There were many things I had hoped to accomplish throughout my internship experience, and I am glad to say that I had attained most of what I had hoped for. I had hoped to improve my professional communication skills, and I was able to do this by speaking to clients on a daily basis. I had hoped to interact with representatives for larger firms, as I had not previously done so, but instead I was responsible for the accounts of small to medium-sized businesses like I was during my internship at Colonial Hardware in years past. This ended up being more beneficial to me as the smaller companies required a more personable assessment and/or conversation because the, for example, $700 lumper fee for Eli’s Cheesecakes is a larger burden than it is for Walmart and therefor both aren’t handled the same way. This “burden” had exposed me to additional aspects of the company that I otherwise would not have had any exposure in. In other words, the problems that were consistent with the payments for smaller companies enabled me to learn more about how Preferred Freezer Service operates because I had to investigate the account discrepancies, and therefore, I had to fully understand each step in the process from getting the load from point A to its destination at point B.
This brings me to another thing I had hoped to learn over the course of my internship: understanding how the company operates. Before starting my internship I had hoped to learn how companies, especially ones as big as Preferred Freezer Services, can operate, communicate and be efficient at such a large-scale. PFS Logistics is primarily tasked with the operations relating to the pick-up/drop-off, transportation, lumper and storage of the products that the company is responsible for. I learned that communication and record keeping is everything when it comes down to being organized, running smoothly, and especially when it comes to resolving problems. This is how the company works: the sales team confirms the order details with the client and the load is shipped via railways/waterways, our driver picks up the load from the port/railyard and delivers it in a temperature-controlled vehicle to the appropriate cold-storage warehouse, the truck is unloaded and the load is stored in the warehouse until the day comes where it is picked up again, loaded onto another temperature-controlled vehicle and then delivered to and unloaded at its destination. This is essentially the SparkNotes version of what the Logistics department is responsible for knowing when problems arise with the payment of outstanding invoices.
One thing I hoped to gain, but unfortunately did not, was a broader knowledge and experience in different departments in the company. My time at Preferred Freezer Services, as previously mentioned, was overwhelmed with the need to close some outstanding account balances. I was responsible for a fairly large and diverse range of customers and my entire six-week internship was comprised of contacting these companies, requesting payment status for the outstanding invoices, and then following-up with them if no payment was made. I learned the most when there were problems with the payments because it forced me to dive deeper and find solutions for the customer. However, when things ran smoothly and they advised a payment for the invoice, then that was it, my job was done. I had expected to spend time in sales and in other aspects of Logistics, but since there was an urgent need for the completion of the work I was responsible for, I did not get that opportunity. Although I had learned a lot in my role, I was hoping to better understand what career path I would like to pursue.
My leadership studies courses offered me insight on how top executives influence the organizational culture based off of the strengths of the company’s subordinates. If the employees weren’t as hard-working, responsible and task-oriented, then I would not expect to see the same laissez-faire management style that currently takes place. If the managing directors were always on top of the employees, it would prove to be a waste of time and effort for both parties involved because the employees don’t need that constant supervision/direction, and the managing directors would be taking time out of their day to micromanage tasks that are already being taken care of. Knowing this through my leadership courses helped me understand early on that I will not be supervised all the time, and that the work I was given responsibility for, was my responsibility alone. There were occasional progress meetings in which we went over questions on both ends, but for the vast majority of my internship experience I was left to do the work I was taught to do, and I was trusted to get it done in a timely matter.
I also noticed how the tangible organizational structure of Preferred Freezer Services influenced team chemistry and facilitates communication among the departments. In the corporate office, which was designed by the CEO John Gallagher, the departments are strategically separated and placed in efficient spaces in the building. For example, the Logistics department is further away from Marketing than it is to Sales, because sales is directly related to the operations of logistics when marketing is not. Also, the IT department is centrally located because every department is reliant on the smooth running of the computers and phones that enable the business to operate. It is interesting to also note that since Logistics is on the other side of the building from most of the other departments, that some employees don’t even know who works over there. The effect of this is a heightened sense of group unity over a sense of company unity. To better illustrate this, employees in Logistics refer to the company as Preferred Freezer Logistics, when no other department has such a distinction.
Although my role at Preferred Freezer Services limited my exposure to other departments in the company, I was still able to gain a significant amount of knowledge in the macro operations of their Logistics department. My experience in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies enabled me to view the interactions, tasks, and organizational culture with an intricate lens; allowing me to dive deeper into understanding how companies can operate at their maximum efficiency and what influences such improvement.