Vineet Vashist, Product Manager Intern, AppDynamics
Vineet Vashist (MIMS ’21) spent the summer of 2020 as a product manager intern at AppDynamics, an application performance monitoring solution that provides real-time visibility and insight into IT environments.
Describe a typical day at your internship.
Every day was unique in its own way and presented me with new opportunities to learn and grow. Typically my day started with actively partnering with user researchers to drive user discovery sessions, followed by a brief sync-up to discuss key takeaways and iterate over the script before the next session. Following those, I would either have my head buried under infinite browser tabs doing market research or would be taking part in various brainstorming sessions alongside various cross-functional stakeholders (Corporate Strategy, Product Marketing, and Sales Enablement, etc.). I also had regular check-ins with my manager and mentor to keep track of my progress throughout the summer.
Apart from ‘work’ work, a ton of remote happy hours and fun intern events kept me engaged and helped me build strong connections with people across the organization.
What was the most valuable thing you learned at your internship?
A single most important skill I learned was ‘storytelling’ — building a strong narrative that is backed with meaningful data is hard to refute. A key part of storytelling is to know who your 'target audience' is. By understanding their motivations, you can help highlight how your vision is aligned with theirs as well as with the long-term goals of the organization.
What was the biggest challenge?
One of the biggest challenges I faced early on was navigating through the organization and connecting with people across different business units. Picking up on social and cultural cues in a remote environment felt hard at first, but everyone was extremely welcoming and actively lent their ears for me to bounce off ideas and answer queries whenever needed. Help was literally one ping away.
Sage advice: “We sometimes create obstacles that do not exist - all you need to do is take that first step, everything else falls in place.”
How did your work at the I School prepare you for this role?
Every course I took, every single conversation I had in South hall was a vital stepping stone towards me landing my internship. Working alongside such a diverse cohort opened my horizon to seek new perspectives and when combined with the applied nature of courses, the I School holistically prepared me to face and overcome various ambiguous situations I encountered over the summer.
Particularly, the methods and approaches taught in UX Research, Lean/Agile PM, and Lean LaunchPad, not only helped me to have more meaningful conversations with people across different functional units but they also equipped me to employ the right research practices that truly captured the customer’s pain points and market needs.
Any advice for first-year MIMS students as they prepare for their internships?
Product Management is a very ambiguous role — every organization has a different meaning attached to it. Find out which definition you are really interested in. Is there a particular domain that excites you or a problem you are passionate about? Use that as an anchor to identify the skills you need to acquire to achieve that.
Please don’t be hard on yourself, be patient, and keep working towards your goal. You got this!
Did your internship influence your career plans after graduation?
This internship was my 'trial by fire' to assess if building products is something that excites me. Working through various projects over the summer, helped me rule out a few domains I’d prefer not to be a part of as well as affirm others that I am passionate about.
I feel confident to pursue my career in Product Management and will be staying the course post-graduation as well.