This summer was nowhere near close to what I thought it would be. I packed up my desk for the last time, slipping post-it notes into the trash and emptying my snack drawer, anxious about the number of “goodbyes” I was going to have to make. Not only was I leaving a job unrelated to my major, but one I hadn’t really even entertained the field of until a month before I got my internship. Looking back to February of this year when I first wrote my pre-internship goals paper, I still had high hopes that I would land an amazing consulting internship with a great company that would hire me at the end and I would be set. On the other hand, I still was really interested in the fashion world and PR. I was applying to internships in these fields and wasn’t having much luck. One interview for a fashion PR firm was so tragic they didn’t even ask me any questions, not one. I was so bummed, and summer kept inching closer. Around that time, I was super into a bunch of different real estate shows, and decided to apply to a few real estate related internships because I had always been exposed to the market from my parents. A month later, I accepted an internship with Sotheby’s.
Fast forward to now, I am so happy with where I did end up. I could see myself back at Realogy after graduation, possibly with more of a business/finance type role instead of marketing. I was doing a lot of visual marketing which I realized was not my favorite and enjoyed working with Excel and the interactive marketing team more. I am happy I did not end up in the PR/fashion industry after speaking with many people at Realogy who had been there before and told me about their day-to-day jobs comparative to what it is now. As for consulting, I am definitely still considering it. Speaking to the general goals I outlined in my first paper for any internship I acquired, I wanted a job where I was not doing the same thing every day working in a collaborative environment and forming countless relationships to kickstart my professional network and career.
Going deeper into each of these goals, the office that I worked in was the supportive and collaborative office that I wanted, where people were constantly meeting with other people in conference rooms and at each other’s desks. People are always willing to help you with anything, even if they have nothing to do with that project. I think the dress code Dress For Your Day helped establish this casual but professional atmosphere where sometimes blazers and full suits were necessary, and others jeans and a tee shirt were perfectly acceptable. I really appreciated the responsibility that came along with this and the trust to not abuse it. The openness of the office allowed me to meet with almost everyone in my immediate group (Sotheby’s), and many out of it as well. I was able to see how work relationships differ (and not) from friendships and classmates and how people act in an office. Office etiquette is different from office to office as I noticed comparing this summers’ internship to last, but also are very similar in the high level of respect that is expected from everyone and towards everyone, independent of their rank/hierarchy/etc.
The contacts and relationships that I made throughout the eight weeks are one of the best things that I got out of the internships. I was able to talk with those above me about their experience in the field and with the company so far, as well as how they got there and what roadblocks they overcame. Every week we had lunch with a different group within Realogy such as legal, finance, strategy, etc., about what each of them does for the company and their roles within Realogy. The more interesting part of these were their backgrounds and paths to get to where they are now. Maybe one of the over 30 people we had met with studied any type of real estate in college and the same numbers apply for the amount of people who went into real estate right out of college. One woman started in a toilet paper company because, “There will always be a demand for it,” so she knew she would at least keep that until she found something different and hopefully better. The advice that we received from these lunches was invaluable and honestly was one of the best things I took from the whole experience.
Speaking to my second paper where I knew where I would be working for the summer, I was able to more accurately pinpoint specific things I would do during the internship and things I wanted to learn. It is hard to know exactly the work that will need doing for the next two months, so I was given a prediction and rough outline of some of the things I would be doing throughout the summer, but a lot of it I was told would be up in the air and would be assigned as it came. Is it was, one of my bigger tasks I was told I was going to focus on was the roll out of the new app. However, I hardly spent any time at all with it because of the timing of my internship and where it was in the updating process. More of my time was spent with graphic design creating ad campaign images such as social media posts, web banners, post cards, etc. for affiliates nationwide. A project that I had full responsibility for was finding a new vendor to service a Touch Gallery that is in over 50 affiliate offices across the globe driving foot traffic at off hours into potential clients and hopeful sales. The vendor that was currently under contract was not as technologically advanced as was needed for this type of tool, so a new one had to be found. I researched and found top potential vendors that I thought would be better than what was currently used, and organized phone calls to ask questions that were not on the website and to get more details in general on the companies. By the end, I had found one company that was better than what we have technologically and price wise and was now being evaluated by my higher-ups. Just as I thought I would, I used Excel a lot and developed a marketing campaign scorecard that will now be used to track the campaign’s KPIs for the next two years. Excel became an organization tool more than anything where everything from feedback to click data was stored.
Bringing my leadership background into my everyday tasks and observances was very interesting in that I understood peoples’ relationships much quicker and see easier who in the office was a more effective leader. There is no perfect leader and no quality that every leader has except for maybe one: to be able to understand those that they work with. It is so important to be able to understand other people and how they work best in order to help everyone in the office reach their maximum potential. Taking into account theories talked about in Theories and Models, I clearly saw LMX at work in my office where my boss developed personal and individual relationships with those in the office she saw respond to her attempts, and not as close with those who seemed to keep their personal and work lives more separate. There were men in the office in positions of leadership who fit the description of Great Man where they are tall and dominant, but there are also just as many women in similar positions who come in to work wearing jeans and sandals but are able to get the same result. Knowing this, I altered the way I approached each respective person above me, whether I change the way I do my work or how I present it to them, based on how they seem to be most responsive. Some liked an email with no fluff or words, just the hard copy of the work I had done. Others liked it when I came to their office after I had completed something and talk through how I had gone about completing at and what my next steps are. Personally, I liked the latter most of the time simply because I usually did not know what my next steps were and being able to talk about it right then and there saved a lot of time in the end.
My Jepson classes prepared me for this internship in many ways that other schools’ classes such as business and history couldn’t. I was able to think on my feet in meetings when my opinion was suddenly asked for, and I was able to work with various teams who had been working together for a long time previous to my arrival. Similar to how most Jepson classes are structured, much of my days were filled with meetings where topics are presented, discussed and debated until a conclusion was reached or something was accomplished. If I had not become so accustomed to voicing my opinion and articulating my reasoning behind it, I would not have been able to contribute as much to these meetings. During my presentation and networking events I used all that I had learned at Jepson events such as EDGE and made sure to always make eye contact and follow up after meeting someone on LinkedIn or over email.
A major takeaway I got from studying those with positions above me was realizing what type of leader I work best with and how important that is. Now when I am interviewing for potential jobs post-graduation, I will take that into account where previously I would have taken any job offered to me. Because of what I learned over the course of the internship, I am more confident going into the job search and know more of what I want to do, although I have learned never to nix any industry before I try it.