet the team at Tapp!
About Tapp Network
Tapp Network is a purpose driven digital marketing & technology company specializing in providing nonprofit and mission-driven companies with digital marketing and social media expertise and services they need to deliver compelling content, at the right time, on the right channels, and to the right audience. It is a small company consisting of 8-10 employees and it is located in Wilmington, Delaware.
Aside from Tapp Network, there is Tapp Ventures: the development and capital arm of Tapp Network that invests in and develops software, apps, and technology for innovative companies pushing the edge of what’s possible. We have served clients in the fields of real estate development, sports marketing, life science, pharmaceuticals, transportation, cyber security, and marketing automation.
The office is located at The Mill, a co-working space in downtown Wilmington.
As a project manager intern, I reported directly to the Chief Technology Officer, who leads and manages Tapp Ventures. My primary responsibility was to assist him in managing, scheduling, and organizing multiple projects simultaneously to ensure smooth and timely completion of project deliverables.
My roles varied from assisting in software quality assurance testing prior to deployment, developing various requirement documents (statement of work, architecture diagram, business proposals, white paper, workflow diagram, service level agreement), to developing and prototyping an e-commerce website on Shopify.
Due to the nature of working in a startup, I had the opportunity to work on a good mix of technical and non-technical projects. For tasks that are non-technical, some of them involved independent research and gathering requirements through client meetings. Technical requirements in particular were subsequently translated into “issues,” “milestones,” and “pull requests” on GitHub. Other softwares/platforms that I’ve used for technical tasks are Shopify, Laravel, and Mailgun.
Examples of Projects
- Software QA Testing for an indie music venues and tour booking site
- Testing closed and previously resolved issues and pull requests on GitHub
- Assigning issues and pull requests are assigned to appropriate milestones
- Ensuring outstanding issues are resolved in due time
At the end of this project, I’ve gained an expertise on GitHub with minimal instructions. Starting off, GitHub was confusing and complicated to navigate through due to the overwhelming technical jargon and lack of understanding of the context, but as I begin to use it consistently, I understand the purpose of GitHub and why it is a game-changer in web development industry.
- E-commerce Website Development for a lifestyle blogger and fashion influencer
- Gathering and documenting requirements from client meetings
- Ideation – brainstorming of website theme, layout, and product placement to deliver the desired impact and convey the right message based on client’s high-level concept
- Iteration & Prototyping – putting together the first MVP on Shopify for client sign-off, and then continuously iterating based on client’s feedback
- Customizing various features that are unsupported by Shopify to fit the needs of the client
This project is my personal favorite as I got to take the lead on it! Unlike other projects where I hopped on midway, I was involved in this project from the ground up, so I had the liberty to channel my creativity by tinkering with various ideas that I have envisioned. This project is still ongoing, and I am elated to be able to continue working on it even after the end of my internship.
- Tapp Ventures’ Business Plan Development to aid company’s rebranding initiative
- Conducting analyses of competitive landscape, current SWOT, company positioning, and industry trends
- Evaluating results of analyses to develop a business plan to formalize Tapp Ventures – including recommendations of re-branding strategies – which will lay the framework to formalize Tapp Ventures and revamp company’s website such that it will communicate the accurate message and impact to the audience
As a student who is interested in entrepreneurship, this project was the perfect exercise for me! It came with barely any instruction given other than to “create a business plan for Tapp Ventures” so I had to do my own research and adopt the “just do it” attitude. This exercise challenged me to go above and beyond in being resourceful and delivering a quality work.
- “Collective Impact System” strategic concept framework
- Assisting CEO in the strategic development of the high-level concept of “Collective Impact System” to show progression of collective impact in the digital age
- Researching current application of the model and recommending creative concepts to brand it to support Tapp’s repositioning as a Social Impact Agency – this framework will be used to pitch the company’s strategy to new/existing clients and other business negotiation purposes
Another unfamiliar and challenging project I could get my feet wet in! I learned a lot about collective impact model during the process, and I was able to present my creative branding concepts to the CEO. There is no excuse to deliver a mediocre work just because I am not familiar of the subject matter at hand.
MIS 3506 – Digital Design & Innovation Studio
The knowledge and skills I’ve gained from this internship ties closely with what I learned in MIS 3506, which is not a surprise since I got this internship position through that class. I wrote a lot of requirement documents, although they are not as extensive and elaborate as what I did in MIS 3506. I also got to attend client meetings at different stages of negotiations and client onboarding.
I’ve gained a better awareness and for some, an in-depth understanding of an extensive array of softwares that are not necessarily within the scope of our course syllabus, such as GitHub, HubSpot, Shopify, Laravel, Mailgun, Google Webmaster Tools. Even just being aware of these tools and their respective applications has broadened my technical knowledge in the context of real-world software and web development projects.
Aside from the technical aspect, this experience has honed my soft skills and given me a solid understanding of how a business is run, managed, and monetized.
Below are some of the best practices that I applied which have enabled me to be the best version of myself on the job:
- Be Independent & Resourceful
Most of the time, the tasks came with very minimum instruction. While it might be confusing at first, I took it as a challenge to figure my way out and doing my own research before asking for help – sometimes, the answers I was looking for are just a click away on Google! It has served me well as the people in my company have always been impressed with the quality of my work.
Not having much technical skill set under my belt, I learned to take initiative to be resourceful. For example, I used GitHub extensively for the most parts since the CTO collaborates with other programmers that he manages on GitHub. Since my internship did not involve programming, I was never expected to master it. However, I took the initiative to learn GitHub on CodeAcademy. As a result, I picked up the context and purpose of the projects faster and was able to communicate with the programmers more effectively.
- Start with a Purpose
Going off of being independent, as a self-starter, I constantly questioned “what is the end goal of this task” whenever I was assigned a new project. I was given plenty adhoc tasks at work, thus each task had a different objective and approach. Starting with a purpose helped me become more efficient in my work as I was better able to be creative and independent in my approach to a challenge at hand, instead of following instructions blindly.
- Attitude > Expertise – having the right attitude:
- Saying “Yes” to challenges
- Being relentlessly enthusiastic
It doesn’t matter how good you are if you don’t have the right attitude. On the other hand, you do NOT have to be an expert to be able to excel at work. I came to work ever ready for a new challenge. I said “Yes” to challenges that I was completely unfamiliar with knowing that I was indeed clueless, but I worked through them with an open and positive mind. When it comes to unfamiliarity, I always know that if I “just do it”, I will figure it out – positive attitude breeds positive action.
The team was always full of energy, and their positive energy was contagious. Similarly, my enthusiasm at the workplace made people want to work around me, and being a great team player is an invaluable asset regardless of any career path that I will pursuit. Not only did I take pride in every single project that I worked on, I was also proactive in consistently asking for a new task, regardless of my expertise or the lack thereof.
- Get Out of the “I’m just an intern” Mindset
There are stereotypes of interns working on menial tasks that do not necessarily add value to their education or their employers. I had that fear coming into my internship, especially working in a startup where the job responsibilities are not as structured as in big companies. But again, having the right attitude made all the difference.
I told myself every day that “I am more than just an intern”. In fact, I was hungry for knowledge and experience! I showed my employers that I am committed to my work and I am a fast learner. I updated my progress without being asked, and I delivered more than what’s required for each project.
As a result, I was able to work on at least 6 different projects for 5 different clients, a feat that would not have been possible if I was not willing to take the extra step to invest my 100% in learning as much as I could and delivering more than what was expected.
- ENJOY THE RIDE!
Working does not have to be boring and burdensome. In my case, I looked forward to each day at my internship because I reveled in what I was doing. Even when I stumbled, I learned to appreciate and enjoy the process. After all, there’s no fun in life when everything is smooth sailing!
An internship is a test ride – it’s an avenue for students to take up challenges, learn from their mistakes, grow their soft skills, and discover their passion. Worst case: you know exactly the career path that you do NOT want to pursue. Best case: you leave the internship with a crystal-clear clarity of your passion. For me, the things I’ve learned, interactions I’ve witnessed, and relationships I’ve cultivated have all affirmed my passion for entrepreneurship, my ambition to leverage technology to make an impact, and of course, my decision to study MIS at Temple!
Through this internship, I’ve learned that I have an affinity for challenges in terms of figuring my way out of an unfamiliar situation with minimal instructions. I also thrive in an independent and flexible environment where I can take pride in my own work and have the freedom to decide how to approach a problem. Lastly, I discovered the beauty of being comfortable with being uncomfortable – you never know what you’re capable of unless if you let go of that fear of uncertainty!
Let go, just do it, and ENJOY THE RIDE!
Temple Team at Tapp Social Summit