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intern diaries insydo

Insydo’s Tanaz & Sami say the Best Intern is a Sponge

Welcome to part two of the Intern Diaries series, where we’re asking industry leaders/interesting people to share stories from early in their careers. Here are Tanaz Dizaji, CEO & Founder, and Sami El-Tamawy, CTO & Co-Founder, of insydo, shedding some light on their multidisciplinary internship experiences, and  sharing tips on how to be the golden sponge… er… intern! 

Tell me about your first internship.

Sami: I worked in the tech support team at a technology company in Egypt. I was around 18 years old. I was expecting big learning in software production but I found myself listening to people complaining, everyday, about their laptops not working, computer screens not being bright enough, the mouse not moving, and the classic, “my PC is hanging”.

But I was really excited about getting to work with computers, and wearing a uniform with a name tag. It was the little things. I wanted to prove myself and earn money (even though a third of my pay was cut because I was late to work most of the days – don’t do this kids!).

I learned all the foundational skills – it was less technical and more focused on soft-skills like teamwork, reporting, and decision-making.

What was your most impactful experience?

Tanaz: My first job was as a Sales Assistant at a clothes store, selling Levis and Wrangler jeans. I figured it couldn’t be that hard, right?

Wrong – it was a disaster!

I quickly identified that I did not possess a natural talent for sales – I had no clue how to give purchase advice. I struggled to meet even 10% of my assigned targets in the first month… I was clearly going to be fired!

So, I took matters into my own hands and decided to become the guru of denim. I diligently studied the fabric industry and observed how key members of the team managed to close sales.

There were so many tips and tricks to learn, like never let the customer try on jeans in the changing room without coming out – the point was to give them feedback and get the right pair to fit.

I realized at that point that in every role, whether it’s an internship or full-time job – you have to learn, adapt and practice until you master the trade. There is no set formula to selling… every pair of jeans, every brand, every client is different!

What was your best experience, either at internship or entry level?

Tanaz: When I graduated from university, I was trained by PwC as a Chartered Accountant. This gave me a solid, multidisciplinary foundation in areas like law, taxation, management, consultancy and finance. To this day, I apply some of that knowledge in my role as CEO. A good base across different fields definitely helps you cope better as an entrepreneur.

It’s also important to have the passion to keep learning. Otherwise, the world will keep evolving whilst you don’t.

And there’s a reason for it, for example, at insydo, we only hire talent that is naturally curious and passionate about learning new skills.    

The worst?

Tanaz: I once worked as an intern at a Japanese investment bank. I spent the entire 6 weeks filling in a very dusty basement office.

Safe to say, I learned nothing but resilience there!

What inspired Insydo?

Tanaz: The everyday problem of finding good places to go in the city! Thanks to web, we have information overload and it’s hard to find trusted websites that provide recommendations that have some research and inspiration to back them up.

Why do you think internships are important? Why were they important for you?

Sami: Those experiences make you a part of a larger engine or a special project. You learn from being treated differently (than a student). You become someone who has to deliver something at the end of the day and that accountability changes you.

Another thing is that with internships you get to gain exposure in companies that may not hire you later based on a lack of background or skill. With internships, bigger companies are taking a chance on you so it’s a great way to get your foot in the door.

What’s something you wish students would stop doing?

Tanaz: Contacting us with the standard ‘I’m interested in your company – do you have any vacancies’ email. If you want the internship, it’s critical to research the company properly beforehand and send a personalized message. We have hundreds of applicants a month so you definitely need to make the effort to impress and stand out.

Your one piece of golden advice for interns is…

Tanaz: Sponge. Once you’re in the role, soak it all up.

insydo intern diaries

As an intern, you’re in a perfect position to learn and absorb anything around you. You’re a sponge. Always be a sponge! The internship could lead to a full-time job or give you a lifelong mentor!  

Interns can actually be challenging for companies as they invest time in training candidates who may only be around for a few weeks. So take the initiative, show accountability, and work your butt off! If you make a big effort, they will invest even more time training you!

  • Rewant Verma

    Really awesome piece of advice for interns to climb towards success quicker, time to turn into spongebob workpants I guess B)