“Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous – not just to some people in some circumstances – but to everyone all the time.” Thomas J. Watson
This may seem like a funny quote to start with, but I promise you, its relevance will become evident soon. Stick it out until the end, trust me. And in terms of the relevance of the photo, time is ticking on and the internship is almost at a close (also, I know the background is actually meat scales, but I decided to use my artistic liberty)!
I did a lot of Watson related activities this week and I was psyched. As the internship has progressed, I’ve been coming closer to determining where my main interests lie and what I would like to sell. Discovering more about “cognitive computing” and its capabilities has led me to the Watson group and I have been excited by all of the possibilities. On Monday I worked out of Astor Place (and I so regret that I haven’t taken a picture there. Somehow, it feels too touristy and uncool to do that in such a hip place).
The reason I was working out of Astor was because the Millennial Corps partnered with the Weather Company (a recent IBM acquisition) to host a co-working day. Basically, you could come to Astor Place, which is the home of Watson and a space that feels more like a startup than a corporate office, and work and connect with others. Emulating co-working spaces like WeWork, the day was fun, collaborative, and actually quite productive. Something that has been a major focus during my internship is getting to know many IBMers from all parts of the business and this was another awesome forum to do it in. There were about 30 of us, which kept it intimate and I had some insightful conversations about starting your career at IBM.
In previous posts I mentioned that I was pursuing the opportunity to spend time with the team that writes cognitive references. They interview clients who are successfully leveraging cognitive technology and write references that can be used by sellers to help other clients imagine the possibilities of using Watson in their own business. I partnered with a writer who has been absolutely fantastic with exposing me to the work of her team, encouraging me with this writing project that you’re currently reading, and including me on interviews. It was great to hear first-hand from clients how they are using our technology to improve their outcomes. I also spent time developing a brief for a potential Watson project for an account a Software Client Leader (SCL) on my team covers and speaking with a Watson sales manager (let’s play a game called count how many times Alyssa says “Watson” in this blog post…).
This week I also worked on identifying people in a particular account who may benefit from our Bluemix offering and strategizing with my team on the best way to approach these prospects. For the same account, I designed a customized online RSVP site to track attendance for an upcoming event. I love getting to see all of the background work that goes into building up relationships with clients. In school I am mainly exposed to sales calls and best practices surrounding meetings, so it is wonderful to couple that with what I am learning at IBM.
As I mentioned before, getting to know other IBMers and forming relationships has been at the forefront of my activities. I connected with someone else in the Watson group who has an interest in bots and we had a discussion about the potential Watson project I mentioned before and shared ideas. I also got to talk to an IBMer who commented on a previous blog post and had an informative conversation about his experience in the Summit program. And I met with yet another IBMer (who also commented on my blog) in-person, and there is quite a story to go along with it, let me tell you.
So, when you go to Astor Place it’s like you are entering a top secret facility. You need your name on a list and a badge to get everywhere. When I arrived at Astor (for the second time this week!) I was granted access to the fourth floor. When you get in the elevator there aren’t any buttons because you need to show your badge and select a floor prior to entering. Since I had access to the fourth floor I was sent in the elevator there by security, but then I was stuck because I didn’t have a badge to get through the door after the elevator. To solve this dilemma, I quickly made a friend who let me in. I worked there for a while before going to meet the IBMer who commented on my blog and is part of Watson Health. He came and got me from the fourth and we went to the fifth floor to have a lovely talk about his experience as an intern and transition to Watson full time.
The story of jumping floors doesn’t end there, however! He brought me up to the seventh floor where I was going to meet the Watson sales manager in person who I spoke to on the phone earlier in the week. We said hello before I had to run to the sixth floor for a meeting about the NYC community I’ve referenced in previous posts (an update there: I designed a community page and we’re discussing the inaugural event for the group soon!). I had to make another friend to get me back up the seventh floor before the Watson sales manager and I headed out for lunch. When we got back to Astor, I was brought up to the fifth floor to take a cognitive reference call before finally exiting Astor and ending my floor hopping for the day. I felt like a top secret agent jumping between floors and navigating the high security building!
Another fun part of this week was a networking happy hour that was arranged by some interns. My manager (who is back from his vacation!) and I went and had a great time. Although we initially ended up at the wrong place and it took us far more time than anticipated to arrive, it was still a fun night.
Now to finally explain the quote I used at the start of the post. I spent the day on site with an SCL on my team and learned so much. He was absolutely great with giving me a look at a day in the life of an SCL and he shared tons of good advice with me. From demonstrating how he maps out opportunities to how to hold both your team and client accountable, this was one of the most valuable days of my internship. Something that stood out to me was when he gave me completely unfiltered advice. He told me how not everyone I interact with will do the right thing or have character, but that if you can be good to everyone (like Watson said), you will win.
I do have to tell you that there was a disappointment this week (along the same lines as two weeks ago): a client I was so looking forward to meeting postponed our appointment and I’m not sure if I’ll get to go since the internship is close to ending. As my summit manager advised me, I am trying not to let things out of my control upset me too much and am instead focusing on what I do have the ability to influence. In that vein, I was glad to make a presentation to my team of SCLs this week (because I am in control of my activities!) about a variety of selling resources that they may not have known about and explaining how they can leverage them to increase the success of their meetings and reduce preparation time. I was also able to pull in what I had learned from the cognitive writers about accessing references and was glad to bring together information from various sources. I also worked with the writers to give feedback from a seller’s perspective about enablement resources and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing how sales is influenced from multiple avenues.
This week ended on a high note with a conversation with a Watson “evangelist” who gave me a better understanding of the capabilities of Watson. His story of entering IBM was quite interesting since he founded a startup based on Watson technology before coming on board with IBM. The beauty of a place like IBM is that you get exposed to people of all different backgrounds who bring their individual talents to the organization. I am so sad to see the internship coming to an end (and in slight denial that I am giving my final presentation next week), but so glad to have had the experience. Stay tuned for the upcoming last full week of the internship!
If you were playing the game I proposed earlier, the final Watson word count is 18.