Cube went through YC, and clearly gained a great deal from the process. As a result, the founders have tried to replicate many aspects of the YC program that they felt worked particularly well in their internship program. YC was the inspiration behind the bunks-in-the-office idea, and it also led to the Intern Demo Day.
Intern Demo Day consisted of each giving a five minute pitch on their value to the company, which from an engineer’s standpoint, meant giving a demo of what they’d been working on. The demo day served multiple purposes, from giving people in different departments of the company an idea of what everyone is working on, to giving the full time employees a way to ensure everyone was contributing.
That last part was particularly tricky for me, because the day we were informed about Demo Day (three days before the actual demo day), I had been providing actual, tangible contributions to the company for… less than a day. Sure, I had been working hard, but I didn’t have anything to show for it.
“Hi, I’m David, and I’m a valuable member of the Cube team because in the last month, I’ve managed to accomplish tasks that your mobile engineer could have taken care of in under an hour!” Honestly, in one month of being at Cube, the total of my tangible contributions had been a list of about 40 leads (apparently the sales team has called only one of them), and saving Anderthan about a half hour. Of course, if I took into account the time he had had to spend training me and assigning me tasks, I was in the negatives.
So, yeah, it was a hard pitch. But in the end, its all about the spin. A pitch is an entirely controlled environment. I got to control what facts I released, and how I presented those facts. While I had touted my meager Comp Sci experience when trying to switch to mobile team in the first place, when pitching my value, I had come from practically no technical background (in the interest of honesty, I listed out my classes, but used it to my advantage) to be able to make actual contributions to the app. Imagine what I could do in the future! I have potential. And while those changes were minor, design oriented ones, I invented a role for myself where I acted as a design specialist for the engineering team, ensuring that the app was a pixel perfect match for the mock ups, while allowing the more talented engineers to crunch out features.
Its amazing how radically differing contexts can change the message presented by similar sets of facts. And I like to think I’m rather good at this skill. In fact, I did it again in this blog post. The previous paragraph was essentially the opposite of my pitch. I belittled the contributions I had made, and changed my tone regarding my Comp Sci background. Why? To pitch my pitch! I made my pitch seem harder to give, and more impressive to pull off. Spinception.