Shoeboxed Shenanigans: Code Camp Edition

Shoeboxed Shenanigans gives you a glimpse into fun(ny) happenings here at Shoeboxed HQ. In this edition, you’ll learn about our new coding classes for the office!

Shoeboxed Shenanigans is a weekly feature that gives you a glimpse into our lives here at Shoeboxed HQ. Each installment will share a story about our office, the people in it, or something fun we did to take a break from keeping the world organized. Even organized superheroes like us deserve a break every once in a while, right? Anyway, we’re not the most serious group of individuals so read on and enjoy!

Coding is Cool

Shoeboxed is built on a variety of complicated technologies that most people wouldn’t be able to decipher if their lives depended on it. For the most part, the marketing and sales teams here at Shoeboxed are included in that group as well. We didn’t study computer science in college or get our Bachelors degrees in engineering, after all. Most of us studied business or humanities or journalism. We may be relatively tech savvy, but the whole coding thing and making computers talk to one another is way over our heads.

That was the case at least until Shoeboxed Code Camp started two weeks ago.

The goal of Code Camp is to teach those of us who speak English for a living to essentially speak computer. That’s not to say that we need to be able to create the next Google or complete the next round of Shoeboxed web upgrades, but since we work at a tech startup, we should be able to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Enter Code Camp. Our first session involved an introduction by our very own CEO & CTO Taylor Mingos. He laid the groundwork for what we’d be learning in the class, as well as giving us a general overview to coding. After that we started learning at full speed!

From downloading coding programs like Git and typing lines into Terminal (a program that looks like my 90’s computer games came back to life), our brains are getting filled to the brim with new knowledge. Every Tuesday and Thursday our office is converted into a classroom, and developers sit side-by-side with the whole team to guide the way. We work together to expand our skillsets. It’s a win-win on both sides: our sales and marketing teams learn how to code, and the development team learns patience by teaching us newbies without flipping desks over in fits of frustration.

It’s also a welcome change from our normal day to day duties, a chance to step outside of talking to customers or tweeting. But the best part might be that the departmental lines are blurred when it comes to Code Camp. Twice a week we get to hang out with people we don’t get to on a daily basis and learn a thing or two about coding while we’re at it. Maybe one day we’ll be able to build a new product or even just handle technical customer issues without having to ask a developer. Well, a girl can dream.

Shoeboxed Team Spotlight: Sarah Atkin

In this Shoeboxed Team Spotlight, get to know the newest (and youngest!) member of the team, our new Lead Customer Advocate, Sarah Atkin.

It’s time for everyone’s favorite monthly feature: The Shoeboxed Team Spotlight! Each month we interview a member of our team so you can get to know the people helping you get organized.

In this month’s spotlight, we’re thrilled to introduce the newest member of the Shoeboxed team:

Sarah_02Sarah Atkin, our new Lead Customer Advocate! Sarah started as an intern in May, working with our support team on email and live chat inquiries. Today, she’s a full-time team member who spends her days helping customers get the most out of Shoeboxed and working with our internal teams to ensure the best possible experience for our users. So without further ado, here’s your chance to learn more about Sarah and why she’s passionate about supporting our user base.

Shoeboxed: Hi, Sarah! Thanks for taking the time to chat– we know you stay busy! So, let’s start with you sharing a little background on yourself up until joining the team.

942566_10200676287963095_1919120391_nSarah Atkin: Sure! I’m originally from Rochester, NY (so basically Canada), and I have two older twin sisters and a younger brother. They’re a lot cooler than me so I try to emulate them as much as possible. All four of us actually went to Washington University in St. Louis, and I graduated in May. So now it’s on to the real world!

SBX: That’s awesome! How did you come to join Shoeboxed?

SA: Honestly, I was just frantically searching for jobs during my senior year, and I was hoping that I would find an opportunity at a startup. I interned at one after my sophomore year of college, and I really enjoyed the high-energy atmosphere and the fact that every day is different. So when I came across an internship opportunity at Shoeboxed, I immediately applied. I was thrilled to get the job and loved it. I guess the feelings were mutual because I’m a full-time member of the team now!

SBX: Former interns like you and Mike certainly make great team members, and we’re so glad to have you! Can you tell everyone a bit about what you do here?

SA: Absolutely. In a nutshell, I’m in charge of the customer support department here at Shoeboxed! I answer emails and make sure that our users are as happy as can be. I also work on initiatives aimed at improving customer satisfaction, consumer engagement and marketing projects that deal directly with our users. Recently I started working on press strategies as well. I’m always up to try different things around here, though. The other day, I helped build a picnic table for the outdoor area of the office!

SBX: You’re quite the team player. :) So out of all those things, what’s your favorite part of your job?

SA: It’s hard to pick just one– I really like being able to work on a lot of different projects for Shoeboxed. The team atmosphere here is awesome and you can get involved in all aspects of the company. But the greatest thing about my job is that I get to connect with our users on a daily basis. You guys rock!

SBX: We definitely have awesome customers! Besides working with our users, what’s the best part about working at Shoeboxed?

SA: Working at Shoeboxed is awesome because we have a great team and work environment here. You can always find someone to play ping pong with, and the office is constantly stocked with fresh popcorn and Red Bull. What more can a girl ask for?

SBX: We agree. So far the questions have been pretty easy, so here’s a challenge: describe yourself in three words.

SA:  Funny, caring and optimistic.

SBX: Nice! I like this quote from Winston Churchill: “For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.” But anyway, where would we find you when you’re not at the office?

IMG_1144SA: When I’m not working, you can find me at the gym or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen. I also love snowboarding and traveling to visit friends and family.

SBX: Maybe one day you’ll try out a new cookie recipe on the team? Here’s hoping. Okay, moving on: give us one tip for staying organized.

SA: Write things down! And plan out when you’re going to accomplish certain tasks. That way, if it’s not time to do something you’re not needlessly worrying about it.

SBX: Sounds like a solid tip. So even though you’re new to the area, what’s the best thing about our hometown of Durham that you’ve experienced so far?

SA: My favorite thing about Durham would have to be the weather. That might sound weird to some people, but growing up in Rochester, NY, and then going to St. Louis for college, I appreciate being able to enjoy the sun for more than 2 months a year!

SBX: It’s tough to beat summer weather in North Carolina, but stay tuned for autumn! Here’s another toughie: what’s your best purchase so far in life?

SA: My car for sure. I bought my Chevrolet Cruze (her name is Cece) when I graduated college, and the two of us have been inseparable ever since.

SBX: Awesome. To wrap this up, give us your six word memoir.

SA: My life is one big adventure.

SBX: Sounds about right! Thanks for taking the time to chat and let our readers get to know you better, Sarah! To our users: make sure to welcome Sarah to the team next time you contact our support team! :)

Stay tuned next month for an interview with another awesome Shoeboxed team member, and in the meantime, stay organized out there!

Shoeboxed Gives Back: Creative Food Drive 2012

On September 22, Shoeboxed joined other Durham companies in participating in the Creative Food Drive to collect food for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, as well as for the non-profit organization Housing for New Hope. In addition to collecting donations for these organizations, it was a great chance to spend time with friends in our local community.

In addition to raising food donations, CFD also sponsors a creative competition for each team to build a unique structure made from the canned food they collected. We had a blast building a replica of the SunTrust Tower (ok, we gave it a special Shoeboxed touch!), a building that we all recognize from the Durham skyline.

Shoeboxed Team at Creative Food Drive 2012

Along with the other participants, Shoeboxed helped to raise 12,000 pounds of food – that’s over 10,000 meals for people in need. We are so glad that we had the opportunity to give back to the Durham community, which has always supported Shoeboxed and our growing business!

You can find more information about the Creative Food Drive and how you can help here. We’d also liked to extend a special thank you to MHAworks for hosting the event.