Integrated Agency Blog

From Imposter Syndrome to Confidence: The Programming Internship Experience at FabCom

College Knowledge

Going into computer science, I always heard about the high dropout rates, the complex concepts, and the challenges of entering a rapidly evolving field juxtaposed by an outdated curriculum. I didn’t let any of this phase me at the beginning of my college career, but the closer I got to the ‘real world,’ the more I started to feel the pressure.

Coming from a family with no college graduates, everybody looked to me as the ‘smart one’ who was going to secure a great career. At the start, I full-heartedly believed this as well — but that feeling dwindled as my time in college progressed. The further I got in college, the less I felt any of the knowledge I gained amounted to anything substantial. My computer science degree wasn’t teaching me skills I felt I needed to be ready for the workplace. Instead of working on team-building skills and actual coding, I was just reiterating the same theories each year and spending a significant amount of time on required math courses.

I knew the only way that I would be able to succeed in my field was to learn by doing, so I started looking for an internship that would allow me to actually apply my skills. I soon landed a programming internship at FabCom, an integrated marketing agency in Scottsdale! As excited as I was, I was not yet confident in the knowledge I obtained from college. I had finally caught a case of the famous ‘imposter syndrome’ that everyone talked about in my field.

Embracing the Imposter Feeling While Transitioning from College to the Workplace

Thankfully for me, it did not last long. From the first minute I walked into FabCom, I felt welcomed and supported by everyone on the strategic marketing agency team. I thought I was going to be judged and evaluated on every step I took, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. I remember my first day on the job, I got to talk with one of the senior software engineers who said, “If you have imposter syndrome, don’t worry about it. Embrace it even if you have to do so with blind confidence — we will help you get over that quickly.” I may not have believed it completely then, but that was the best advice I could have been given, as on that same day I was instantly put on task to learn and start building with the team.

I progressed with tasks at the perfect rate, which allowed me to conquer the learning curve a lot quicker than I thought I ever could. The difference between being a college student and being in the workplace is massive. The work can be just as hard as college (and sometimes even more so), but the feeling of doing something that matters makes it fun and rewarding. The knowledge and skills I have gained from working at this full-service advertising agency make it that much easier, as I have learned more relevant information here within my first three months than I did within my first three years in college!

FabCom’s Knowledge Base

Michael Carpenter at FabCom's Scottsdale headquarters
Programming Intern Michael Carpenter, pictured at FabCom's Scottsdale headquarters.

Coming into FabCom, I didn’t think there could be that many software engineering skills that I could learn from a marketing and advertising company, but I soon realized that I was becoming a part of something much more than that. The level of care and dedication that FabCom delivers to its clients is impressive and inspiring. FabCom is a digital marketing agency that invests in its people, whether a client or employee. This dedication is demonstrated through various projects and initiatives that go well beyond expectations.

Before my internship started, the CEO and founder of the top Scottsdale marketing agency, Brian Fabiano, put me through Google Analytics 4 (GA4) training. This allowed me to gain new insight into one component of the technical side of marketing—seeing how businesses can wrangle and make use of powerful data and analytics to create outcomes that meet and surpass the goals and objectives set by the team and clients. This third-party training was just the start of my introduction to what an internship at a leading Phoenix-area digital marketing agency would be like. I got the chance to learn directly from Brian Fabiano himself early on, as he explained to me what went into building one of the top integrated marketing agencies in Arizona over the past 30-plus years.

One of the most exciting things that FabCom has spearheaded in recent years is HReality, a project that I believe has the potential to change the modern day classroom as we know it. A hybrid virtual reality environment that implements a person’s real-world appearance in order to connect with other users anywhere in the world, HReality has numerous practical uses in education and other industries. Being an aspiring software engineer, and only an intern thus far, I was not expecting to learn about all of the different implications and building that goes on behind the scenes of a digital advertising agency. But the learning experience at FabCom is a novel one that has not only helped me build on my programming skills, but has also taught me so much about how the marketing and business worlds work. In hindsight, I guess I should have expected no less, working with a team formed by a leader that was somehow able to break ground in digital media and desktop publishing before the ‘.com boom’ was even a thought in the air. Being a select part of this experience, I have made sure not to take the opportunity for granted.

The Value of the Team

I could go on and write about every team member here at FabCom and what they contribute as well as what they have achieved, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is how everyone's talents and personalities come together to create an inspiring atmosphere that has encouraged me to embrace what I don’t know and learn from mistakes to achieve what I thought I never could. Going through college, especially during the pandemic and post-pandemic world, I was never taught how to work with a team the right way.

As I mentioned earlier, thanks to the team-oriented environment here at FabCom, that feeling went away rather quickly. The team made me feel welcomed and important. I never felt like I was being treated like the ‘new guy,’ but instead like I was a valuable and needed part of the team. This experience has really made me realize the value of what can be accomplished as a team, if everyone is working together in lockstep to achieve the same goals and objectives. This realization is one of, if not, the most important thing that FabCom has offered me, as it will be something that I can apply to every aspect of my life, my future endeavors here at FabCom, and in the final stretch of my college career!