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5 in 5! with Textaurant

November 18, 2010

5 Questions. 5 Minutes. 1 Employer.  This week: Josh from Textaurant.

1. Where do you work and what is your job? What do you do an a day-to-day basis?

I am the Founder and Executive Chef at Textaurant, the company that wants you to wait online, not in line. Basically, I run the company, handling everything from sales and marketing to product development to hiring – anything that doesn’t involve actual coding. On a given day, I might be out talking to a dozen restaurant managers, meeting with potential partners, writing a blog post or email newsletter, and interviewing a candidate or two for an open position. If I don’t get it done, nobody else will, so I learned quickly that nothing is “beneath me” as the head of the company.

2. Did you have internships while in college? Do you feel your internship experience ultimately led you to where you’re at today?

I had a couple of internships, actually – one at Mullen Advertising and Public Relations,as a PR Intern,and one with a computer company my dad was working for at the time. They were both valuable, in similar ways: Mullen taught me that I loved marketing but didn’t like PR, and the software gig taught me that I didn’t enjoy coding if it was someone else’s project. I wish I’d kept up with that, though, when I see how much my friends who are developers are making!

An internship is an important part of the college experience; it says, “I’m willing to put in some time to learn this trade.” It’s the closest thing we have to an apprenticeship system here in the U.S.

3. What can an intern do to make a favorable impression? To make a negative impression?

Interns seem to come in two “flavors” – those that think the employer is doing them a huge favor, and those that think that they’re doing the employer a huge favor. Neither of these extremes is desirable, because an attitude of complete subservience is going to result in me having to hold the person’s hand too much, while someone who doesn’t seem all that interested in being there is bound to get on my nerves.

The days of interns having to fetch coffee are basically over – at least, they definitely are in the start-up world. I’m looking for someone who takes initiative, rolls up their sleeves and says, “Here’s what needs doing. Can I start?” An intern who does something outside of their job description before their assigned tasks are done is bad, though; the key is to get your work done first, then look for something that will help the company.

Some keys to good impressions: dress like you belong there (never be the best- or worst-dressed person at the company); be willing to help, whatever it takes, but don’t be a total pushover; do your work before someone else’s; give the best you can give.

We often think of a “bad” intern as someone who does no work, but almost as bad (not as bad, but almost) is the intern who is so eager to please that they do a poor job on an assignment just so they can say, “I’m done! What’s next?” I’d rather have an intern who does exactly what they were asked – no more – than one whose work I have to check every time and clean up.

4. What is the best skill you can teach an intern?

Networking. It seems so simple as a concept, but it’s so important and so many people do it wrong. Networking isn’t about shaking hands, it’s about developing a relationship – often slowly, over time – so that when you need to email someone and say, “Can you do me a favor?” they want to say yes.

5. Give us a positive intern story? An intern horror story?

We had an intern start working with us and within a week he’d landed a restaurant that became a fantastic client. He was patient, learned what we do, and talked to the owner in terms he could understand.

On the other hand, we had someone who made himself available only two days a week during a summer internship. They would make excuses, bail out early, and turn in half-assed efforts, to the point where it became clear that they didn’t want to be there – they just wanted the check and the credit. Few things upset me more than someone who doesn’t have to be there wasting both my time and theirs.

Thanks Josh! Think you have what it takes to join the start-up world? Textaurant is looking for a Social Media Intern – apply now.

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