Right before the last week of my internship, I was hanging out with a few classmates and told them that, despite the awesomeness of second-year at Wharton, I actually felt bummed that my Uber internship experience was almost over.
Looking back at the summer, I undoubtedly had high expectations for my internship. I was very excited to work in tech, and to work in an operations role where I brought things to fruition—as opposed to just focusing on strategy and analysis. That said, I could not have anticipated exactly how much I would love work at Uber.
I focused on two initiatives this past summer: The first was running a comprehensive analysis of Uber’s wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) in Philly, and the second was examining the ways that driver-partners invite others to use the Uber platform.
In true ex-consultant fashion, I wanted to highlight the three things I enjoyed most about the work environment at Uber:
Level of ownership and autonomy. Going back to our beloved Human Capital frameworks, I felt that I truly had “task identity” where anything related to WAV and referrals was in my wheelhouse. From day one, the team looked to me to propose various ideas and go out and test them. It was to the point where, early on, a teammate challenged the fact that I set up a “check-in” with him, and told me that testing something would teach us far more than an hour-long discussion.
Collaborative culture. The general focus on “doing” caused people to be incredibly responsive and willing to help. Over the course of the summer, I probably spoke to people in 10 different Uber offices to ensure I wasn’t re-inventing the wheel. The best thing was that I could just walk up to someone’s desk and ask a quick question, or send a quick IM if the person wasn’t in the Philly office. At the end of the day, people cared about what was best for the cities (vs. promoting themselves), which fostered this notion of collaboration.
Getting my hands “dirty”. While I had plenty of opportunities to run queries and build Excel models, I truly enjoyed “doing” in addition to thinking. I had the opportunity to help our driver-partners in-person with their day-to-day problems for 10 hours a week, and the tangible impact of getting more driver-partners on the road felt fantastic. Even my specific projects involved a good amount of “doing”, whether sourcing driver-partners excited about WAVs, or decking out our PSC with swag and posters to encourage them to invite other driver-partners.
Beyond the work, I felt that working at Uber satisfied my mission to tackle the most pressing needs that cities face today. Prior to Uber WAV, people with disabilities were stuck with either a shared municipal ride, or having no other options. Given this, it was fulfilling to push forward a more viable option for this demographic.
In addition, the driver-partners who use the Uber platform come from incredibly challenging circumstances, be it being a Sudanese refugee or a single mother in North Philadelphia, and this additional source of income truly transforms their lives.
Looking back, Uber was a great place to intern precisely because it exceeded my high expectations both in terms of work environment and organizational mission. And the Uber credits obviously didn’t hurt either.