Summer Internship Series: Start-ups in San Francisco

Hey everyone! So although the Harper Center has been relatively quiet the past few weeks, the students at Booth have been exposed to all sorts of interesting projects and given a great deal of responsibility as part of their summer internships. Here at The Booth Experience, we’ll be highlighting our students’ internship experiences, which span a multitude of industries, job functions, and geographic locations. Our inaugural post is from Sibo Zhao, who is a product manager at Zynga in San Francisco this summer.

– Dana
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Greetings from the beautiful city of San Francisco!

Three weeks into my summer internship as a product manager at Zynga, I can already say that I’ve had a fulfilling and fun packed experience. I chose to come to Zynga for many reasons. First, I love games. Being at Zynga means that I can legitimately claim “I’m working” when games occupy all the real estate on my screen. Second, like many of the tech companies in the Bay Area, the perks are pretty amazing. Free swag, free meals, free massages, free gym membership… the list goes on. But more importantly, I came to Zynga for its rigorous data-driven culture, its entrepreneurial mindset, and its fast-paced, challenging work environment where each individual can make a difference. In fact, there are many similarities between my first year at Booth and my summer at Zynga: I keep my head above the water by ruthless prioritizing, I back my findings with disciplined data analysis, and I’m always surrounded by incredibly smart people who are ready to learn and share their learnings.

One of the unique aspects of Zynga is that interns are treated equally as full time employees. There is no concept of intern projects – we were expected to jump into a full time role from day one. For me, this has included investigating player behavior by engaging in a world of simulated economy, designing and launching cool new features, and driving revenue for my game studio. These responsibilities give us great visibility among management of all levels, but are also balanced by rigorous training session and multiple mentorship programs. One of the Zynga values is to be CEO and own your results. This means everyone at the company has an entrepreneurial mindset. In particular, I love owning a feature from scratch and working with teams of artists, designers, and developers to delight players.

And of course, we have a ton of fun at and outside of work. Our office can resemble an arcade sometimes – we take breaks to shoot basketball, play mini-golf, and challenge each other to Guitar Hero. Last weekend, the graduate interns all went on a wine tasting trip in Napa. It was a great opportunity to hang out with the interns from various offices, learn about their experiences at Zynga, and gain a greater perspective of the company. Living in San Francisco also has its own perks. San Francisco holds an abundance of diverse culinary treasures. One of my favorite activities is discovering new restaurants with great friends and catching up on each other’s stories, while learning a new thing or two about the cultures around the world.

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