Summer Hires- Culture

Summer Hires Blog Series – Reflections

For the final summer hires’ blog, SD’s three summer hires look back on their experience this summer.

Conquering Client Relations

At Something Digital, I am a Summer Project Manager. When SD extended the opportunity to me, I accepted because Melanie Lopez would be my mentor. I work directly with her to manage projects, which involves scheduling and running meetings, interacting with clients, and creating documents. I even managed projects independently for an internal tool and a new page for the SD website. Everything I did contributed to my learning, but I grew the most in the daunting space of client interaction.

My main goal this summer was to better my client relations skills and build confidence and comfort in interaction. I began by easing my way into it – saying hello on client calls and sending emails. However, the most impactful experience was when I led a client call unexpectedly. I memorized the agenda and read and re-read the talking points Melanie provided me. I knew the clients from earlier meetings and they are reasonable people, but I was intimidated. I dialed in stressed, but thirty minutes flew by and with the support of the SD team, I communicated everything I needed to. I was able to convince the client to push launch date, get sign off on documents, and address their questions. I have led a handful of meetings since then without any fear.

The success of that first interaction pushed me to overcome my hesitations. I accepted the chance to attend an offsite meeting at a client’s office. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the SD team put me at ease and explained how face-to-face time is extremely valuable. I built comfort in written communication with clients as well. A client can spend 30 seconds scanning an email I took 30 minutes to write, but that decreased with practice and developing concise communication became natural. I owe much of this to Melanie’s guidance, which pushed me to get better.

The internal SD work also helped me grow. When I collaborated with other departments and debriefed with them after, I treated the opportunity as if I were presenting to clients. These interactions also helped me acclimate.

To say that I achieved my goal would be an understatement; I feel like I completely obliterated it. I was trusted with responsibility, so I was able to do much more than I expected. Working at SD was a privilege – I now have real-world experience and a mentor I know I can always count on. I will carry the skills and confidence I gained here with me into all my professional interactions moving forward.

Written By: Ekta Rana

Developing as a Summer Hire

Hey! I am the back-end Summer Hire, and I’ll use this entry to highlight some of my work.

First, I worked on enhancing an internal application called HealthCheck that runs tests on our clients’ systems. It was initially developed by our Tech Lead and my mentor, Max Chadwick, to monitor databases. I write security checks that send different alerts to our teams when an issue is discovered. HealthCheck is an important tool because it helps us keep our clients’ sites free from cyber threats.

My tools include various software and platforms, like PHP, XAMPP, and Magento. Each presented a steep learning curve for me, since I had no prior experience and little knowledge of their functionality. To start, I conducted lots of research on which applications would work best and how to integrate them. Once I set up a local environment, I began refactoring the code. This was a challenge because it was my first experience with PHP. I learned the syntax, functions, and concepts to have every file and class communicate. As my code became executable, I integrated with Magento to read server databases. Due to lack of documentation, it was hard to understand errors I came across. But with direction from Max, I was able to understand Magento’s behavior and fix the problem.

In addition to working on HealthCheck, I contributed to the quality assurance process for some project deliverables. I learned QA practices and tested several client sites to ensure they function correctly on various devices and browsers. After passing a list of test cases, the site can go live. Taking on QA was a big step for me because I actually executed on client-facing work.

The summer was filled with challenges I enjoyed overcoming. Through the process of working through difficult tasks, I started to see significant improvement in my development skills, particularly with how I structure and integrate code. As a Summer Hire at SD, I’ve truly grown and contributed my knowledge to the company. By working on my particular assignments, I gained an understanding of who a back-end developer is, which is awareness I expect to carry into my future career.

Written By: Toni Giacchi

Gitting My Act Together

At Something Digital, my job is to expand an internal tool designed to keep my coworkers organized, alleviate tedious tasks, and improve the overall workflow. The tool was created by Something Digital’s Front End Lead, Nadav Speigelman, who has also been a fantastic mentor, helping me along every step of the way. The project is a JavaScript app built using the React framework coupled with the memory-managing JS library, Redux. It uses Google’s platform Firebase for database storage and user authentication and connects to ConnectWise’s API to read and write information to project workplans. Though there was a lot of development work to learn, my largest takeaway from working at Something Digital would be my improvement in organization and decision making.

When it comes to new organizational skills, most college students think about having to fix their life around their new work schedule but working at SD taught me how to track time better. Every task we perform, big or small, gets logged. As a multitasker, it sounded daunting at first, but I quickly came to realize the benefits of time tracking. Explaining each task in writing, helps solidify my personal understanding of the task and creates clear checkpoints for next steps. Furthermore, seeing exactly how long tasks require gives me perspective on my on my own abilities. As time logs gradually became shorter as I repeat similar tasks, I appreciated having a visual display of my growth as a developer.

Similarly, I improved my decision-making skills. During the development of the internal tool, I attempted to incorporate an external library, but ran into issues when integrating with my existing code. With Nadav away on business, I had to address the issue on my own. After an hour of attempting with a preexisting solution, I determined it would be more efficient to build my own. My solution took an hour to write and another to implement, significantly less time than originally expected.

Working at SD taught me more than the technical skills required to be a developer. I learned to better track my time, increasing my productivity in each task. I gained intuition in decision-making, enabling me to identify workflow issues and handle accordingly. These are skills a developer can only gain from being a part of an organized team in a professional setting.

Written By: Jayson DeMarchi

Summer Hires- Culture

Culture and Community – Summer Hires Blog Series

Something Digital sits in a prime location in Midtown Manhattan, overlooking Bryant Park and walking distance from the best lunch spots, but that is not what makes our office great. The partners and the people here work to build a culture. From the practices we implement to our monthly celebrations, SD is a place where the culture is inclusive, and that makes it easy to come to work in the morning.

We are an interactive agency where every individual has an impact, which is why team members are pulled into engagements from the very beginning. Designers, developers and managers work collaboratively and in constant communication to ensure that projects succeed. Interdisciplinary teams help broaden knowledge, which enables greater efficiency and higher quality.

The office space lends itself to open communication – you can see everyone and easily ask for or offer help. It isn’t a cube farm or divided into distant and separate offices. Instead, desks blend together, creating an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence in shared space. The bright décor reflects our vibrant brand colors. To encourage communication and collaboration, each desk has a cabinet that doubles as a bench, and when you just can’t sit anymore, there are standing desks. The kitchen table becomes a spot for work sessions, impromptu luncheons, Friday wine and cheese gatherings, and monthly celebrations for birthdays and work anniversaries. The office is inviting and comfortable, which helps foster a closely-knit group.

New team members are welcomed by everyone in the office and—more importantly—with food (Summer hires started with a welcome breakfast and were taken to lunch!). At SD, the welcome made it easier to acclimate and put names to all the new faces. The training process and access to help made for a smooth adjustment and mitigated the rookie mentality. There are also educational opportunities for the full-time staff. They can take classes, earn certifications, and attend conferences to continue their learning and improve skills. Lunch and Learns provide opportunities for them to share new knowledge with colleagues.

Creating a positive office culture doesn’t just mean nap pods and in-house coffee shops. It takes careful consideration to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable in the space and around each other. SD gives its employees room to learn, develop, and share skills. We collaborate at every step to consider all sides of a problem and deliver the best solution. Hiring new members of the team is done carefully and reflects the consideration of our core values. Even the office furniture facilitates SD’s views toward open communication and multidisciplinary collaboration. SD’s attitude and policies ensure that our values remain at the core of everything we do and that our community builds an inclusive culture.

Summer Hires- Culture

Summer Hires Blog Series – Introduction

We are Summer Hires, not Interns

Coffee runs, sandbox projects, cubicles and terrifying bosses. The universal intern experience – but we are not interns. At Something Digital, we are Summer Hires and for the next two months we are full-time employees contributing valuable work. We work the same schedule, participate in staff meetings, and are encouraged to speak up by the surprisingly approachable company founders/partners. Plus, everyone makes their own coffee.

Sometimes it can feel like we are diving into unfamiliar waters, but SD has done its best to help us acclimate. We will be discussing our take on SD and the summer experience in a series of posts to follow. The first of these posts is the SD welcome and office “tour.”

Meet the Summer Hires:

Jayson DeMarchi
Hello! I am one of the Summer Programmers at SD working to create an internal tool that generates budgets and workplans. I am approaching my final semester at Stony Brook University, graduating with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Japanese Studies.

Toni Giacchi
Hey! I am a Summer Programmer at SD, contributing my coding skills to refining and enhancing internal tools our developers use for systems security and health monitoring. I am coming up on my fourth and final year at George Washington University, where I major in Computer Science with a concentration in Computer Security and Software Engineering. Outside of coding, I enjoy spending my time playing soccer or watching the NYC skyline from my NJ hometown.

Ekta Rana
Hi! I am the Summer Project Manager at SD working to help plan projects, allocate resources and provide my research skills. I’m a rising third-year Junior at Stony Brook University studying Technological Systems Management and Business, specializing in Computer Science and International Business. I am on the hunt for the best chicken parm hero in Queens.

Stay tuned for the summer hire series all summer long!