Over the course of my internship, I had the opportunity to learn skills I hoped to learn and did not expect to learn. The four primary skills and aspects I learned were what an account executive’s day looks like, the importance of willingness to learn, how to navigate conflicts with coworkers, and writing formal business proposals.
In my personal plan paper, I expressed that I hoped to learn what an account executive day looks like. Throughout my internship, I was able to experience what an account manager does on a day-to-day basis. First, there is an aspect of the intern program where each of the departments present to the interns about their department and what they do at Tierney. Referred to as “lunch and learns,” these sessions allowed me to gain a better understanding of what all departments did, not just account management. That being said, the account management lunch and learn gave me a more concrete idea of what an account manager does, what their role is in relation to the other departments, and what is expected of them. Basically, account managers help facilitate the relationship between the client and Tierney. They also act as a facilitator and organizer for the rest of the departments working for a client. More specifically, account managers may be tasked with proofing copies before they are sent to the client and organizing and leading client status meetings. I had the opportunity to proof and submit multiple projects for various clients throughout the summer. I also sat in on weekly client meetings, which helped me understand how an account manager follows projects for their clients on a weekly basis. An account manager’s day is never the same and I was able to experience that first-hand.
While I did not mention the importance of willingness to learn in my previous papers, I mentioned how I hoped that the skills I learned through various leadership positions and experiences would help me navigate working in an agency. Especially at Tierney, supervisors and other coworkers are excited and willing to help interns learn any skills they need. For example, my supervisor did not expect me to know how to create a competitive audit for a client, but she walked me through the process, and I was quickly able to understand what to do. The interns who always asked for work or asked for questions were highly regarded amongst the supervisors and learned a wide range of skills they did not necessarily learn in the classroom. While certain departments such as the creative department may require interns to have more experience and ability, experience was not necessary to succeed at the internship. On the contrary, curiosity, willingness to learn new skills, and ability to learn from mistakes helped me succeed as an intern.
The next skill I hoped to develop that I mentioned in my previous papers was the ability to navigate conflict with coworkers. Interestingly, I had the perfect opportunity to practice this skill with my internship project. As I mentioned before, the interns are split up into three groups who compete for the business of a new client at the end of the summer. My team was comprised of a president elected by the team as well as five other members including myself. We elected our president because he had been at the agency as an intern in the spring and returned for the summer. At the beginning, our team did not have any notable issues with disagreement and conflict. But, as the project became more stressful, our team president became extremely difficult to work with and disrespectful of other member’s ideas. Specifically, we were in a meeting and were going over feedback from one of our mentors, who was a creative director at Tierney. One of our members was proposing a new idea and the president immediately dismissed their idea very impolitely. The mood in the room became exceedingly awkward but it was clear that the president was not being respectful of all the members. While it made me uncomfortable, I asked if we could talk through the member’s idea as a team and come to a conclusion together. I expressed to the president that I understood we were in a time crunch, but we had worked so hard thus far and we want to ensure we are exploring all possible options. He appeared more receptive to my comment after calming down, but his attitude did not necessarily improve the rest of the time we worked on the project. While I still need to work on my ability to be straightforward in times of conflict, I was glad to have the opportunity to practice.
Another skill I wanted to learn that I discussed in my learning contract was the ability to write formal proposals and business documents. Tierney prides itself on giving their interns real work to complete for clients. Therefore, I’ve had various opportunities to submit work for clients.Thus far, I have primarily worked on two clients, Independence Blue Cross, and Takeda. I have been working on a deck for a competitive audit for IBC that will be presented right before I leave for school. Along with the deck for the audit, I have been tasked with creating the V.O. for the presentation based on my research.For Takeda, I helped with the relaunch of a website for resources about the abuse of stimulants for studying. With this project, I had to create workorders for our creative team, submit documents to the client for review, and summarize any changes that need to be made.Finally, for our intern project, I took on an extremely organizational role and made sure our team has stayed on schedule. I also primarily created the deck, constructed our strategy, and created merchandise.
There were two primary ways my leadership courses helped me understand and work at Tierney this summer. First, I recognized the prevalence of transformational leadership and how that affects employees. Second, I had the opportunity to evaluate and critique group dynamics, especially within my intern project group.
While I experienced transformational leadership first-hand with my supervisor, I also recognized that it was a common theme across the company. A basic definition of transformational leadership outlines four components of the leadership style: intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence. Specifically, I recognized that my supervisor and other upper-management employees practiced individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation.
My supervisor exhibited transformational leadership through intellectual stimulation when she put me on a project for one of her clients. As I mentioned previously, I worked on a competitive analysis for a healthcare company based in Philadelphia, which required me to compile creatives, strategies, and summaries of campaigns for competitive healthcare companies in the area. Every quarter, Tierney presents this client with their competitors’ campaign overviews in a PowerPoint. My supervisor gave me the previous quarter’s presentation, but she encouraged me to change around the format, play with the visual display, and add in anything that might be missing while updating the new competitors’ campaigns. Again, her encouragement is a direct example of intellectual stimulation and fostered an environment of creativity and exploration. The observation of transformational leadership helped me better understand what is valuable to the company in an employee and how they hope their employees work with one another. By focusing closely on building relationships with subordinates, supervisors and directors create an environment of open-communication, creativity, and collaboration.
Studying leadership also allowed me to have a unique perspective on group dynamics while working in a group both with fellow interns and with other employees. In various leadership courses, I have learned the best way to manage groups, navigate difficult situations, and analyze the psychology behind human’s behaviors.
Having this background from Jepson, I was able to apply it to my role in my intern group project. At the beginning of the summer, our team had a lot of ideas that we wanted to share with each other, but it was difficult to focus ourselves and narrow which direction we wanted to go. I proposed that we hold a brainstorm session where we would use post-it notes and place them on the wall. We then organized the notes based on priority of what we wanted to accomplish, what most addressed what the client wanted, and what could potentially be left in the appendix of the presentation. This allowed us to create a clear direction for our project while allowing everyone to share their opinions and ideas. From my leadership courses, I learned that it is especially important to ensure that all members are given their opportunity to share their opinions while maintaining organization, so the meeting is not unproductive.
Additionally, courses at Jepson such as Leadership 102 helped me understand different intern’s and employee’s working styles. By establishing people’s working styles, it was easier for me to communicate with them effectively and apply different leadership styles based on each person. Therefore, it was easier for me to navigate my role in a group setting and facilitate a more productive group.
Throughout my summer at Tierney, I had the opportunity to learn and develop various skills that I hoped I would be able to practice. Additionally, studying leadership gave me an advantage in navigating my group for my internship project and ensuring we were functioning as best we could. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to expand on the skills I learned and continue to apply leadership throughout my career.