Now that summer has unofficially started (officially it won’t be for another few weeks), I thought it would be fun if everyone shared their first summer job and what they learned from it.
My first summer job was as an intern at Periphonics, an interactive voice response company that was acquired by Nortel Networks shortly after I left. It was the summer of 1999 and I had just come home from a year at Carnegie Mellon, surviving the second “weeding out” semester, and thought I could put my awesome collection of computer science skills to work. If memory serves me, I was developing a web interface for a playback tool they were developing.
The basic idea was that Periphonics had, in addition to the automated menu systems (IVR), call center tools that recorded incoming calls. If you call up a company and they say “this call may be monitored,” well that’s what Periphonics did. They recorded it and played it back along with a video screen capture of the CSR who took the call. Supervisors could review the entire call and see what the representative was doing at the time.
Today, I’m sure the tools are all streamlined but back then we were syncing up the audio and video on a single webpage and it was cutting edge. I enjoyed it. I can’t remember the specifics of the technology but I do remember thinking that it was fun trying to solve this problem of syncing things up, using various plugins that weren’t meant for each each other.
I learned that corporate life had a lot of red tape, lots of forms, and lots of approvals. I learned that a boss isn’t necessarily smarter than his or her subordinates, just better at other skills; no one has the right answer and life is about figuring stuff out on your own.
What was your first summer job?