People, Person, Blonde, Female, Woman

It’s All Fun and Games, Until…

By Isabel Trumbull

The Epic Game Wall

…Time flies when you’re living your best #AppianINTERNLIFE! :)

One of 41 Appian summer interns, my name is Isabel Trumbull, and I am currently working as a Strategy Intern on the Appian Partner Team. The Appian Partner Team is a group dedicated to realizing Appian’s corporate strategy of expanding partnerships; in turn, more people are qualified to design Appian solutions, more companies have the opportunity to use Appian, and ultimately, we are able to grow our company name recognition.

During the past few weeks here, I have learned that learning new things is not the hard part. The hard part is knowing what I don’t know, and figuring out the right questions to ask, so that I know where to find the answer. It is a process I have not perfected, and depending on with whom I am working, the type of questions I ask and the direction I need are different each time.

Outside of work, we’ve had plenty of social events thus far, the coolest of which I’m going to tell you about in this blog. Before getting into the fun stuff, however, I should probably tell you a little more about what I do here everyday…

That’s me at UNC celebrating the end of Rugby Season 2018.

Before my internship began, I never thought I would be sitting next to Mike Beckley’s office, down the hall from Matt Calkins’ office, answering to Marc Wilson (two degrees of separation), and have heard of this “elusive” Bob Kramer on several occasions. In short, I am one of three Strategy Interns who has regular contact with the leaders of our beloved Appian, and there are 40+ interns as a whole, so my exposure is not the norm for most of us.

I would like to think that Matt and the others found the “Strategy Intern Trifecta” so incredibly interesting, that they just had to get to know the rest of the Appian Intern Class of 2018 by hosting a Board Game Night at his home. :)

(Pause on the Board Game Night for a second. I promised you an overview of my work here, so I’m going to discuss the work part first!).

Learning how to get into that “working-groove” and adapting to different work styles has probably been the most valuable takeaway I could have had so far this summer. I learned this skill set through a few different projects I’ve been working on, all with different stakeholders and outcomes in mind. I started off creating content for a series of welcome kits for different types of partners; then, I moved into some data cleaning projects.

I want to start by saying: I am not the type of person to make my bed everyday — it’s simply not in my DNA. And my “college” version of mopping? Lysol wipes attached to an off-brand swiffer, and I really do not see the point in ironing.

Knowing this about me, you would probably find it astonishing that I LOVE performing data clean up. Especially the kind of data cleaning I am doing. It’s small detail-oriented, task driven, administrative “dirty work” — but I just find it satisfying.

Without giving away too many spoilers of how we do our business internally, I have been working on two big projects since I passed off my “How To Use Appian” Guides:

  • I am retrofitting a new digital filing system to an old one [read: I am digitally re-labeling 1,000+ digital file folders]
  • I am merging together multiple sources of data for one holistic view of everything [read: I am the traffic guard getting everyone to and from 4th of July fireworks merging onto a six-lane-each-way-highway, because all of the data is constantly changing and I need to create it in a way where the lanes on the road will still exist and work even if the cars change]
  • Both of these projects seem thrilling, right? I like them because I get to do a bunch of background research to figure out the details of how the puzzle pieces fit together. By the time I am putting all of the information together, it fits; it’s like I’ve solved one puzzle that had a bunch of little mini puzzles inside (can you tell I really like puzzles? Because I do!).

    After a week of toiling over these projects, I get to see them make real change. Part of the excitement is also because the stakeholders for whom I am producing materials are very senior-level folks (a.k.a., VPs and founders).

    But even though I’ve had the opportunity to work with senior leadership, I never envisioned having the opportunity to visit the home of the CEO. I mean, how many other interns out there have been invited to the CEO’s house?

    Deep in game-thought with some of the interns!

    In truth, the Intern Board Game Night was an event Matt has been wanting to put together for some time now, and this year, he finally got the chance.

    An unofficial rundown of Matt’s gaming history (admittedly, I found these accolaids after some light recon of the interwebs):

    • According to the New York Times, Matt Calkins has always enjoyed playing games of all types
    • According to BoardGameGeek.com, he has won several events at the World Boardgaming Championships
    • 2 of the games he has designed are available on Amazon for purchase
    • 1 additional game won 2010 Runner Up Abstract Game of the Year in Games Magazine

    Also…

    • He likes puns
    • His house is awesome

    When I heard Matt was hosting a Board Game Night, I thought I knew what I’d be walking into: Monopoly, Life, Clue, etc, you know, the usual suspects.

    Matt explaining his love of games!

    Instead, we were faced with hundreds of games — many of which I’ve never heard — and were initially separated into four different groups (primarily based on our skill-levels). The most advanced gamers were given the opportunity to challenge Matt, while those of us who haven’t achieved a higher ranking than Greenhorn in The Oregon Trail, were grouped together with a gaming veteran to help us better understand the rules.

    Being grouped off to the side with the books was a dream. I was able to spend time getting to know the people I was playing with, and taking in the sights of Matt’s home.

    View from Matt’s living room — see the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial?

    The sights included: an amazing view over the Potomac, a bookshelf that gives the Library of Congress a run for its money, a seemingly never-ending and meticulously organized game collection, a hidden half bath with a Toto, and a ceiling that angles every which way. Oh, and not to mention the fish fossil hanging on the wall (lowkey built into the wall so the whole wall was the frame for the fossil).

    (You know the fossil I’m talking about — the really cool, full fossil that is about 4 feet long and clearly a fish-dolphins but also has legs, and paleontologists have used them to trace when evolution began allowing animals to roam on land and at sea? Yeah, that one!).

    I played Poison, which I was quite good at, until everyone else figured out the strategy. :) Poison is a game about limits to the amount of potion a cauldron could hold. I also played Codenames, which was very challenging, but my team won! (protip: you essentially have to group words together to give people hints about which words are yours and keep them away from the other teams words…)

    Senior Consultant (and “Game Master”), Joe Cardone facilitating 7 Wonders.

    Given that many of us were first timers to these games, the instructional aspects and learning curve (if you will) provided many opportunities for conversation; it also helped us interns learn more about everyone’s day to day experiences at Appian (and, of course, afforded us the ability to talk to the “Game Masters,” [a.k.a., Matt Board Game Night Veterans] who all also happen to be Appian employees).

    ***

    Here at Appian, we love feedback. So my feedback for Game Night is: we should do it again! @Matt can we make this a regular activity? If not: how about a monthly lunch gathering or all-ages happy hour? I’m sure you have tons of free time… :)


    It’s All Fun and Games, Until… was originally published in AppianLIFE on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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    Published on Jul 17, 2018

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