Final Reflection: A Summer of Fulfilled Goals

As I read back through my Personal Contribution paper, it is satisfying to reflect on how many goals I was able to not only reach but truly fulfill this summer through my internship. Just as I had gotten a sense before the internship of truly how much the company invests in its interns, I was able to see that investment play out through all 10 weeks of my experience at the company.  Time and time again, there were separate workshops, training sessions, and perks set aside just for interns.  Given that my role as an intern essentially matched the role of a full-time associate at the company, I was given real hands-on responsibility and autonomy throughout my time that really allowed me to challenge myself and grow immensely.

The first goal I set in my Personal Contribution paper was to get a “hands-on introduction to professional development.”  Throughout my time at AlphaSights, I was able to get a much better understanding of the business world, especially with an in-depth focus on Private Equity.  From conversing with C-level executives on almost a daily basis about industry trends and business models, I gained an insurmountable level of exposure to the business world from a variety of insiders’ perspectives.  Moreover, I was exposed to the bustling energy of Madison Avenue and experience a young, vibrant office culture.

Another goal I set was in regards to bettering my communication skills.  Given the nature of the job and my daily work, communication is something I was able to work on extensively.  Although I was praised from my manager specifically about my communication skills, I was able to improve them even more throughout my time at the firm.  Not only did I have a significant amount of practice enhancing my communication over the phone, I was able to work extensively on my email-writing skills and etiquette from different angles–anywhere from an initial outreach email message to a potential advisor to a project to a formal update to a client in regards to progress on a given project.  Given that the nature of conversations with potential advisors on the phone are “screening” or “vetting” calls, there is a culture of questioning that is maintained at AlphaSights.  Questioning a person on their career experience and specific knowledge in regards to a certain industry topic can be a bit challenging at times, as it may sound insulting and threaten a person’s ego.  Throughout the summer, I was able to pick up on subtle cues from the person on the other end and slightly adjust my tone and wording in order to have the conversation run as smoothly as possible, all while getting the appropriate information and data from the advisor to pass along to the client.  Moreover, vetting conversations with advisors who had not worked with AlphaSights before required negotiating compensation, which was another challenging aspect of communication that I learned to master.

Lastly, I hoped to better my research and organizational skills throughout the duration of my internship.  Unlike communication, these skills in particular were focus areas for me going into the summer, given that organization was definitely a weaker area for me–in fact, I shared this with my trainer in my first one-on-one meeting.  Because I was able to set the intention of working on my organizational skills from the start, my trainer and I created an action plan as to how I would better my organization skills.  The plan covered many aspects–anywhere from how to organize my screens in order to maximize efficiency, to how to track my priorities and completed tasks in the best way possible.  As the summer went on, I found myself being able to navigate my priorities much more efficiently and easily than I had at the beginning of the summer.  I was exposed to a variety of research tools to add to my portfolio, and perhaps one of my biggest growth areas throughout the summer was being able to operate efficiently between multiple projects throughout a single day using the correct resources.  This progress was shown tangibly when I was able to exceed and eventually double my hurdle for my credits earned per month.

Given the structure of a company like AlphaSights, I was able to provide in detail my goals for the summer through my learning contract.  AlphaSights has the resources (monetary and otherwise) and in part dedicates a lot of this investment to its interns, who they hope will return to be full-time associates.  Given my first week on the desk, a week of AlphaCamp under my belt, and a dedicated mentor ready and willing to help, I had a clear vision for what the summer would look like.  As I read back on my learning contract, it reinforces how I was able to map out my action plans and goals throughout the summer given the resources at my disposal.  This is quite a contrast from my Personal Plan paper, which outlined broad, abstract goals I had highlighted before I had a real taste for what my office environment would look like.  The transformation of my career perceptions and goals between these two papers is especially interesting to me; just a few days in a corporate environment can really transform a vision of professional life into a reality.

As I reflect on the ways in which I approached my work this summer, critical thinking is a class that comes to mind in particular.  Although I didn’t spend my summer analyzing arguments, my day to day work was enhanced when I was able to bring in concepts I had learned from critical thinking.  A large part of understanding client perspective, a key to success in any client-facing role, came from realizing that not all vital information is explicit.  A client may mention that they would like to speak with X,Y, or Z, but in reality, given their investment situation they should be seeking something else.  Approaching this exchange in a smart way is what matters most–and definitely utilizes many of the five skills of the Dominant Personality Theory I addressed in an earlier reflection.  Being able to upsell new angles to a client that they hadn’t previously realized themselves has to be done in the correct way, as to not insult the client’s intelligence or visibility. Properly proposing an alternate solution requires a certain sequence of logical thinking that has its foundation in proper critical thinking.   As mentioned in previous reflections, aspects of Theories in Models definitely helped me to understand and appreciate aspects of my internship, as well as understanding when to stop and question certain assumptions when selecting potential advisors for a project (ILT reflection).

I think that Implicit Leadership Theories specifically from the Theories and Models class also has a lot of implications for a company like AlphaSigths, who is constantly recruiting new employees giving the rate of its current growth.  Although there are certain prototypes of people that the company targets, AlphaSights is looking to expand its target base and search for new kinds of faces, although its established presence in certain target schools leads to a lot of recruits from similar pools and even social groups. Given the nature of the work at AlphaSights and the rate of growth at the company, it is easiest to target new employees where extended networks have already been established, whereas newer efforts to extend beyond these networks may be more of a challenge.  It would be interesting to see what the composition of  the company looks like in a year, especially in regards to the dominant demographics and personalities of its employees.

In regards to concepts around gender and leadership, I remember learning about the glass ceiling in my Leadership and the Social Sciences class freshman year.  In contrast to traditional leadership, it was refreshing to see such a strong female presence at AlphaSights, as many company leaders are female and the majority of the company itself is female. As the company continues to evolve at a rapid rate, I hope that this female presence also continues to prosper.  I think that there is a focus for newer companies to establish more females in leadership–hopefully this continues.

Ultimately, I am extremely grateful to have had such a fruitful experience this summer.  Although my internship definitely had its challenges and obstacles, it was huge learning experience for me both professionally and personally.  I was fortunate enough to receive an offer to return to the company full-time–although I am still considering the path that my career will take, I can certainly say that AlphaSights was a great start.

This experience, in combination with the foundations and ideas I was able to bring from my Jepson education, make me confident about my future career prospects and excited about what new potential opportunities will emerge.  Being intentional about my learnings and reflections each week this summer has allowed me to grow even more.  As I continue to reflect on this summer’s experience this fall, I have no doubt that I will continue to gain new insights into not only my internship experience, but into my overall career visions and goals as well.

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