A Summer to Remember: Interning During a Pandemic

Culture

A Summer to Remember: Interning During a Pandemic

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The year 2020 is what you might call … unique, to say the least. For John, Henry and myself—the InterWorks interns—many areas of our lives quickly changed in order to adapt to the current world we live in. Business is no different; it is constantly changing, as we saw firsthand during our summer with InterWorks.

Ben Calder, BI Intern

It is no secret that InterWorks operates uniquely as it relates to other consultancies, not only from an operational perspective but—more importantly—from a people perspective.

One of the first Tableau projects I worked on was an internal report of InterWorks and its presence around the globe (you can check out the dashboard at the bottom of this post). The big takeaway from that project came when I showed the average tenure of an employee. It didn’t seem like any coincidence that our folks stick around for a while. From the top down, InterWorks cares about the growth and development of their people. For some individuals, that might look like stepping into a new area of the business, and for others, it might involve going to a different business altogether—and both are perfectly okay. Everyone here is given the opportunity to pursue work that excites them from day one.

In your work here, whether it’s client work, a technical skill or tool you want to improve on, you get to be the pilot. In other words: you identify the things that interest you and then receive the resources to pursue them. With that power comes responsibility, but it is really affirming to see actionable proof that your company cares about your interests and professional goals. That fact really allowed me to feel empowered and recognize the purpose in what I worked on.

What I Learned

My biggest takeaways from this summer came from the people I interacted with. Working in Tableau can require some teeth-pulling moments in trying to figure out the nuances of the tool. In the work-from-home climate we find ourselves in, I found that interacting with others was super important, whether it was bugging someone to help me with a Tableau problem, joining a virtual company-wide water-cooler chat or just sprinkling in a few minutes at the start of a meeting to have some non-work-related conversation.

At the end of the day, consulting is delivering solutions to people, who happen to represent organizations. Businesses are increasingly defined by what customers tell other customers, not what the business tells the customer. In short: I learned that if people enjoy working with you and trust you to do your job, the rest usually falls in place.

At the end of the day, consulting is delivering solutions to people, who happen to represent organizations. Businesses are increasingly defined by what customers tell other customers, not what the business tells the customer. In short: I learned that if people enjoy working with you and trust you to do your job, the rest usually falls in place.

John Moss, Marketing Analytics Intern

In a year of tumult and turmoil, it might be expected to hear that our internship was different, or that Henry, Ben and I were siloed off in our kitchens while we ran the Zoom gauntlet, maybe feeling isolated, disempowered and with little to do. Fortunately for us, though, that was not the case.

Yes, our summer was unorthodox, but thanks to some fantastic people (particularly Kelsey Lee, our intern coordinator), we were able to take on challenges just like any other summer and have a lot of fun doing it.

Above: Henry, Ben, Kelsey and me on one of our regular Zoom calls

One thing that stood out to me this summer is that even though our internship may not have been able to provide the typical experience, the challenges and lessons of navigating an organization (and the newly found Zoom world) were most certainly still there. In my opinion, this is what sets InterWorks apart from many other companies that I see work with students. The horror stories of offers being rescinded, and internships being pushed online never came up for us. We were continually pushed and rewarded, just like any other summer. While we developed different skills, the things we learned this summer will carry us into our futures better equipped and not feeling like we missed the “college internship” mile marker.

What I Learned

Going into this summer, I thought that most of the challenges I would face would be technical problems. I thought learning Tableau, HTML and Pardot would be the hurdles I would have to overcome to have a successful internship. That all quickly changed when we got into the thick of the internship. Suddenly, I was learning these things faster than I thought I would, and it became clear that what mattered more was whether or not I was willing to ask for help.

In the classroom, it’s easy to want to take things on by yourself and put your head down to learn the course content or do projects. Working in a team this summer with people who have tons of experience opened my eyes to just how essential teamwork is and how much you can learn from the people around you.

If I could sum this up in one sentence, it would be this: This summer, I learned that people will teach if you’re willing to learn. This may not seem like a groundbreaking discovery, but at InterWorks, we pride ourselves on always being curious, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to have a piece of that instilled in me.

If I could sum this up in one sentence, it would be this: This summer, I learned that people will teach if you’re willing to learn.

Henry Rohlfing, IT Intern

Working at InterWorks has taught me a multitude of lessons, and not just the ones you get to utilize when you are sitting in front of a glaring terminal screen plugging away at the command line. While technical lessons are certainly important in this line of work, as I began at InterWorks, I quickly realized that in the end,  it wasn’t about what I knew, how much I knew or how I knew it. Coming out of vocational school here in Oklahoma, I placed a lot of value in my technical knowledge, and if there is one thing I learned at InterWorks, it’s that this is not the dealbreaker.

Previously, I hadn’t had much on-the-job IT experience, so much of my skillset lay in self-taught lab exercises and curriculum covered in vocational school. As I began working within the InterWorks environment, I learned that knowing the technology is one thing, but being able to take a step back and identify the pieces in play, identify the issue and ultimately recognize the end goal is what truly matters in this line of work. The technical skills can be learned and pieced together as you go. When you are combing through an event log, smashing away at the CLI or banging your head against the table trying to figure out an issue, it’s important to dissociate yourself and take a logical approach to the issue:

  • What have you done?
  • What is working?
  • What is not working?
  • Where do these pieces interconnect?

Thinking about this in the context of InterWorks is what truly sets this job apart to me. As a college student working in a consultancy with experts in varying fields can be intimidating, exciting and a barrage of other emotions all at once. Through this summer internship and the last, not once has there been an instance where I have felt discounted or my opinion unvalued. And really, my opinion is encouraged and desired at InterWorks! This work environment is not only exciting to me, but it also allows me to get hands-on with a variety of systems, apply past knowledge to this process and continue building in this perpetual cycle of learning. Maybe my enthusiasm has something to do with my young age, but with everything being so fresh and new, I can’t help but get excited over some sweet tech when you have such amazing people to work on it with it!

What I Learned

One of my biggest takeaways from this past summer would be to not underestimate your past knowledge but to learn how to store it and retrieve it in various use cases. With systems, the issue can only ever be so complex. There are components to a system, and components interact with one another, but why does it become so hard to remember this when tasked with a big issue?

At one point, I found myself beginning to lose focus on the intermediate components when putting too much focus on the problem as a whole. I had hit my limit. I can’t remember everything, and I needed to accept that. Creating a documentation system for myself has helped me organize gained knowledge, keep me up to speed and allow easy retrieval of past knowledge when I do need it. And with IT, you’ll always need it again—it’s just how the game goes!

Creating a documentation system for myself has helped me organize gained knowledge, keep me up to speed and allow easy retrieval of past knowledge when I do need it. And with IT, you’ll always need it again—it’s just how the game goes!

Wrapping up Summer 2020

In the year 2020, where there are many things we may want to forget, this summer is certainly something to remember. Everything we were able to work on played a role in how and why InterWorks is what it is—the best people-focused consultancy out there. We were incredibly fortunate to work alongside such great people all around the world. Keep an eye out for more content from the interns; we aren’t going anywhere just yet.

More About the Author

Ben Calder

BI Intern
A Summer to Remember: Interning During a Pandemic The year 2020 is what you might call … unique, to say the least. For John, Henry and myself—the InterWorks interns—many areas of our ...
The Sweet Life of an InterWorks Intern It’s internship season, and with that usually comes a conversation or two between friends about the company you work for and what they ...

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