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Intern Reflection: A Summer of Growth at Clari

AUTHOR: Katie Braden | September 20, 2021

This past year, Madrona and the Singh Family Foundation initiated and ran an intern program focused on under-represented groups in the technology industry.  A cross-functional team at Madrona worked with outside groups including Summer Search, Rainier Scholars, the Foster School, and local colleges including Bellevue College to understand their students’ needs and help match them to exciting opportunities within the Madrona portfolio. This past  summer, we had our first cohort of students who joined our portfolio companies for paid internships.  In addition to the work at their company, Madrona held sessions focused on understanding venture capital, the path to entrepreneurship, and interviewing tips.

For the next couple of weeks, we will feature reflections by the interns about their experiences this summer. We were so impressed by the students hard work – and are excited to continue to grow this program next summer! 

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at Clari, a bay-area tech startup which builds a revenue operations platform. When I was interviewing for the internship, I was told that Clari had just raised their Series E funding. At the time, this struck me as another fact to learn about Clari, but when I joined the company, I did not realize how significant of an impact it would have on the work I would be doing. The high-growth stage of the company allowed me to learn a lot in a very short period of time and also be excited about the work I was doing. Here’s a deeper look into what my (virtual) summer internship at a high-growth company was like.

#1: Your work has leverage

One unique quality of working at a startup as opposed to a large enterprise is the work you do has leverage. By leverage, I mean it has a big impact on the business. I first conceptualized this idea of leverage during one of the lunch-and-learns that Wilson, a Senior Data Analyst, hosted weekly for all of the Clari interns. Every week, Wilson sent us a short reading and we would discuss the author, concepts, and our thoughts on it during the lunch-and-learns. During one particular lunch-and-learn, we read an essay by Paul Graham on the concept of value and wealth. We ended up expanding on those points in our conversation and talked about how the value one provides at a startup is different from the value they could provide at a larger organization because they have more leverage at a startup.

After this conversation, I was able to recognize the leverage in my work. One of the first projects I worked on was a project to help revamp the onboarding process for the sales organization. When I was originally tasked with the onboarding project, my manager, Brent McNamara, gave me a few instructions on where to start. I researched our current onboarding process and best onboarding practices in the industry to start developing a framework to bridge the gap between the two. When I showed my research and framework to my manager, he was impressed with my work and provided me with more autonomy over the project as a result. I had the opportunity to take the project in the direction I wanted and got to work with many employees both in and outside of the sales organization to bring this project together. I don’t know if I would be able to take on a project with this level of leverage if I was working at a more mature organization. 

#2: Everything needs to scale

In a company growing as quickly as Clari, not only do you have to think about what projects to take on to achieve the goals of your department, but you also have to figure out how to scale your projects. One of the reasons I took on the onboarding project was because Clari nearly doubled its employee base this year. As a result, the onboarding process needed to be revamped to be more centralized, repeatable, and efficient. Before I started, each manager in the sales organization had their own method to onboard new sales employees. To scale these efforts, I built a centralized yet customizable onboarding framework to be used by all the roles in the sales organization. Additionally, I got to work on a few projects with Alisha Chander, a Value Engineer. Most of the value engineering projects I was working on revolved around creating scalable resources for go-to-market (GTM) teams to use to highlight the value Clari provides to its customers. I realized that when working at a high growth company, I had to think strategically because my work needed to satisfy current needs of the business and also needed to scale so it can continue to be used as the company grows.This is vital because every function of the business is interdependent and if one function of the business does not scale while the rest of the business does, it can have a major negative impact.

#3: Both internal and external stakeholders are excited 

What I found unique about my internship is not only did I get to see the excitement internally with the employees of the company but also externally from Clari customers and investors. 

In a recent meeting, I remember one of my colleagues said “It makes a major difference to wake up every morning and be excited about the work you are doing”. At this moment, I realized that I was really lucky to be working with colleagues who felt motivated to do their work everyday because we were all contributing to moving a successful accelerating company forward. 

The customers are also excited about Clari and its product. I got to hear this first-hand from my uncle who happens to work for a company that is a customer of Clari’s and he said that he loves using the product. I also saw numerous cases of positive feedback from customers while working on a project to reformat customer success stories.

Finally, I even got to hear positive feedback from Clari’s investors. Every week, Andy, the CEO of Clari, hosted a company-wide town hall where he shared his thoughts on the business and answered any questions from employees. While the information shared in the town halls is confidential, he shared a general trend of positive feedback from Clari’s investors. Additionally, I got to experience excitement from investors first-hand as I got the opportunity to attend events hosted by Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based venture capital firm that invested in Clari. One of the events was a dinner at a local restaurant. When I introduced myself at the dinner and told employees from Madrona that I was interning at Clari for the summer, a lot of them expressed positive thoughts about the company. All of this positive internal and external feedback about the company and its product allowed me to take pride in my work as I recognized the value it was providing to the company’s growth. 

This internship allowed me to realize how the stage of the company you are working for can have a strong impact on the work you do and what it feels like to work at the company. If I would have taken an internship at a more mature organization, I am sure the work and environment would have been very different. At Clari, I had autonomy and creative leadership over my projects, thought strategically about my projects to ensure they were meeting both the current and future needs of the business, and was excited about my work because of the success of the company. While I learned so much from my projects during my summer at Clari, my biggest takeaway from my summer is the way I felt working at Clari; valued, challenged, and excited. 

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