James Massaquoi, a co-founder of 360VR Technology and finalist at Hen Hatch 2019, served as a Global Business Operations intern for Google this past summer. James, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2020, was hesitant to leave Delaware and his fellow co-founder, Sury Gupta, alone to work through the Summer Founders program, but enjoyed a relaxing summer filled with insights that has the young entrepreneur eager to continue striving to create unique value.
“I never had a second thought about whether or not I wanted to do it, but I was worried about 360VR Technology,” said James. “I was worried about leaving for 10 weeks without me impacting anything. It just felt like I was leaving my best friend alone with a company we built together and I was just going to be an advisor for the summer. Of course, the opportunity is understood, but I will always feel like a traitor.”
Though it was difficult for James to leave Newark to accept his role with Google, the young entrepreneur found the culture in Boulder, Colorado to match up with his own personality and ambitions.
“The culture in Boulder is just incredible,” noted James. “People have a much freer way of living, it's more about your actions and comfort. People are into themselves and doing what makes them themselves, which is so refreshing coming from the intensity of the east coast.”
While in Boulder, James served as a Global Customer Support Associate aiding agency customers spending $150,000 to $1 million on Google ads. James would communicate with customers, mostly over email but occasionally over the phone, and address issues and answer questions.
Outside of what was considered his core work, or where he was spending 60% of his time, James also had project work where he worked on new ideas in UX design, among others. Interns were encouraged to strike out on their own and find innovative solutions to existing problems.
“It really felt like I was starting my own venture within an existing company,” explained James. “Being at Google and being a part of this mythical elite, you get to fully understand and appreciate how nearly everyone on the planet uses it every couple minutes of their lives and how it impacts some of the most intimate parts of our daily lives.”
James pictured on the Google campus
It’s about the people as much as the place
Though James admits part of his reason for taking the internship role with Google was because of its name recognition and prestige, he was still able to make truly deep and meaningful connections.
“I think a lot of my personal value comes from being able to connect with those around me. Google brought together a diverse group, too. It wasn’t just Ivy League and small liberal arts schools kids: it was a good mix of some really talented and passionate people from state schools and everywhere in between.”
James found that the general vibe and feel of the Google campus was similar to the Venture Development Center (VDC), the home of Horn Entrepreneurship on 132 E. Delaware Ave.
“I couldn’t escape the feeling that Google just felt like a VDC on a much larger scale,” said a laughing James. “The VDC is able to attract tons of intelligent people from across campus that would have probably never met. Google is the same way: they bring these kids together and what they all have in common is hard work, talent and passion for the work they are doing.”
The similarities between the students in the program was tangibly felt, according to James.
“Everyone really wanted to be there, which can be rare in an internship,” shared James. “Everyone was really happy to be at work every day, I never heard someone say I’d rather be home right now, or I'm tired. Your day is commanded by you, no one is checking in on you, if you need a nap you can go down the hall.”
Improving consistency and communication
James posted some of the best customer service scores among his peer group, but after a tense midpoint evaluation, James learned some crucial lessons.
“This summer really helped me learn that people can tell when you're on autopilot,” said a smiling James. “If things are stable, I can get comfortable really quickly. This summer helped me realize that I need to find the drive to do more after exceeding expectations. It isn’t enough to do an amazing job at the beginning, you have to keep pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to add more value.”
Beyond continuing to strive for exceptional results, James also noted where he could improve on communication, and how it could help him at 360VR Technology.
“I’m definitely a little blunt in my communication,” laughed James. “But my communication skills need improvement and over the summer I was able to focus on email communication. It’s something I will need to continually work on but it helps me get in the right mindset when I talk to customers.”
Recharged to bring it back to campus
The Google experience proved to be invaluable for James and now the young entrepreneur is eager to execute on the lessons he learned to create more progress for 360VR Technology.
“I've been stretching myself for a long time but this felt like the most relaxing summer I've had since junior year of high school,” noted James. “I learned so much from working, but I was also able to just enjoy my time and experience in Boulder. My best friend from high school lives out there and for the first time in so long we had the ability to enjoy each other’s company, which isn’t always possible during a hectic visit. I was able to make so many great friends in such a short time and there was always something enjoyable to share and do together. It was an unforgettable experience.”
The constant interactions with customers and work on side projects, like his work with UX design, has led to an in-depth Google tools knowledge as well as increased skill in communication and interviewing.
“I definitely have a more rounded skill set that I can bring to 360VR now,” said James. “I have some incredible knowledge about Google AdWords and other Google tools and my side projects have helped me become an even better customer interviewer.”
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Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.