While working at Charter, I learned more than I ever could have imagined. I learned technical things about the industry, about business in general, as well as what I like and how I want to approach my future career once I graduate, and in what industry. Before starting my internship, I just thought Marketing meant generic marketing: creating products to be used to sell said product to consumers. It was only a few weeks in that I realized there are two very different sectors, corporate marketing, and agency marketing. Corporate marketing basically just decides what it is that they want for the creative they plan on sending out, while agency marketing actually creates this and sends it back. My internship was corporate marketing, specifically on the retention team. I would call this the not glamorous part of Marketing seeing as how we were looking to reduce churn by personalizing emails and welcome materials to customers. My group was not in charge of producing the creative but rather connecting different departments to allow these marketing materials to be distributed. Charter goes through one of various agencies to create their marketing products. Through this experience, I quickly realized that I was torn by what I wanted to do after college, would I want to work for an agency, a notoriously young atmosphere? Or would I want to go right into the corporate world, a seemingly less exciting version of an agency? Unfortunately, this is something I still haven’t figured out entirely, and I’m hoping to learn more about both sides of the marketing spectrum over the next year in my business classes, hopefully allowing me to decide which is the correct job for me.
One of the first things that I desired to gain from this experience was a larger network of people that I can use to my advantage while in the real world. This was met early on, and I continued to do so throughout the course of my internship. I worked on the Marketing Communications team and was able to work closely with 30 members of this team. I was able to work with other departments as well such as finance, enterprise, metrics, and creative marketing. My manager also set up meeting with people in all areas of marketing throughout the company and I so that I could have the chance to understand different specialties within Charter. Throughout my summer, I increased my network by hundreds of people, including men and women by age, who I got to work with closely in group settings. Through meeting these people and creating relationships with many of them, I was also able to ask for recommendations from some of them before the end of the summer. Recommendations was another thing that I was hoping to gain out of this internship, seeing as how they will be needed extensively while I apply to jobs after college. Getting these recommendations, however was very easy after maintaining strong relationships with my mentor and two managers throughout the summer, they were both happy to write me letters that I will be able to use in the future.
Another thing that I wanted to gain from this internship experience was to develop my professional communication skills. Throughout the summer, my communications skills deepened dramatically. At first, I found it nerve-racking to send an email, not knowing exactly how it should be written, and I found myself re-reading the email 10 times before finally sending it. By the end of the summer, I felt not only more confident in my ability to write in an email or a skype message or a letter to someone in the company, but also in myself. At Charter, especially in the Marketing department, they are all communicating constantly because they work with so many different departments and sectors of Marketing. This took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to message people and send emails, as one of my ongoing jobs for the summer was to send weekly updates from meetings to everyone who attended. I am so grateful that this was something I was forced to do because it allowed me to gain confidence and knowledge on how to prepare these emails, about which I learned so much.
At the beginning of the summer, I wrote about how I wanted to learn the best way to take criticism from somebody, especially in a work environment. I learned this quickly while at Charter. While working on summer long projects, I was not allowed to be stubborn when it came to suggestions that were given to me when I would present a draft of my final presentation. I learned almost immediately that in a corporate setting, what your boss says almost always goes. When my boss or someone else on the team had suggestions for me to take into account while working on my project, I listened and immediately would begin working on their ideas, because they knew best. I think the environment that I was in allowed me to do this and learn to take constructive criticism and use it to improve what I am working on.
Throughout the course of the summer, I recognized many of the things I had learned about in Theories and Models playing out in real time. The most prominent for me was the leader follower relationship that we talked about extensively in professor Goethals class. We learned that essentially, whatever the follower gives to the leader, they receive something back and vice versa. We learned that in these situation followers will receive, vision and direction, protection and security, achievement and effectiveness, inclusion and belonginess and pride and self respect. The leaders will receive focus and self direction, gratitude and loyalty, commitment and effort, cooperation and sacrifice and respect and obedience. I saw all of these exchanges play out in real time, especially through my mentor Sherry as well as the head of Marketing communications, Sharon. Sharon is a general vice president, meaning she is only a few steps down from the executive team at the company, however she is known for consistently working closely with those who may be much lower than her on the hierarchy of the business. She took the time to sit down and the two other marketing interns and I and spend 30 minutes of her already packed day to talk about the company and our futures. I considered this as her giving us inclusion and belongingness, as she took the time to make sure we were having great experiences and learning as well as enjoying the position. Because of this, I knew that I desperately wanted to impress her the rest of the summer with the work that I did and I put more effort into my work, knowing that it could potentially be shown to her. Sherry worked hard to ensure my protection and security while I was at Charter. Not only did she take the time to introduce me to each and every member of the team my first day to make me feel comfortable, but she was constantly asking how I was feeling and if anything was becoming too difficult for me. I was so grateful for this throughout the entire summer. I felt a special loyalty and relationship with sherry because she made me feel as though I was important to the team and because of that, I had so much more respect for her. She could have brushed me off and given me horrible jobs to do, and I would have done them all because I’m an intern and just desperate for experience. She didn’t though, she gave me challenging and exciting work that could actually help the team to achieving their goals, and made sure that I felt okay with the work the whole time. It was a really great balance.
Another theory that I found to be extremely evident was the idea of charismatic leaders gaining a larger and more loyal following. In professor Goethals class we discussed that it is part of the human condition that it is difficult to resist charisma in a leader especially. When we find a leader with this charismatic personality, we are attracted to their way of leadership more, and we are more likely to follow their directions. I found this through my mentor Sherry. She is outgoing, personable, smart, emotionally intelligent, and deeply aware of her surroundings and how to interact with those that work for her. Because of this, I wanted to learn more from her and understand her business path and the strategies that she uses every day to make decisions and interact with people who work for her. Because she was so charismatic, I think that people were more likely to listen and her criticism and follow her with more loyalty.
Throughout the course of this summer, I learned so much about business, the corporate environment, as well as leadership in this atmosphere. I was able to see the theories and models that I have learned about while in Jepson, and see them play out in real time in a real office setting. I feel very grateful to have had this opportunity and to have learned as much as I did.