, , , , ,

Toggling between my history notes and my email inbox, I skimmed a message from an Adobe talent scout.

I was moving forward in the process, whatever that meant.

Later that day, while I was wrapping up Winter Quarter finals, I got a call from another Adobe employee. I got the Adobe.com Usability internship!

Brand familiarity and value alignment made me apply for an internship at Adobe.

Studying journalism at Northwestern, I have spent several nights creating slideshows, audio stories and videos with Adobe software. Plus, Adobe’s core values rock: genuine, exceptional, innovative and involved. Who wouldn’t want to be around people with these qualities?

What's the view from Manuel Rapada's cube? San Jose, California.

Manuel Rapada recently presented his research at the Adobe Intern Project Expo, gathering feedback and suggestions from employees throughout the company.

The night before my internship started, I immersed myself in everything Adobe, including company videos and my job description. All that preparation, however, could not prepare me for the three-tower behemoth that the company calls headquarters.

At Adobe, I work in the Marketing Insights and Operations (MIO) group, the company’s market research arm. My job is to conduct a qualitative usability study of Adobe.com self-help and learning content.

In layman’s terms, I interview users, ask for their likes and dislikes about the website and summarize that feedback into actionable strategy.

Plenty of the skills I have learned at Medill easily transfer into a market research role, such as calling sources (in this case, users), asking questions that lead to genuine responses and writing clear, concise copy.

My manager has given me a crash course into other aspects of market research, including project documentation, survey design and pitching my project to company stakeholders. Our weekly one-on-one meetings provide a chance to catch up personally and professionally.

I am officially known in the company directory as an Adobe.com usability intern, but to several on my floor, I am known as that guy who likes Zumba.

Let me explain.

All the MIO interns presented project progress reports at the July department meeting. In my “about me” slide, I gave shout-outs to Medill, Northwestern and previous employers. I also revealed my on-campus Zumba obsession.

“Who knew people who report also like Zumba? Go figure.”

Instant laughter in three different Adobe offices prevailed. I still get praise weeks later for that five-minute presentation, which also included a clip from an interview with a frustrated customer.

Entering the second half of my internship, I have embraced all the little things that collectively make Adobe a great workplace: whiteboard tables, small conference rooms for some independent time and tower-to-tower bridges.

Working in a company this big, accessibility has also been a pleasant surprise. All the interns met CEO Shantanu Narayen, and marketing interns recently ate lunch with CMO Ann Lewnes.

My research affects several departments, including customer care, product marketing and sales. Managers and leaders throughout the company have made time to speak with me, bringing up webpages or questions they want answered.

Just as many would call an internship a three-month job interview, I’ve been calling my time at Adobe a three-month fit test. Do I want to work here? Do I find my work interesting and meaningful?

At this point, I can safely say yes! This experience has been an eye-opening turn in an already crazy career journey. I may have caught the Silicon Valley bug. And I don’t mind that.

Manuel Rapada is a rising Northwestern junior studying Journalism with a Business Institutions minor and an Integrated Marketing Communications certificate. On campus, he’s the social media/breaking news editor at The Daily Northwestern and a work-study student at the Kellogg School of Management’s Executive Education division.

About Views from the Cube Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.