Chintan Vyas, Product Manager, Sumo Logic
Chintan Vyas (MIMS ’20) spent the summer of 2019 as a product management intern at Sumo Logic, a cloud-based machine data analytics company.
Describe a typical day at your internship.
Each day presented me with a unique set of challenges to tackle and opportunities to grow. Some days I would just be in a cave thinking about how to improve our product, whereas other days, I would be in meetings from 8 am to 5 pm collaborating with engineering, sales, marketing, and UX teams across different time zones. At the end of the day, the most crucial part of my job was to make sure that we were building a product that brings value to our customers and dealing with any obstacles that prevent us from meeting that objective.
What did you like best about your internship?
The best part of my internship was that I was given the responsibility of leading a major product initiative — bringing the power of Sumo Logic to mobile for its 2000+ enterprise customers worldwide. The most satisfying part of my product management job was conducting UX research. I also enjoyed doing data analysis as it helped me guide our product strategy. Apart from that, I learned that it’s important to combine quantitative and qualitative research to deeply understand a problem.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was to prioritize the product backlog keeping in mind time and resource constraints. When you work at a fast-growing Silicon Valley unicorn company, priorities are constantly changing and as a PM you need to do anything and everything you can to make sure that the product is successful. You define what the boundaries of your role are, which is something that I personally found very motivating. Additionally, considering the fact that Sumo Logic is a cloud-native product focused on the DevSecOps market, it helps to have a strong engineering background to quickly grasp the relevant technical concepts as I often found myself assessing technical risks that could affect our product roadmap.
How did this work relate to your I School experience?
The diversity of students that I’ve met at the I School and the breadth of subjects that I took allows me to have a broad perspective while analyzing a problem. Talking with students pursuing different career options helped me understand different roles and work styles within an organization which is very important for a product manager. I found myself being able to easily bounce ideas back and forth with folks working on different teams. I never run out of things to talk about and this helped me make genuine connections not just at the workplace but even outside of it.
Any advice for first-year MIMS students as they prepare for their internships?
Be patient and persistent in your efforts… it turns out that job hunt is very similar to dating! There were companies where I was an instant match and got an offer within a day, and there were others that took more than three months to get back to me. Getting accepted or rejected by a company is by no means the only measure of your talent and often it’s helpful to follow up with your interviewers for feedback after the interview. Interviews are also a medium for you to figure out whether a particular team or the company is the right fit for you in terms of work culture and your career goals. We have an amazing team of career advisors at the I School who genuinely care about students so don’t hesitate to schedule appointments with them in this regard. Apart from that, I try not to compromise my role for more money or a particular company, and would advise others to do the same. Go back to your admissions essay and read about why you wanted to pursue graduate studies. If you thought about changing your career or trying out something new, go for it! Now is the time.
I would also encourage the incoming students to venture out of the I School building and check out the interesting work being done in other departments and student clubs (I was mesmerized by the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Berkeley). It’s important to get that “Berkeley experience,” make valuable connections and learn from the experiences of other people. It’s also the time to figure out what you bring to the table and what makes you unique!
Did your internship influence your career plans after graduation?
My plan is still to move into a full-time product management role following my graduate studies. Although I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish during my internship (the product was demoed at Sumo Logic’s annual user conference “Illuminate”), I learned that I still have a lot to learn. I feel confident that a product manager role fits me perfectly as it allows me to put into action the wide range of skills that I’ve acquired over the past several years to make the maximum impact.