PSE INTERNSHIP STORIES with Connor Moreton

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PSE INTERNSHIP STORIES with Connor Moreton

By: Milo Lam

Author: Connor Moreton

Connor Moreton, Gamma Gamma’s Director of Sales, shares his internship experience over this summer and some perspectives on what it’s like to drive success in the startup scene.

 

Hey, Connor! Tell us about yourself, and where you worked at

I came to Miami deadset on majoring in Marketing with the goal of working for a large, worldwide company, but recently I’ve picked up another major in corporate sustainability and an interest in startups. Although I grew up near Mansfield, Ohio (and recently moved to Columbus), I spent most of my time in Cincinnati this summer at the best internship in the world! The Living Room is many things: a co-working community, an event venue, and a qualitative market research space. 

 

The Living Room is a vibrant Cincinnati startup

The Living Room is a vibrant Cincinnati startup

Where, when, and how did everything come together?

I would have never known of The Living Room if it weren’t for Advancing Women in Entrepreneurship (AWE) and the incredible Beth Troy, my professor, and mentor. The Living Room was our first stop on the Design Your Life study away trip to Cincinnati and San Francisco. Beth had met the CEO, Joey, at an entrepreneurship conference and knew that a creative meeting space would be perfect for ideation and group discussion. As soon as we parked, I knew my career path was going to change. It was the home-like vibe, John Mayer on the radio, the smell of food upstairs, and most of all the people. Beth could tell I was SUPER interested before I even knew. She called me over to meet Joey, and without hesitation, began hyping me up. For those of you who know Beth, you’ll understand that Joey didn’t stand a chance and soon set up an interview. 

He asked me about which company value I aligned with best. Grit. That was foreshadowing for the summer ahead. Grit means doing what others won’t do and that was my goal. I wanted to make myself irreplaceable by doing all the minute tasks that normally didn’t get done. It helped that there is always something to do in a startup. Joey ended the interview by explaining to me my options. From there, I started looking forward to my first day.

What is it like to work at a startup? What advice do you have for others who are trying to be involved with the startup scene/trying to secure jobs/internships in startups?

My official role required me to recruit participants for focus groups but my first lesson is to be ready for anything. I showed up to my first day 2 hours early partly because of nerves, partly Cincy traffic, but mostly because the head of the company, Joey, and I never thought to discuss the details of my start-date. I walked through the door, passed the indoor slide, and made it halfway up the stairs before my other boss, Deanna stopped me and asked if I wanted any coffee. She asked ME if I wanted coffee? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I then introduced myself as the new intern to which she responded,

“Oh, well, then I’ll show you the coffee after we move these 22 chairs from across the street.”

I was caught off guard, but also super excited to start. I quickly learned that wearing a tie didn’t mesh well with the position, which leads to my second lesson: throw norms out the window – startups have a different rule book. 

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The expansion of my job description didn’t end there. One thing led to another and I re-engineered our inventory system, streamlined our food ordering, invented a subscriber-client cross-checking Excel macro, and even drew a few chalk murals. Now, I don’t see myself as an artist, but I saw that many of the chalkboards were blank. I knew that I wanted to go above and beyond so I offered to draw aesthetic landscapes that represented Cincinnati. Although it wasn’t necessarily what I intended to do, I enjoyed every second of it. Excel macros are another story. I had been working on my Excel skills by Googling instructional videos and always helping people with their spreadsheets. So when I overheard the team’s issues with leftover food, no way to track subscribers, and a tedious inventory process. Because of the incredible culture at The Living Room, I felt confident in presenting my ideas. I set up a meeting with Joey and pitched my inventions. He talked with the rest of the team and we started implementing my solutions on the spot! Practice and training are always beneficial, but having an actual impact was fantastic.

My third and final lesson for those of you interested in start-ups is to focus on the culture. The smaller the staff, the easier it is to impact the culture. And in my startup experience, I was able to contribute to the incredible energy of The Living Room. Conveniently enough, the team’s quarterly strategy meeting was during my second week on the job. I was invited to attend the offsite meeting, but I didn’t expect to participate in much of the discussion. After my obvious fidgeting, I was asked for my opinion. The feeling of making a contribution to the company strategy was incredible. They valued my insight from Day 1 because they knew that The Living Room is a space for me to thrive. 

Now, I pass that lesson along to everyone I meet so that they can thrive too. 

 

If you could have dinner with anyone tomorrow (dead or alive) who would it be

and why?

I would definitely have dinner with Ellen DeGeneres! She has taken so many risks for the sake of what’s right and they are finally paying off for her. She is so funny that I think dinner would be hilarious!

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