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Photo Shoot Shadow Session

We are already in our fourth week of summer internship at Zappos, but it feels like no time at has passed at all! This, I suppose, is a good thing, as no one wants to dread their job so much that it crawls like a paraplegic snail. If these few weeks are any indication, the end is going to jump out of nowhere and surprise us all!

I am the intern on the 6pm side of things, so here is my spiel: 6pm.com is the sister site to Zappos, selling items at deep discounts (this equals lots of shiny new shoes for not a lot of shiny dough). Think of it as an online Marshall’s. Great deals, people!

One of the great attributes of Zappos is the fact that EVERYONE (not generalizing in the least) is open to mentoring me. The best example of this was this past Tuesday. I reached out to the Style Editing Team about a possible day of shadowing so I could see how the department operated. Marie, one of our style editors, proceeded to invite me to a photo shoot soon after. I was on that like orange on a carrot!

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Behind the scenes of a Zappos studio photo shoot with model Julianna.

Most of Marie’s job as a stylist happens prior to the shoot: picking the outfits, coordinating with our photo team, and lots more. It involves lots of planning. The day of the shoot, however, is all about the model and achieving the desired look. Marie and her team are really great at their jobs, and the model Julianna was a total pro. Just being able to watch it all in action set my heart aflutter!

During the shoot, I helped with a few things like hanging up clothes and operating the fan (to achieve the windblown look), but mostly, I talked to anyone and everyone and took in as much as I could.

Working at Zappos sometimes feels like a little slice o’ Heaven. If this is what work is like, I may never want to leave!

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Just a Little Weird...

“To be honest Mom, they’re all just a little bit weird,” that was the only phrase I could muster when my mother asked me how I was getting along with the other interns after my first week here in Vegas. I had just left all of my closest friends in New York City, and here I am on the other side of the country with a group of strangers who would comprise my new social circle.

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“Mom, they’re all from weird places like Canada, Alaska, and like – Michigan. One of them is obsessed with nail polish, one of them was born a conjoined twin, one has deformed fingers and there’s even a girl with a cat.” At first I was bewildered, I thought to myself, how did they pick the 17 weirdest people in the country for me to work and live with? But, then it hit me, that’s the beauty of Zappos, that we get to work in an environment that embraces and encourages weirdness. It’s even one of our core values. A place where it’s completely OKAY to be yourself, where you can wear WHATEVER you want to work, and put up as many Justin Bieber and Edward Cullen posters at your desk that’ll fit. I feel like one of the luckiest people on earth. I’m immensely proud to say that I work with a “stone-cold pack of weirdos,” and that I’m one of them, and that I may even be the weirdest. And yes, that was a quote from Bridesmaids; the interns are obsessed with quoting that movie.

I was super nervous at first to trade in the gritty streets of NYC that I called my home, for the sunny lanes of Las Vegas. Like I said before, in NYC the weirdos are all on the street, here in Vegas, they all work at Zappos. I realize now that it was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. I thought I would constantly miss NYC, but the Zappos family is so welcoming, I feel like I’ve lived here forever. One of the things that initially struck me about living and working here, is how in NYC it’s unheard of to hold the door for the person walking behind you (I’m guilty of this). You only crack the door open a slither, that’s just wide enough for you to slip through. Here at Zappos, we fight to hold the door open for one another, no matter how large the procession, no matter how long you have to stand there. Even better, while you do it, you smile and greet every person that comes through; it’s quirks like this that make Zappos an amazing place.

I have my fair share of internship horror stories. There was that time I was working at that magazine, and I had to walk the Editor-in-Chief’s aggressive toy-SharPei every day through Soho. There was also that time my boss made me pass out fliers in the grueling sun of Midtown. And let’s not forget I even worked for someone on the Lower East Side who didn’t know my name. But, so far here at Zappos, everything is smooth sailing. Horror stories like that don’t exist at Zappos. No matter what this zany and scorching Las Vegas summer has in store for me, I’m glad I’ve got a family of 17 Zapponians (who are all just a-little-weird) to experience it with.

XO

TY

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Z-Interns: Search Intern Reporting In!

Hello, World! I'm Tony, from Michigan (GO BLUE!!!), and I'm pumped to be interning for Zappos this summer.

Zappos Summer Interns

Here's a photo of me with some of the other Z-Interns!

I'll spend my summer at Zappos coding with the search team in the Website Systems Department.  They're a crazy, tight-knit team that really embodies the company's work hard, play hard mentality.  Search work is both challenging and interesting.  The entire team is extremely supportive, making it a great environment to learn and grow as a computer science student, and as a person.  

This team reeks of Zappos culture. (It's a good smell. Everyone showers, I promise!) During the day we take breaks to crank out some push-ups.  At the end of a day of coding, we take time to challenge the other web systems teams to a game or two of Zing Zong: a Zappos mix of ping pong and volleyball.  The search team also tends to hang out together after work pretty often.  Even though this is a job, it's easier to think of my teammates as my big brothers, rather than co-workers.

Here's to a great summer!

Cheers,
Tony Ghita

The One and Only HR Intern

WOW! Zappos’ culture is unparalleled. I’m still trying to take everything in while finding my place in the HR dynamic, yet I feel like I’ve been here forever. It’s a strange sense of belonging you only get after years of dedicated relationship building at a “normal” company.

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On the first day of work, our trainer Kelly knew all of our names and the individuals in the class soon became a close-knit group. As we finished on-boarding and started in our respective departments, it was bittersweet not seeing my new friends all the time. However, it didn’t take long before I was fully immersed in my department and now I cannot imagine myself working anywhere else. Where else do you receive a Shakeweight™ on the first day??

Now I’m sure you are jealous and wondering “What department gives their employees amazing Shakeweights?” Well, I am the first HR intern! During the course of the next 11 weeks I will rotate through each department, starting with the P.E.A.C.E. team. Each day is filled with wish-granting adventures, decorating and event planning.

My overarching project is to pitch two charities for the fall season representing men’s and women’s cancer advocacy and resources. On the surface, the team looks fun and spirited—although this is true, working on this team showed me the hard work and dedication the team puts forth in making the best events possible for Zapponians. The biggest challenge I am currently facing is balancing the projects I am working on and all the fun activities going on in the company. For instance, I am working on developing a visual for the employees of the office to see the progress Zapponians are making in raising money for a charity project. But I’m getting distracted with things like blog posts, decorating desks, throwing Jolly Ranchers at people and sitting in on meetings. Zappos has a crazy way of making life easier and yet more challenging at the same time.

Challenge accepted!

--Michelle V.

The One and Only HR Intern

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Zappos Culture Through the Eyes of an Intern

I'm in a bit of a dilemma as I write this post because we were asked to keep these blog posts brief, but we were also asked to discuss the Zappos culture, and if my two weeks here has taught me anything, it's that those are conflicting requests. Why, you ask? Because the culture is unlike that of any other company I have encountered. In our culture class yesterday–a course taken by new hires here at Zappos, we were asked to write a single word to describe the culture. My first reaction to this request was disappointment, because I knew that of all of the words in the dictionary, any single one would not be able to do the culture justice. I considered inventing a word; something like "AwesomeFunWelcomingJoytastic" may have worked, but in the spirit of the exercise, I set out to find a word that exists in real life.

Imagine a work environment where you feel like you are getting to know the people that you work with, and not just their drone-like at-work counterparts. That's Zappos, which is why the word I chose to describe the culture is "ORGANIC". Not only because the employees are encouraged to bring their personality, quirks and all, to work, but also because the culture itself evolved organically from the bottom-up. Since getting to Zappos, I have been trying to figure out how they managed to scale the start-up feel to a company of more than 5000 employees, but the answer is simple; it all comes from the employees being themselves, not being forced to conform to their environment, but rather allowing, and helping their environment to conform to them.

After onboarding last week, everyone was excited to branch off and see what they would be doing with their respective teams. I'm on the Zeta team for the summer here at Zappos. I'll spare you the details of the multi-page, diagramificated email that my superhero, Patrick sent me, but simply put, my team manages tons of code that keeps the website's gears in motion. Because continuing to write in paragraph form is frustrating me, I'll leave you with a list of totally awesome things I have experienced in my short two weeks here that I don't think I would have experienced at any other company:

1. The other tech interns and I had lunch with the CTO, Arun Rajan yesterday.

2. I have been encouraged, on multiple occasions to stop everything I am doing and play a game of Zing Zong–a super intense game that can only be described as a hybrid of ping pong, volleyball, and soccer (or fútbol, if that's your thing).

3. Every so often, in the middle of working, music begins to play and the search team, Patrick and I do push-ups.

4. As I was writing this post, Tony, the intern on the search team, turned on a laser machine he brought from home causing everyone to leap up in excitement telling him he can never turn it off.

5. We already experienced one of Tony Hsieh's legendary email messages that he talks about in Delivering Happiness.

6. Because I indicated that I like Swedish fish on a personality survey, I had 8 bags of Swedish fish waiting for me at my desk on my first day.

7. Last but not least....this:

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Until next time,

-Luke

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Introducing: The 2012 Zappos Summer Interns

Las Vegas, Nevada.

That’s where we, the first ever class of summer interns at the Zappos Family of Companies, find ourselves from now until the middle of August. And if the first 10 days are any indication, it’s going to be an incredible time.

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Back Row: Yong L., Jessica C., Tony G.., Nick HS, Luke Z., Tylan C., Kim H., Lauren A., Ravi R., Alex H., Melodi E., Neil G.

Front Row: Michelle V. , Adrian T., Allison H., Irene P., Anya E., Taylor S.

I’ll be working with the Web Analytics team here at Zappos, so I figured it would be appropriate to start off with a quick numerical summary of the sweet setup we have.

By the Numbers:

  • 18 = # of summer interns
  • 12 = # of weeks in the internship
  • 10 = # of universities we represent
  • 8 = # of hours in our typical work day
  • 3 = # of buildings that comprise the Zappos campus in Henderson, NV
  • 0 = # of dollars we pay for food, drink, transportation, gym membership, etc.

And perhaps the most telling number of all:

Zappos has been ranked in the top 15 on Fortune’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” for three years straight, reaching as high as #6.

Even before the internship, our awesome campus recruiters Mike and Kiersten sent us welcome packages, filled with flip-flops, energy drinks, t-shirts, snazzy toilet kits, and more, all adorned with the Zappos logo. Then, as all of us filtered in to our gorgeous corporate housing at the Marriott Towne Place Suites less than ten minutes from Zappos headquarters, we were greeted by more goodies, as well as personal messages from our Superheroes. Here at Zappos, the terms “mentor” and “intern” were a bit too plain vanilla, so from day 1, we were known as Sidekicks learning from and working with Superheroes.

On Memorial Day, Mike and Kiersten, organized a great poolside welcome barbecue at our suites, where we all met each other and spent a few hours hanging out. Each of us shares a 2-bedroom suite, including a fully-equipped kitchen, bathroom, and extremely spacious living room, with one other intern. We even have a gracious hotel staff that makes our beds, does our dishes, and tidies our rooms each day. It’s slightly ridiculous in the best way possible.

Early Tuesday morning, 2 shuttles decked out in Zappos decals picked us up for our first day at the office. We spent our first three days in onboarding: a series of training workshops, lectures, and team-building activities led by Kelly, capped off by a famous tour of the Zappos buildings. I can now affirm that the office is just as awesome as it looks in all the YouTube videos.

Last Friday, we took a field trip to downtown Las Vegas, the highlight of which was a full-blown tour of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s breathtaking house! A scavenger hunt and evening free time saw us wander through some of downtown Vegas’s hotspots, including the new Zappos headquarters-to-be in the old City Hall building, the Fremont St. Experience, and First Friday. All in all, our first week was a perfect introduction to our Superheroes and teams, the 10 core values by which the company and its employees live and breathe and the unique company culture at Zappos.

Then, last week, we were thrown into the deep end with our teams. My Superhero for the summer is Christina Kim, the senior web analyst at Zappos. Ronn Shaw, my other primary mentor and the second half of the Zappos web analytics team, changed my official job title today to “Porous Sponge” in an attempt to encourage me to soak up as much as possible throughout my twelve weeks.

I’ll be slicing and dicing data, analyzing what customers are doing on the Zappos website and where they’re coming from, and utilizing our conclusions to drive improvements to our website design, marketing strategy, etc. to benefit the business. For the first few weeks at least, rather than being at a desk, I’m working alongside Zappos employees from Marketing, Search, Development, and more from a conference room playfully (or painfully) dubbed “The War Room.”

Christina has had me reading, attending meetings, and playing around with the Zappos analytics software from day 1, and I’m grateful for the opportunity so far to see how all the arms of the business come together and function as a whole.

I know all of us Zinterns are thrilled to be here, so please follow us throughout the summer right here on blogs.zappos.com. A couple of times a week, one of us will post about our projects, experiences, and insights to give everyone an inside look at the first ever internship program from a company that’s created a buzz around the country.

Thanks for reading, and trust me, at Zappos, we’re committed to Delivering Happiness from the CEO all the way down to the summer interns, so it’ll be worth 5 of your minutes each day to check in. But no other promises ;)

 

--Ravi