The Worldclass Internship – Laura Wrightson at Target

Name: Laura Wrightson Graduation

Graduation Year: 2014

Major/Minor: Marketing/ Communication

Company Interned For: Target

Hometown: Sterling, MA

AC: Target says on their career section of the website that they offer a world-class internship with a lot of leadership and career development.  Does that explain your internship in a nutshell?  If yes, why?
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LW: Yes, I have to say, Target’s internship was a useful and adequate view of what real world management consists of. As an intern, I was treated as if I was a long-time manager as I was given high authority and much insight into the full-time position. They are very adamant on ensuring that the interns are completing activities that are directly related to development and a sense of leadership. Target has a good view on what an internship experience should be like. They claim “Fast, Fun, and Friendly” and they certainly were not lying.
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AC: What was your position at Target?  Your schedule?  What were your day to day activities?
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LW: As an intern, we were essentially “hourly managers,” almost like a manager in training. You get assigned to a store (one that is in your own chosen top five), and you become part of that store immediately. There are five different work centers with which you can be assigned to, and with that, you get the respective manager to that work center as a mentor as well. You perform all of the duties a regular manager would perform (which includes taking out the trash!). Later in the internship, you get a bit more authority and are given the ability to perform “LOD,” or leader on duty tasks, which essentially gives you the rights to the whole building (which means authority over the store manager as well!). It is a bit uneasy at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is an absolute blast. You truly get a full boat of authority!
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AC: What sets Target apart from other companies?
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LW: What I like about Target is they are understanding of the fact that many students may not have experience prior to this internship. One of the biggest problems students can have these days is the inability to get a hold of a job because the job requires a certain amount of experience, experience you cannot get if you don’t start the job! Target, however, operates on the idea that no one is going to come in and know exactly what to do. Therefore, they choose candidates based on their personalities and their perceived ability to learn as they believe that you can train anyone in any position. That, and their very intensive, involved, and interactive internship, is what I believe sets them apart from other companies. On a side note-every single person you meet is fantastic because of the fact that they hire based on a fast, fun, and friendly personality.
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AC: How did you hear about this internship?
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LW: I first learned about this internship through the Bryant Marketing Association. Even though this internship was not consistent with the marketing theme, they were a fantastic addition to the career fair with many representatives, a lot of information, and a great set-up! I spoke to a Target team member about the internship that night and quickly went back to begin applying. After three very information intensive interviews, I was in!
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AC: What experiences at Bryant helped you the most during your experiences with Target?
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LW: I would have to say that my communications courses, particularly interpersonal communication, offered the most insight into my internship. Having learned about types of relationships and different ways to communicate with different types of people, I believe my perceived status as a manager to the other team members was increased. Communication and skill in that area is one of the most important things I think a person needs to have to be successful in the business world. You could have all of the ideas in the world, but if you don’t have the skills to relay that information in a way that interests people enough for them to listen, then you’ll forever be another fish in the sea.
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AC: What did you take away from this internship?
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LW: I took away the ability to demonstrate courage, the knowledge of the tough road to becoming a manager and how to be a successful , and most importantly, I walked away with more of a desire to take risks-something that I think will be most important to me in my future marketing career.
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Christopher Anderson’s Experience

Name: Christopher Anderson
Graduation Year: 2014
Major/Minor: International Business/French language
Hometown: Quincy, MA

AC: Tell us a little about Prism Energy Services and how you heard them.

CA: Prism Energy Services is a small firm founded in Quincy, MA in the energy conservation industry that works closely with utility companies such as National Grid and NSTAR to help Massachusetts businesses become more energy efficient with their lighting and gas measures through incentives from the utility companies.  My older brother started out as an intern with them and then became a full-time employee and it was through him that I learned about the company and eventually became an intern myself.

AC: What was a typical day like interning at Prism Energy Services?

CA: When I began working as an intern, I elected to work full-time hours so my day began at 8am and ended at 5pm.  Typically, I would come in and begin the day with data entry work, which was my main responsibility, but I soon found myself also doing customer service, preparing reports, filing audits, and even helping out with some marketing materials.

AC: How had Bryant prepared you for this internship?

CA: Prior to coming to Bryant, I didn’t know much about business, but was eager to learn.  Learning about business in a classroom, however, is much different from working along full-time employees and really experiencing what it is like to work in a business environment.  I was able to see first hand the issues and the problem solving that go on on a day to day basis.  Also, as an IB major concentrating in marketing, I was able to get some experience by creating a couple press releases and researching the media outlets available in which to market a targeted promotion in Cambridge, MA.

AC: How has Prism Energy Services prepared you for your future?

CA: Prism Energy Services has prepared me beyond just the work experience that I gained while working there, but also what I should expect when applying for jobs, how to conduct myself in a work environment, and how to work with a team, because even though everyone has their job title and their own work, you are still part of a team and need to do you’re part beyond just what is expected of you.

AC: What would you say was your best memory working there?

CA: My best memory of working there was towards the end of my internship when my coworkers were looking to hire my replacement, I became aware that they were trying to hire someone in my image, because of the level of detail and attention I paid to my work and the way that I worked that was beneficial to my coworkers.  That truly made me feel appreciated and that my work as an intern did not go unnoticed.

AC: What is your advice for anyone who may be interested in taking part in an internship in the future?

CA: My advice is to take advantage of an internship opportunity immediately. I was fortunate enough to have had a connection with Prism Energy Services, but working as an intern not only gives you valuable work experience and something to put on your resume, but it is a first-hand look at what goes on in a business environment. You get the opportunity to learn what is expected of you, good business etiquette, and for me, what my company valued in an employee.


The Washington Center – Brian Gowen

The Ronald Reagan International Trade Center-the building I worked in

Name: Brian Gowen
Graduation Year: 2012
Major/Minor: Global Studies and Economics / Business Administration
Hometown: Lincroft, NJ

Internship Site: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

AC: How did you hear about The Washington Center internship program?

BG: I heard about The Washington Center program through the Amica Center.  They had advertised it on posters in classrooms and in the hallways, and I had received emails from them as well.  In addition, a TWC representative had a table in the Roto during my sophomore year, and I had the chance to talk with her more deeply about the program and take some materials to read.  I did a lot of my own research as well by exploring various pages on their website regarding internship sites where TWC had students had been placed previously, course options, past student experiences, and living arrangements.  I was really drawn to the program initially because I knew if I was accepted, I was guaranteed a placement at an internship site that TWC regularly works with.  This was appealing- and also very comforting- because I knew that the path and process for getting an internship in my subject was not as easy or as clear cut as is it for other students at Bryant.

AC: TWC’s mission is “The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars provides students with transformational experiences that foster academic and professional achievement, leadership and civic engagement.”  Did this mission hold true in your internship?  How?

BG: This mission definitely held true for my TWC experience.  I interned at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, which is a public policy think tank (a research organization that engages in discussion and advocacy on various issues), and worked specifically in the area of macroeconomics and U.S. economic competitiveness relative to countries around the world.  In addition, I was a research assistant for an author writing a book on entrepreneurship and leadership.

Book author, Amy Wilkinson, and I before her presentation on entrepreneurship at the National Governor’s Association winter meeting

 This experience was unlike anything else I have done in my academic career.  My internship solidified and reinforced many of the skills I have learned at Bryant, but it also provided me with a unique experience that helped me to grow and mature as a professional.  I learned how to interact with those older, wiser, and more senior than me, as well as how to adapt and work within a professional environment.  I had the opportunity to attend many professional events around the city such as seminars, hearings, and summits, and this really improved my networking abilities.

In terms of leadership, my abilities were further strengthened by my work at the internship site.  I had developed these skills significantly during my time at Bryant, but was able to apply them in a professional setting.  For example, as the only full-time intern in my Wilson Center program, I was the leader on a group project where we researched various topics in American economic competitiveness and compiled this into a comprehensive presentation to be used by our program director.  As a nice bit of gratification, I was actually recognized for my efforts by my supervisors and TWC program advisor and received The Washington Center Leadership Pillar Award at the end of the year.

Civic engagement was not a subject I was very familiar with, but TWC delivered on its promise, and I learned a lot from this component of the program.  I participated in a project about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in which we ultimately lobbied members of Congress for the two-state solution.  This taught me a great deal about the democratic process and the ability for citizens to take an active part in their government.  For someone who is interested in working in public policy and government, this was an invaluable and unique experience.

AC: Tell us more about the program you participated in.

BG: I participated in the International Affairs program track at TWC.  This was one of the larger ones in terms of groups of students.  TWC offers numerous program tracks including advocacy and arts, business and economics, political leadership, communications, and law and criminal justice.

The program track is normally a student’s primary interest area, and your “program advisor” coordinates events that correspond to that interest area.  This often corresponds to your internship site, but that is not mandatory.  For example, in international affairs, we attended information sessions at the World Bank, US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Israeli Embassy and listened to a panel on fair trade.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney speaker to all of The Washington Center students

AC: What was a typical day like interning at the Wilson Center?

BG: A typical day normally started between 8:30 and 9am when I arrived at the office, and I usually left between 5 and 5:30.  I would start by checking the Wilson Center email and scrolling through our Twitter feed for relative news and events.  I would schedule tweets and posts for the day.  Each day I would also work on a blog post for the day, which usually focused on a major piece of news from the previous few days related to our subject area with our own analysis and insight.  If we were planning an event in the near future, I would manage the RSVP lists and work to promote the event through our network.

The bulk of my time was spent doing research.  I would normally receive a list of research topics from my program director every couple weeks, and my team and I would methodically go through the list, turning in research briefings on individual topics as they were completed.  These topics could include anything from new legislation, recent economic data, and education reform.  As the author’s assistant, I would research companies and individual entrepreneurs and work to see if they could be worked into specific chapters of the book.

AC: How had Bryant prepared you for this internship?

BG: Bryant prepared me for this internship in many ways.  First, I definitely felt that I had sufficient skills and knowledge to be an effective and valuable contributor to my team.  In addition, my business acumen was something that differentiated me from many other students. Those skills are useful no matter what industry you work in, and this is a piece of my Bryant education that I value greatly.  This particularly helped with my role as a research assistant for the book author.  She had an extensive business background and appreciated my business sense.  This not only helped with understanding her book and the research, but also with her on presentations and speeches and marketing her book.    Bryant’s focus on presentation skills, public speaking, and teamwork were also highly useful and benefited me greatly.

AC: What was your favorite part?  How about your least?

BG: My favorite part of the experience was stepping outside of the classroom and into a professional setting.  This is invaluable for any student and it taught me a lot about myself, my goals, my strengths and weaknesses, and my likes and dislikes in both career path and work environment.  I also really enjoyed living in a city, especially in Washington, D.C.  There is not only plenty to do as a young professional, but, as a student interested in a politics and policy, I felt like I was at the center of that universe.  I enjoyed interacting with people who had similar interests and worldviews as I did, which was intellectually stimulating and invigorating.

My least favorite part was probably getting adjusted to a new lifestyle and schedule.  The professional schedule of 9 to 5 was demanding at times, and this combined with class, programming, and the civic engagement project, consumed a lot of my time.  My days went quickly, and I wish I had some more time to explore different parts of the city.  They experience was completely worth it, but proper time management is really critical in this program.

AC: What is your advice for anyone who may be interested in interning for TWC?

Me and two other interns at my office

BG: One critical piece of advice for anyone considering this program is get started early.  Look into applying early and getting far in front of deadlines.  This is because most of the prestigious and more competitive internship sites have much earlier deadlines.  For example, sites like the White House and the State and Defense Departments require application approximately five months in advance of when you will start your internship.  So apply and get admitted as early as possible so you can take advantage of every possible opportunity.

In addition, don’t be afraid to go out and look for a site on your own, even if TWC hasn’t had a relationship with them in the past.  Not only was my application forwarded to various organizations by TWC staff, but I also took it upon myself to look at other competitive sites and deadlines.  As long as you are accepted and inform your advisor, TWC is willing to work with you.

This is very cliché, but take advantage of everything you possibly can in Washington, D.C.  Go to the monuments and see the sites, but also attend hearings on Capitol Hill and go to other think tank events in the city.  The city is overflowing with intellectual and professional capital, and you should try to absorb as much of that as you possibly can.

 

Brian can be contacted at wgowen@bryant.edu if you have any other questions for her, or just want to hear more about his interning experience!


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The Virtual Internship – Jessica Kline

Jessica in front of The New York Stock Exchange

Name: Jessica Kline
Graduation Year: 2014
Major/Minor: Marketing and Management with a Communication minor
Company Interned For: Amber Blue Skincare
Hometown: Milford, CT

AC: What is Amber Blue Skincare?

JK: Amber Blue Skincare is a company based out of New York City and Massachusetts.  It’s ran by a mother-daughter team who bring both the serious business and the gardening soft-touch end to the business.  Their skincare products are plant-based and their ingredients are naturally derived; containing no chemicals, mineral oils, or petroleum.  Hint: Those are typical ingredients found in your skincare products!

AC: What was your internship position?

JK: My internship position was the social media coordinator.  What I did, from a day to day basis, was manage their Twitter account, Facebook page, and WordPress Blog.  My favorite part was managing the blog because I love to write and it was the part that kept me the most busy.  Did I mention I did all of this from bed?  That is the best part about taking a “virtual” position.  With AB Skincare running from both NYC and Massachusetts, it was impossible for me to be in two places at once!  So, we had regular conference calls on a weekly basis and always kept in contact through email on a daily basis…all while I was able to sit, in my pajamas, in bed.

AC: That sounds like any employers dream but were there any negatives to working virtually?

JK: Of course.  Just like there is always a sunny side to every situation, there usually is a dark side too.  My boss always said she wishes she could carry me in her pocket throughout the day because I was kind of like her mini-me.  Being in NYC with her would have made things ten times easier-think of how much easier it is at any office to just lean over to the next cubicle or knock on your co-workers door to ask a quick question.  Although we all were very good about constantly checking our emails and phone, there were times when getting a simple answer was just a waiting game.

AC: How had Bryant prepared you for this internship?

JK: Where do I even begin?!  I have only taken one social media class at Bryant.  It was taught by Kevin Pierce.  Although I’ve heard of social media prior and used it, this class really opened my eyes to see the effect it could, and usually does, have on everyday life including businesses.  So I guess Bryant opened the door to my social media adventures but what they really prepared me for was the professionalism.  Although I was doing this from home, I still held regular conference calls and made multiple trips into NYC for meetings.  I knew exactly how to hold a business conversation on the phone and in person, dress for a meeting, shake a hand or two, and keep up with all the work handed to me…thanks to Bryant.

AC: What would you say was your favorite part about working for Amber Blue Skincare?

Mojito Skin Cream by AB

JK: My boss has a lot of crazy connections so my summer was spent hanging out in the board room of The New York Stock Exchange.  Okay, that may be a little bit exaggerated but I made a great connection with a few people from the New York Stock Exchange! They took me to breakfast, brought me to the trade floor, let me watch the ringing of the bell, let me sit in the board room, invited me to attend a few symposiums, and offered me an internship.  I made multiple trips there this summer, that was probably my favorite part of being an “AB employee”.  Also the experience behind it all.  It was just an eye-opener to see what really separates organic and all-natural products from store-bought products.

AC: What is your advice for anyone who may be interested in taking part in an internship in the future?

JK: Grab any, and every, opportunity you can!  Even if it’s something you don’t think you will like because in the end, it’s all a big learning experience.  Always send a thank you letter after your interview; if you don’t hear back by the time they said they would get back to you, follow up; and always put your best foot forward every day you walk in the office, even if you’re laying in bed!

Jessica can be contacted at jkline@bryant.edu if you have any other questions for her, or just want to hear more about her interning experience!