(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
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. Even though 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.