“Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up” Thomas J. Watson
It’s finally here: this was the last full week of the internship. As you can well tell, this has been an overwhelmingly positive summer and I am so glad I earned the opportunity to work for IBM. I’ve decided to do a “Week 10.5” post next Wednesday (the official last day) that will serve as my reflect-on-everything-that-happened-and-thank-all-of-the-people-and-try-not-to-be-too-sentimental post. So for now, let’s jump in to my recap and observations of the week!
This week I got to spend a day at a client site with a Software Client Leader (SCL) on my team, Taylor. It’s sort of a funny story how Taylor and I initially met. Everyone in my family is quite outgoing and we all enjoy interacting with new people, with this applying especially to my father. One day during the time I was in the process of interviewing with IBM, he gave me a call after he went to McDonald’s and said, “You’re not going to believe what I found out today!” He proceeded to tell me that he had been talking with a nice man and his son for the past couple of weekends when they kept seeing each other at the McDonald’s in town. Through conversation he discovered that Taylor (aka the nice man) worked for IBM, so that next weekend I was there at the McDonald’s (not my usual haunt, you see, but this was a special circumstance), ready to meet this IBMer!
When I started my internship Taylor and I weren’t on the same team, but the reorganization gods decided to put us together for the second half. This week, I met with him and his team on his client’s site to sit in on a meeting. With each successive week I’ve been able to understand more of the meetings I join and am glad that I have progressed since the start of the summer. I’ve learned how to ask relevant and meaningful questions that contribute both to my growth and cause others to take a look at what may have become “standard” and examine the why behind it.
The next day I attended a planning session for this same client. It was a great way to see how the team learns and understands more about the client and then plans on how to make them more successful. The open forum and encouragement of brainstorming was a great environment to learn in and I can see that IBMers recognize the necessity of collaboration. Getting everyone together from different areas of the business brought forth new ideas and it’s clear that sharing information is key to driving our client’s growth.
That day I was also able to have a conversation with another Watson manager (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts I have really enjoyed talking to people in Watson) and seem to learn something new each time. Getting their perspective not only on the future of their business, but also learning about how they personally made their way to their role, has been valuable. What I’m coming to realize is that there are so many different ways to reach and achieve your goals. No one path is the same, which makes me excited to see what my future holds! Which fork in the road shall I go down…we’ll have to wait and see.
I was able to attend another planning session this week for a different SCL’s account. Once again, I enjoyed the context I had due to attending meetings for this client in previous weeks. It has also been interesting to see the variety of styles SLCs have in the management of their teams. I feel quite fortunate to have the opportunity to observe this and think about what I will want to incorporate in my future career. I’ve also enjoyed identifying what has worked in these sessions and sharing them with other SCLs so they can have that same opportunity to make it part of their process.
The big event of this week was the intern final presentations. I practiced with another intern leading up to the big day and felt good going into the meeting. We were asked to share about our internship experience, including what we learned and how we contributed. Getting to formally see what everyone has been working on and the variance of our experiences was fun. I especially liked how different everyone’s presentations were, both in content and style. It reminded me that approaching what seems to be a standard activity (like a presentation) with some creativity (like incorporating pop culture references) can serve to set you apart and make you memorable.
My presentation went well and I could hardly contain my enthusiasm for this summer. I wanted to share everything that I’ve written about and more, but with only 10 minutes allotted, I had to be a bit more concise. The highlights were definitely my prospecting campaign (and I bet you thought I wouldn’t mention prospecting in this post…don’t you worry, it will always be present), my blogging, and the people I have met. I cannot emphasize enough the positivity and encouragement of the IBMers I’ve interacted with. I am so thoroughly impressed by them and they truly made my summer. As Watson said, interacting with people who inspire and push you is the best way to improve yourself.
In the afternoon I headed down to the financial district for lunch with one of my mentors this summer, Kristin (who's in the post picture with me). It was so nice to catch up with her and hear about the incredible things she is working on. I admire all that she has done in her career and aspire to be like her. We got to talk through what my next steps should be and discuss general life advice (like how to figure out how to cook once I no longer have a dining hall to go to and how to prioritize personal and work life). After lunch I spent some time on her client’s site and once again have found myself much more able to understand the important points in meetings.
A very cool part of this week was when I got to have a conversation with Jeannette Browning. She is a manager in the Watson group (we’re starting to see a pattern here of Watson I think...) and she trademarked the term “Social Selling.” This has to do with reaching clients in non-traditional ways (read: not phone calling or emailing) and leveraging social media to provide value. It’s exciting to see how you can chart your own path within IBM and create your own opportunities. Here is another testament to the willingness of IBMers from all levels to help others and provide insight and advice.
This week I was also focused on wrapping up final projects and action items. There are still calls to join in on and conversations to have, but it’s also a time to wind down and reflect. I will be back mid-next week for the final internship farewell post, so make sure to tune in!