Alyssa J Freitas

July 26, 2016

IBM Internship Week 8

Check out training, week 1, week 2, week 3week 4, week 5week 6, and week 7!

(See that notebook in the picture? It’s been my lifeline since my first day of training. I’ve filled it with a million thoughts and to-do lists and words of wisdom from IBMers I’ve met, so I thought it deserved to be featured.)

“Once an organization loses its spirit of pioneering and rests on its early work, its progress stops.” Thomas J. Watson
IBM Internship Week 8


While I have very little early work compared to IBM (the company is 105 years old), this statement from good old Watson still resonates. It can be all too easy to point to early accomplishments and say to yourself, “There. I’ve proven that I am valuable so now I can rest a bit more easily.” This mentality, however, will halt all forward motion and prevent growth. And we certainly cannot have that. To avoid that fate, I spent this week following up on projects, lining up more meetings and shadowing opportunities, and making the most of the end of the internship (and don’t think I forgot to do some prospecting too. Would it be a complete Alyssa internship post without some mention of it?).
Like I mentioned last week, I got to go to my first client meeting at a company I have admired for many years. As it turns out, I presented an intern project with two of my fellow interns about this very company. We were tasked with comparing the in person and online experience of two brands and asked to present our findings and recommendations. Having the opportunity to get an inside look at one of the companies before making my presentation was valuable and certainly made the intern project feel much more “real world.”

A little bit of a back story before I get into this next bit. One of my partners on the branding project, Jessica Napolitano, told me last week that she earned a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Conference, which is a celebration of women in computing, where Ginni Rometty will be the keynote speaker. Jess decided to email our CEO Ginni to tell her how excited she was to hear her speak and to be attending the conference. On Monday morning I found a forwarded message in my inbox from Jess showing me that Ginni replied to her!

“Oh my goodness, Ginni responded to you, this is so fantastic!” I said to Jess, without pausing to take a breath.

“You’re even more excited than I am,” Jess said to me with a laugh.

Although it’s true that I am generally enthusiastic at even the slightest provocation, this is a big deal and I have been telling everyone that I know the intern that Ginni spoke to (…or emailed to…details, details).

As you can tell, Monday started off on a high note and the rest of the week continued to deliver. The following day there was a round-table session for the interns with Beth Smith, the General Manager of Watson technology. I’ve taken a particular interest in Watson (and who hasn’t) so it was great to have a discussion with Beth. At the end of the session I was able to spend some time talking with her about how cognitive computing will impact creative fields. I was interested to learn what her thoughts were on the future capability of Watson to do things like write a novel or paint a picture, and the acceptance that we would have of this work as “art.” She shared that she believes in our lifetime we will see Watson gaining the ability to engage in such activities, but it will be up to us to determine if we find that to be the best use of the technology. I wonder if one day you will prefer to read blog posts written by Watson, but never fear, until then I will keep producing content for your reading pleasure.

My manager is sadly away this week on vacation (sad for me, that is. I’m sure he’s having a lovely and much deserved break) and had tasked me with arranging as much time onsite with clients for these remaining weeks as possible. On Wednesday I spent the day with one of the Software Client Leaders (SCL) at his client’s office and got to sit in on meetings. One of the meetings was led by a technical seller, making it a bit more difficult to follow along since I didn’t have any background in the solution that was discussed. I was able to identify the major takeaways and shared them with the SCL since he couldn’t attend. While I don’t have a tech background, I am coming to see more and more how it is beneficial to gain a level of understanding so you can be involved in such meetings.

I also participated in an all-day planning session with another SCL. While I have been working with SCLs on a variety of projects since the start of the internship, I didn’t have a full grasp on the magnitude of their responsibilities until this week. Assembled in one room were key sellers in the account and they all reported on their current and future opportunities, as well as their prospecting activities (prospecting really is a fundamental skill, as you have to preform it at every level!). I was blown away by the amount going on and the SCL’s knowledge of every deal. Getting a look behind the scenes has made me realize how much has to happen before getting in front of a client and I truly can’t wait to be a seller involved in the process.

This week also included an evening networking session where I got to meet more millennial IBMers and learn about roles outside of sales. Everything was going well until it came time for me to make my way home. I’m not going to go into all of the delays I encountered (subway delays, two missed trains, etc.), but suffice to say I made it home only to turn around a few hours later to head back into the city for another day…it’s a good thing I really like it here!

With the end of the internship looming I am more invigorated than ever and excited to fit in as many activities and projects as possible. As Watson requested, I will not lose my pioneering spirit and will continue to pursue opportunities.

-AJF

July 23, 2016

Summer Desktop Freebie

Surprise! It's not on my usual schedule to post on a Saturday, but today is an exception. With summer in full swing, we sometimes need a reminder to slow down and appreciate all of the wonderful times this season brings. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of our day to day lives, so use this as a reminder to slow down and enjoy the ride. After all, it will be fall before we know it and we will be wishing we took a few more moments to soak up summer :)


-AJF
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July 21, 2016

Auditioning For The Bachelor

I was sitting on the couch next to my mother, working on my laptop and semi-watching The Bachelorette.

“Look, they’re having auditions in New York,” my mother said. I looked up to see that indeed they were holding auditions in the city the following week.

“I wonder how far that is from where I work,” I pondered aloud as I plugged the address into my phone. Hmm, not too far at all, I discovered. I had plans to meet up with my friend Austen (who is a totally awesome style blogger you should check out. She works at Nylon magazine, lives in the city, and is a complete babe who I’ve known since we were girls. You should also totally read the story of how we reconnected after years) in the city and I figured I might as well ask her if she wanted to go. It would be far more interesting than the usual dinner.
Auditioning For The Bachelor
Luckily, she was game so we decided to meet there after work to check it out and see if we could start on our own journey for love.

At work I reapplied my lipstick before leaving, but didn’t think too much more about my appearance. When I arrived I found women with blowouts, full faces of makeup, cocktail dresses, and heels higher than I have ever even considered wearing. I joined the line around the block in front of ABC Studios and waited for Austen to arrive.

Some women were chatting, others were absorbed in their phones, while still others were reapplying their makeup. Despite this being auditions for both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, the line was overwhelmingly female. I made small talk with the women around me about who we wished the next Bachelor would be (this was hard for me to answer since I don’t follow the show too closely), what sort of work we did, and what brought us to the audition. Most people said their “friend” told them they absolutely had to give it a try. For me, I figured it would be interesting and a different sort of activity for Austen and I, plus I’m single so why not?

Austen arrived and I was happy to see that she didn’t change from work. Granted, she works in fashion so she looked like the cool chick she is, while I was in my business clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way I dress for work, it’s just that neither of us quite fit the norm.

We had fun catching up on line before we made it to the front doors. We were ushered into the cafĂ© of ABC Studios and had to go through a metal detector before being directed to the written application. 

If you thought your college applications were long, they have nothing on this! We were asked about our previous relationships, why we wanted to be on the show, our work, our family lives, our mental and physical health, before signing our lives away on the dotted line. Next, we were off to have our mug shots…oh I mean head shots…taken. Then it was time for more waiting before we got our big moment to let our personalities shine in front of the cameras (the security guards told us to just be our selves. I have a feeling they tell everyone that despite them saying that was special advice for us).

And now, please enjoy a video shot by Austen of me auditioning. Note how I am attempting to be charming, and charismatic, and engaging, and lovely, and darling, and appealing. Believe it or not, that’s a rather tall order after a full day of work and standing in line for an hour and a half (not to mention the rigorous test that was the written application).


Another important note is that I was the ONLY person there who wore eyeglasses. I put that on the application and said it during my interview to let them know that diversity is important. If I don’t get cast I will probably sue them. If you know any attorneys looking for some pro bono work, let me know.

Austen and I are still waiting to hear back. Our theory is that our acceptance letters got lost in the mail. This also happened to my letter from Hogwarts. I seem to have the worst luck.

Would you ever audition for The Bachelor? Have you done it, or someone you know?


-AJF
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July 19, 2016

IBM Sales Internship Week 7

Check out training, week 1, week 2, week 3week 4, week 5, and week 6!
  
(Note: I totally forgot to take a picture this week, so I hope you don't mind that this is a recycled one!).

“You can be discouraged by failure, or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes, make all you can. Because, remember that's where you'll find success - on the far side of failure.” Thomas J. Watson
IBM Sales Internship Week 7

It’s all about perspective, right? This week was rather up and down, with excitement as I attended my first client meetings and disappointment when some of the introductory meetings I coordinated were canceled. There is no doubt that no one really likes to fail, but as Watson points out you have to look at it as a learning opportunity and embrace it so you can begin to realize success. Overall, the positivity continued this week especially as I got my first in person client experiences.

As it is the start of the second half, I got to sit in on a planning session for a client and loved seeing how the team coordinates and strategizes their efforts to ensure they are providing the maximum value. From observing what the various levels of leadership contribute, to hearing about the impact of recent organizational changes, I was happy to learn how a direction is chosen and acted upon.

If you remember, I mentioned last week that I had been working very hard to speak with a particular client. At the start of this week I finally got on the phone with them and had an informative and enjoyable conversation. I’m coming to see more and more that most people genuinely want to be helpful, especially if you approach them with appreciation. The conversation went so well, in fact, that I was invited to go onsite to learn more about their current technology initiatives and get exposure to their industry. That is scheduled to take place in two weeks and I am so looking forward to it!

The highlight of the week was getting to go to in person client meetings. I was lucky enough one morning to run into an IBMer, who also went to my school, who was heading out to speak with a client. Not just any client, mind you, but a brand that I have admired for many years. When he invited me to join him I was thrilled and excited to see how an actual sales call plays out. While I have experience in the classroom learning about the ideal format of a call, being there for a real one was wonderful. There were certainly parallels, but I was more interested in the differences, especially to see how different approaches are necessary depending on which role you are speaking with. The offices were glamorous, the people were stylish, and the IBMer had a successful meeting, so all in all it was a great experience.

I did, however, mention that that there has been some disappointment this week. I’ve been working hard to arrange introductory meetings for the Software Client Leaders (SCL) I have been working with, and some were scheduled for this week. There I was, ready to listen in and finally see my hard work come to fruition, when some were cancelled. I felt badly for the SCL because I had booked up his time, and I felt discouraged because I had been waiting for this moment.

Oh well, onward I pressed, realizing that this is all part of the process (but still secretly feeling bummed out). I was on my way to what was supposed to be a client lunch meeting when I got a call from the seller I was meeting who told me the client had canceled. It was good to put in perspective that I am not the only one who gets canceled on! He and I still had lunch and he helped me realize that these sort of bumps in the road do not have to be viewed as negative. Rather, each step continually gets us closer to where we want to be. We have to be willing to experience the no’s so we can find the yes’s.

Right after lunch I had another introductory meeting scheduled and thankfully it wasn’t canceled. In fact, I was able to open the call for the first ten minutes and got to put into practice what I had observed and learned about from school and through the course of the internship. I made introductions, asked questions surrounding the role of the client, and started to get a high level view of his priorities. Once the call was done I felt on top of the world because I had been building up to an opportunity like this for quite some time.

Another great learning experience of the week was going with my host manager to a client meeting. We have been having conversations about how deals are structured and the steps that are taken to make them a reality. He’s told me about his approach and while it is good to learn about it in theory, the best part was seeing him and his team in action. Throughout my entire internship every IBMer has been welcoming to me and have allowed me to ask questions and watch what they do, which I am so grateful for. This strongly contributes to how enjoyable and positive my experience has been!

In previous posts I’ve mentioned the project I am working on to increase engagement in the offices of New York City, and now that things have begun to calm down from the end of the half, I was able to meet with the others I am working with. While I will be able to help start this project, more will have to be done after my internship is over. I’ll continue to work on it until ending the internship and hopefully it will grow to benefit every IBMer in the city.

Week 7 has proven to be another good one and I feel I have learned the most this week. Stay tuned to find out how my highly anticipated onsite meeting goes and how I continue to gain more exposure to client interactions as the internship progresses!

-AJF
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July 14, 2016

Update: I Didn't Buy Clothing For A Year

I wrote this post four months into my shopping ban, explaining why I had decided not to purchase clothing for a year. When I would tell people about my project, reactions were varied. "That is so awesome, I can't believe you're doing that!" to, "I could NEVER do that, it takes too much discipline." The truth of the matter is, yes it does take discipline and it is a hard task. Yet, it's also possible and the benefits are boundless.

The start of July marks the one year anniversary of the ban, so I'd like to share my key take aways to encourage you to try your own version.
Update: I Didn't Buy Clothing For A Year

Experiences really are most valuable

A reason I gave for banning clothing shopping for a year was to put my money toward experiences rather than things. I can honestly say that this practice leads to more fulfillment and happiness as I have developed myself and my relationships further. Plus, I have some exciting travel plans I have been saving up for and I believe those will generate more rewards than clothing items could hope for.

I have been building up my bank account and preparing for the future

With my last year of college approaching I have been thinking about the expenses of the real world...rent, student loans, all sorts of bills... To me if is far better to have an extra $20 in my bank account than another shirt.

Having less stuff makes me feel better

This year I was able to move myself out of my dorm room and back home completely by myself. I packed EVERYTHING (fridge, microwave, carpet, full length mirror, etc) into a Nissan Altima and transported myself home (check out my minimalist college packing list). Not only did I feel incredibly accomplished, but it is also a testament to how much I have been able to reduce my possessions and focus on the essential. Having the ability to get up and go is a comfort to me and makes me feel prepared for any opportunity that may come my way.

I've further defined my style and gotten more creative

Since I haven't brought anything new into my wardrobe I have been more motivated to use everything I already own. This has enabled me to create new outfits and be more in tune with what styles I truly like. You can check out my Pinterest board to see how even what I pin has become more simple and cohesive. Now I know when the time does come for me to buy something, I can select an item I will get a lot of use out of and I will be more willing to buy something of higher quality. 


Looking to the future

I've been strongly considering extending the ban for another year. I didn't feel the need to go out and shop once the ban ended and, as I mentioned in the first post, I do so love a challenge. Maybe I will be a bit more lax and allow myself to pick up a few things throughout the course of the year if they appeal to me and are in line with my style. However, I will not be returning to the mindset that allows me to buy unintentionally or frivolously. Keeping my wardrobe small and simple is a habit I have developed and intend to maintain.

How to do it yourself

So, has all of my ranting and raving about a shopping ban convinced you to try it yourself yet? If so, here are some guidelines you may consider using. You can modify or completely create your own to serve your purpose as well! 
  1. Set a timeline. I am a fan of a year (and now maybe two!), but set a realistic goal for yourself. Perhaps it's just six months or a season. Try it out and remember you can always extend it.
  2. Set parameters. Make a list of items you will be allowed to buy. For me, it was some key professional pieces, while for you it may be a leather jacket you've been on the hunt for or a summer dress.
  3. Think about benefits. Keeping in mind what you are getting out of your ban (like more money for experiences and less clutter) can keep you on track when you do see something you'd like to buy.
  4. Say no to shopping for entertainment. When your girlfriends ask you to go to the mall, suggest a hike or picnic instead. 
  5. Tell people what you are doing to be held accountable. During the course of the year I had moments of weakness. But, since my friends and family knew about the ban they kept me on track and would remind me that I didn't really need x,y,z. 
That's it! It is a simple, yet highly effective challenge that will have you saving money, time, and space, getting more creative, and learning more about your personal style. Who's ready to do this?

What are your thoughts on a shopping ban? Have you ever tried one?

-AJF
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