Cloud Wise Academy itself
My internship at Cloud Wise Academy came about because I took their class on a whim after seeing it mentioned in the paper. After spending my first year after graduation struggling valiantly to write a fantasy novel that would take the world by storm, I was thoroughly sick of pinning all my hopes on the traditional-publishing-based skill set I’d acquired at college. In short, I was famished for new skills and didn’t have a clue what I was going to do with myself.
The first three weeks flew by. Let me tell you a secret: You don’t have to be a genius for basic web design. You do not have to be a savant who wins math competitions and hacks the Pentagon in their spare time. You do not have to be someone who would describe themselves as “a computer person.” As a matter of fact, you don’t have to be any specific type of person at all to construct simple, useable, useful web pages. As the class went on, my confidence grew, yet I still didn’t have any plans for my newfound skills. I thought vaguely that perhaps I would build an attractive author page for myself and use it to advertise my stockpile of college short stories.
Last Saturday, Joe Mckenna, the CEO and founder of Cloud Wise Academy, sent me an e-mail asking if I could come in on Monday and interview for the internship portion of the school. Apparently he’d been watching me during the class and concluded I would be a good fit for the program. Naturally, I was overjoyed. I was taking web classes so I could get an interesting job; I hadn’t expected the process would be so direct.
The Interview itself was painless enough–Joe asked me why I hadn’t worked a real job in my life. I told him my plan until then was to write the great American novel, so employment seemed unnecessary. Strangely, he seemed satisfied with that, and, after I interviewed with his partner via a garbled cell phone connection, they told me to report to work the next day. Better and better!
The night before
I should let you in on another secret: I am a bit of a nervous guy. The night before my first day I lay in bed sweating like I had the flu, imagining a plethora of nightmare scenarios. Again, images of stereotypical bespectacled geniuses swam before me–had I mistakenly given them the impression that was who I was? What miracles would I be expected to perform? Driving out to the office the next morning, I tried to calm myself with deep breaths. I somehow wound up gasping for air like a fish instead.
At 10 AM I took a seat in Joe’s office and connected to his business partner, across the country. She told me I would be doing two tasks, at least one of which would be complicated, and so I needed to take notes.
She shared her screen with me and had me watch as she navigated deep into the underworks of WordPress and Yoast (a popular search engine optimization tool). She explained that my responsibility would be simple–I would be accessing client website pages and blog posts and making minor tweaks to the wording in order to bring them into Google’s good graces. As she did, she tested me–asking occasional questions about how I would change sentence structures to achieve one goal or another, how I would tweak meta descriptions etc.
Later on she sent me off to find sources that would help another writer produce a high-ranking article. Joe told me at the interview that I would likely be trying on many different hats to see how they fit, and it was true. Eventually they told me I’d done all I could for the day and that I should arrive the next morning at the same time. I drove home feeling utterly relaxed.
So let me share my final secret for the day: They expected me to work hard and be attentive, but no one demanded anything that was beyond my abilities. For many college graduates, the specter of the perfect employee who arrives on the first day already knowing everything looms large. It prevents us from putting ourselves out into the world. My internship at Cloud Wise Academy helped me figure that out.
Sean Kittrick is a recent graduate of the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara, where he studied literature. In his spare time he enjoys creative writing, hiking, and playing piano.