By the end of today I will conclude my first week at Silverline CRM in New York, NY as a Consulting Intern. Silverline is a boutique Salesforce.com consulting firm that specializes in delivering custom business solutions by leveraging cloud computing systems. Silverline’s service offerings include end-to-end deployment of Salesforce.com’s SalesCloud and ServiceCloud applications, Force.com development services, integration with on premise and off premise applications and databases, data enrichment and migration services, and end user and administrator training. I interned for Silverline last summer as a Sales/Marketing/Management Intern. I began my first day by meeting all of the new members of the team. Last year the company had approximately ten employees in the New York City office. When I returned this summer the office has doubled in size and space. The company has operated for almost three years, and I am the first intern to return for two consecutive summers. I was also the company’s first intern.
Like many companies in information technology and related industries, culture and diversity are vital Silverline’s operation. All employees are free to wear what they choose to the office and contribute their own uniqueness to the firm. For example, our Development Manager occasionally wears shorts to the office, one of the Partners wears jeans, and our Solutions Architect commutes each day to work by long-board while our Support Manager commutes by in-line skates. Furthermore, our Vice President of Sales—a major fan of the Green Bay Packers—insists on playing with toys as well as occasional breaks to bounce around on a medicine ball. In the developer space of the office there a ping-pong table for recreation. The company operates a kitchen with snacks and fresh food for all employees to consume. Last year I was astounded to learn rather quickly that swearing and expressive language is tolerated in the office. Finally, (as if all the preceding details are not peculiar enough) all employees have unconditional control of their work days and work hours and may choose to come and go as they please as well as choose to work from home.
While many people believe that excessive freedom and amusement are divergent from professionalism in a work environment, combining such things has been successful at Silverline. It all seems to work out because the company is performance-driven and rewards accomplishments. In fact, this year the company has a sales pipeline of $8 million USD halfway through the fiscal year for over 4,000 billable hours of services and product licenses. The company has a long list of clients including William Blair, FXAll, Frank Crystal, Google, and potentially the National Hockey League. I was surprised when preparing for my internship earlier this year when I discovered that Hampden-Sydney has about 3-5 percent of our entire alumni network working in information technology and related industries. I strongly believe that a liberal arts background is compatible with work environments similar to Silverline.
In fact although my internship at Silverline is partially technical, I have found that many of the skills I have learned at Hampden-Sydney correlate directly with skills which I need to be successful in a technical business environment. As a future consultant for Silverline I will be required to become familiar with business processes, process flow analysis, requirements definitions, preparing configuration workbooks, data models, detailed functional design, and project plans. I will be responsible for working effectively individually as well as with the rest of the team and clients toward customer satisfaction and implementation of success deployments of our systems. At Hampden-Sydney I learned project management through group work in my Corporate Finance course, data analysis in Managerial Accounting, issues regarding cyber security in Issues in American National Security, and strong verbal skills in Public Speaking. I have also developed sound critical thinking skills through my rhetoric and logic courses which gives me a comparative advantage when analyzing documents and data for errors. My Hampden-Sydney education empowers me to listen to clients’ needs, dismantle such needs in a logical manner, and function as a bridge between sales and delivery teams to implement the company’s solutions to such needs. The values of the Honor Code are also important to the nature of the firm. Clients tend to have a lot of sensitive information in their customer relationship management organizations so companies like Silverline are sensitive about how we handle each client’s data. The company requires employees that keep sensitive data confidential and the Honor Code of Hampden-Sydney means a lot to my supervisors as it illustrates strong ethics which transfers to business ethics.
I am excited for the rest of the summer and the opportunities that will grow as I develop a robust sense of what my professional life will resemble after Hampden-Sydney. At the end of my first week at Silverline, I met with Matt Guill, a Hampden-Sydney alumnus of the Class of ’06 currently studying at Columbia Business School. We discussed the evolving environment of the business world and the significance of integrating liberal arts with practical, technical, and managerial proficiencies which are in demand. I sincerely hope that other students consider careers in information technology and consulting firms like Silverline. My blog will foster any curiosity other Hampden-Sydney students have in these industries. Namely, I hope to illustrate that careers in information technology exist outside of the established stereotypes of tech support.