Overstepping Boundaries and Missed Messages

To be completely honest, I have waited to save this prompt up until this point in my internship because at almost 10 weeks in, there have not been problems that I have run into regarding leadership or leadership structure while working at Zeno group. As I collected my notes throughout the week to help organize my ideas for this post, it was almost like someone somewhere sensed that I needed something to write about. 

Going into last week I was very excited about the fact that I would have an abundance of work to tackle – this is not to say that I don’t have a lot of work, but the responsibilities of my co-worker who was on her vacation this week were going to fall on me. While the prospect of even more to do at this point in the summer may have come to the chagrin of many other interns, I was really excited because it was my opportunity to see what some of the daily responsibilities of an AAE consist of, as this would be the position I would hold if I returned here or another Public Relations group following graduation. I was looking forward to showing the company that I was capable of handing my existing tasks as well as some that were out of my comfort zone. 

While I am happy to share that I did not fail miserably when taking on new responsibilities, I found myself feeling more lost and asking more questions than I had at any point the whole summer. While my tasks were listed out for me before my co-worker left, the list was extremely basic and offered me no assistance whatsoever. When I asked the woman on my team who was still in the office a question about my task, she often responded with “oh great question, I have no clue how Sam does this, maybe just play around a bit”, or something along those lines. This made me realize that my team knew what deliverables everyone was responsible for, but no one knew what went into completing them. I think more open communication about what it actually takes to create each deliverable would be something that could improve teamwork and collaboration within each team here. Understanding what goes into the completion and delivery of one of our assessments could help foster compassion towards one another since there would be a sense of understanding about what each of us spend our day actually doing.

In conjunction with the new responsibilities I had for the week, I was also a victim of an abuse of power from someone above me with a formal leadership position. The internship program is run by an account executive in the Consumer practice – and let me tell you, consumer public relations is a completely beast than any other practice. I had been warned by my manager that the consumer team often took advantage of interns and made them run errands and do tasks that were basically just too annoying or time consuming for a full-time employee to do. I had yet to be directly impacted by this until this week – the same week I was completely swamped with work. My manager alerted me that the head of the internship program had reached out and asked if I had any time to lend them to clean out the consumer team storage closet – a job that consisted of the interns opening old cans of soda and dumping it down the sink – to which my manager told me no. He forwarded me this email so I was in the loop, yet 5 minutes later I received an email stating that my manager had told her I had time and that I must sign up for a two hour shift. While in the end, I did get out of the glorious intern activity of dumping old sodas down a sink, I felt taken advantage of. If my manager and I didn’t have such a clear line of communication, I would have had no reason to doubt the email and would have spent the time doing the consumer team’s job that they just didn’t feel like doing themselves. My suggestion to combating this issue in the future would be to keep everyone in the loop- when my manager responded to the initial email, by CCing me, it would have eliminated the opportunity for the consumer manager to go over my managers head and ask me to work anyway.