Emily Hernandez
by Emily Hernandez

C’est la Vie or C’est la COVID-19?

For years I’ve been eager to look for career opportunities in Austin, Texas. One weekend trip this past May, I was driving downtown in awe of the sky scraper buildings around Lady Bird lake, and I began manifesting a plan to move to Austin. My plan worked so well that within two weeks, I was accepting a Product Marketing position with CDK Global and finalizing an apartment sublease. I felt like I owned the world as I closed the U-Haul truck door, and began to move into my new city! I was quickly humbled when only 3 days after my move I got an email from CDK that Austin was extending the “Working from Home Order” until August 15th. A remote internship was not in my manifestation plan, and I felt discouraged that I would not be getting the young professional Austinite experience that I craved. C’est la vie!

As my internship has continued on I’ve learned that ironically the Fortellis team has always worked thousands of miles apart, yet they are a close knit, highly efficient team. Patience is my virtue, and though working situations look much different during a pandemic, I am a full believer in the power of manifesting your dreams into reality. My move to Austin has been more colorful and happier than all my day-dreams, and I cannot wait to see what my future has in store here. 

One door closes and another opens

My internship on the CDK Global / Fortellis team during summer 20’ has been very rewarding. I’m grateful for the opportunity to cultivate professional interpersonal skills, strengthen my creation and execution skills while supporting strategic product marketing plans, and grow a greater appreciation for the automotive industry. Earning this position was a true testament to the positive impact that networking, and having confidence in my capabilities can have on my career. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I lost my previously aligned product marketing internship with another company. I was defeated by the loss of my job, and worried I would not be able to find another valuable position. 

I use LinkedIn as a major business networking platform, where I began to explore other marketing opportunities. Not too long into my search, I found a product marketing internship for CDK Global, a technology solutions company in the automotive industry. This position aligned with all the goals I had set for myself, and could immediately tell CDK Global would help me prosper in ways I hadn’t imagined. I was excited to see how my previous experience aligned with this position, and how the position would enrich my skills as a marketer. 

I immediately researched the company, the employees, and eagerly applied for the role. Texas A&M University has taught me the importance of networking by contacting the company’s hiring representatives personally to put my best foot forward for the position. Within a week I applied for the position, contacted the internship coordinator Molly Szabo, and was preparing for an interview with the Senior Director of Product Marketing Leigh Ann Conver.  

More than your average interview

My interview with Leigh Ann went well, and we had an insightful discussion about CDK’s company culture, their future goals of growth and success for the Fortellis team, and how I can best apply myself to give quality marketing contributions to the team. Leigh Ann explained her intentions for my growth during this internship which included gaining real-world experience on marketing tactics such as: websites, newsletters, social media, advertising etc., and gaining insight to the vast amount of business opportunities available in the automotive technology retail space. 

My New Remote Reality

My virtual internship with the product marketing department began June 15th.  Although it is unfortunate that I will not be able to meet my wonderful coworkers in person, I appreciate the precautions to ensure workplace safety from COVID-19. In the wake of this pandemic, in March I transitioned to online courses at Texas A&M. Quickly adapting to this changing environment ultimately helped prepare me for a virtual internship. 

Taking it All In

I am impressed with the amount of consideration my Internship Coordinators have given to provide me, and my fellow interns, with an inclusive and well-organized program. Molly Szabo and Sammie Cooke have created amazing opportunities for the interns to engage with leadership across the multi-functional departments of CDK. On behalf of their strategic planning, the interns have embarked on a Leadership Learning Series in which we meet on Zoom weekly with CDK leaders. This provided us  the unique opportunity to learn what led these leaders to CDK. In addition to their amazing stories, we received valuable advice about beginning a successful career, while answering countless questions we have about CDK Global. Our first host particularly stood out to me; Mahesh Shah, CDK’s EVP Chief Product and Technology Officer.  

Mahesh shared experience, proving that true impact can be made by combining innovation and amplification. This profound concept along with actionable advice on how to succeed as an intern truly inspired me.  I expect to be presented with opportunities and projects that I have never attempted before, and the possibility of failure is intimidating. Thanks to the guidance and inspiration of people like Mahesh , I am finding new confidence in my ability to take on the challenges ahead. 

Pushing Myself Everyday 

Throughout this summer I am working on various projects including, competitive analysis research for the Fortellis team, discovering ways to track Fortellis user KPIs (Key Performance Indicator), and developing a social media community engagement model. I have had the privilege of assisting my mentor Brian Miller with managing a CDK Payment Settling API InVent to virtually engage with dealers on newly developed Fortellis technologies. 

I’ve learned how well the Fortellis platform offers dealers an enhanced user experience through innovative connections of common APIs and integrated apps. During my time on the Fortellis team we celebrated the success of surpassing a milestone of 10,000,000 transactions through the APIs and apps within the platform. 

I am grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained about the automotive industry from the Fortellis team. I feel energized by their knowledge, hard work ethic, creative, conceptual and diagnostic skills they leverage to successfully perform in such a high demand work environment. I look forward to continuing my marketing projects on this team, and every day I find myself growing as I learn new skills and embrace diverse challenges.

This is Only the Beginning    

My experience on the CDK Global / Fortellis team has helped me grow into a proud employee, more confident networker, and an aspirational planner. I am very lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive team of coworkers and fellow interns, and I would be honored to continue my career with this intelligent team post-graduation. Following my dreams, and moving to Austin has felt very empowering. I know that I am a developing into a strong young professional as I become more self-sufficient, accountable, and accomplished.

My internship has not only given me more depth to my professional experience, but it has also impacted my personal life for the better. I recognize that I will never be done learning and growing in life, but for now, I am eager to continue to manifest aspirational goals for myself. I am motivated by my own ambition, and my potential is limitless. 

Authored on Fri, 07/24/2020 - 19:57