By Lauren Israel
“The secret of achievement is to hold a picture of a successful outcome in the mind.”
This quote, by Henry David Thoreau, examines the idea of success as a product of those that are willing to believe in success. The relevance of his quote is emphasized through the overall objective of this blog post. By reflecting on my own experience as an intern, I will discuss how to view your role as an intern from different perspectives. In looking at the internship experience through these lenses, it will help you create a better understanding of your role within a company and the value that you can deliver.
As interns, there is much more for us to consider beyond the golden ring of receiving a full-time offer. Rather, interns should consider the overall experience as the true reward, or success, of a program. Over the last four weeks of my internship at Waggener Edstrom (WE), I have had the opportunity to speak my mind, harness my creativity and that of others, and be a part of meaningful work. In viewing my role through the intern, or personal lens, I have gained insight into what is important to me – which is to be at a company where my opinion and insight is valued.
“Sharing your ideas can only help you in the growth process of your internship.”
At WE, I am given the opportunity to “manage up” or communicate on a balanced level with my boss. This form of communication is highlighted in a recent blog post called Interns: Criticizing Us Won’t Jeopardize Your Chances, written by Melissa Waggener, which touches on the importance of intern feedback in the communication process among colleagues and management. Sharing your ideas can only help you in the growth process of your internship.
However, it is important to consider how to share those messages with your boss in a productive and actionable manner. I encourage interns to consider “managing up” within their programs to optimize the intern perspective and ultimately, personal success.
Another piece of advice that I have learned from Waggener Edstrom colleagues is to be transparent. WE colleagues are consistently transparent with their advice, support, and appreciation in all aspects of their work. In considering the idea of transparency, I am able to see through the lens of my colleagues.
Through this lens, I have found that the most transparent value that WE colleagues share is their passion for their work and company culture. Whether it is explaining an innovative new project or a relationship with a fellow co-worker, I sense the excitement each person feels to come to work every day. For me, these are the type of people that I want to be around as I grow at the agency. Fellow interns, it is important to see things through your colleagues’ lenses because it will help you understand their desires and goals. This is the most effective way to gain and maintain synergy – by viewing other’s perspectives, there is a greater opportunity to achieve mutual goals.
Along with building synergy among interns and colleagues, it is also important to build that relationship with management as well. Interns, consider management’s perspective in the communication process. Waggener Edstrom managers want nothing more than to participate, influence, and listen to me and fellow interns at the company (this plays back on the concept of “managing up.”)
The open lines of communication that exist among interns and management at the agency helps solidify my perspective through the lens of management. Observations through the management lens have led me to see that they respect different opinions, ideas, and feedback. By viewing the lens through your management, you will be able to understand their communication on a different level.
Ask yourself, “What is the best way to communicate with my manager based on my observation of what they value?” Finding consistent values will lead to consistent communication.
Going into my internship at Waggener Edstrom, I thought my overall success revolved around landing a full-time offer. Five weeks in, that is not the case anymore. In considering personal, colleague, and management perspectives, I have gained insight into the core of Waggener Edstrom. That is an experience that I will have for the rest of my life, whether I receive a full-time offer or not.
By considering different perspectives and finding your own value at a company, you too can build a life-long successful experience. Who knows, you might hit the jackpot by gaining invaluable experience and receiving the full-time offer – because ultimately, you are the true judge of your success.