Lessons Learned

This has been a really exciting week at work! I have been working on projects in multiple departments and meeting with different supervisors. It has given me the opportunity to see several aspects of the company and also understand the bigger picture of the company’s current goals. I feel like I have been able to see the result of the work I have been doing, instead of just completing assignments for my supervisor and not seeing how they are used later on. In the last several weeks, when I would be given a task, I would complete it and pass it along to my supervisor, and then have no clue what happened to it afterwards. This week, however, I have been able to see projects carried out from end to end, and it has allowed me to see the underlying processes of the company’s business model. I also feel like I have been given more responsibility in the last week. There has been more room for interpretation within my projects, and I have had the freedom to complete them in my own style.

Before the IIP Berlin, my leadership style was more passive. I was not afraid to speak up if I knew I needed to, but I generally liked to be more reserved. As an auditory learner, I really liked to listen to everything that was going on around me. I absorbed and retained that information really well, but I was hesitant to present my own ideas or ask for new projects. I was especially nervous coming into this internship because I have no prior experience in the field, and everyone who works at the company is extremely well-qualified and very intelligent. At the beginning of the internship, I tried to spend most of my time learning and preparing by doing research on the field. As the weeks went by, I felt my confidence grow as I began to ask more questions and reach out to other team members. Even though I still have a few weeks left in the program, I feel significant improvement. I now feel ready to offer potential solutions and engage more with my coworkers. I think the hardest hurdle to overcome is facing rejection. I have always been nervous when offering suggestions because I don’t know how they will be received. Previously, I had felt that if I offered something that was not well-received, it would have been better to not say anything at all. Since participating in the IIP, my perspective has definitely changed. I have learned that sharing information, ideas, and perspectives – even if they aren’t used – helps with brainstorming and communication. The most important takeaway is that the first idea will not always be the best one, and that’s okay – I can’t expect it to come right away! My first idea will open the door for better ideas, and eventually I will be able to offer something that is helpful and important.

Another key part of being a leader is learning to accept criticism with humility and patience. This program has definitely helped me develop these skills. I assumed that as an intern, I would be doing smaller tasks that did not require much feedback. I was definitely wrong about that! I have participated in several ongoing projects that required many rounds of revisions, and along with that, criticisms. This experience has helped me to accept those constructive criticisms and see the value of that feedback and how I can use it to my advantage. This has helped my leadership skills as I will be able to both accept and provide helpful feedback to others in the future.

I feel like I have also grown closer with my coworkers this week. The last few weeks, a lot of people were on vacation or business trips. This week, the office has been really full since everyone has returned from their trips, and a few new people were hired. I think this has inspired everyone to take the time to chat, go out to lunch together, and try to connect more. There is girl from Vienna about my age who has worked here for a couple months, and I really like spending time with her. It has been so nice to have a great internship experience and make some friends too!

I am excited to see how the remainder of my internship unfolds as I gain more responsibility within my role, as well as what kind of fun experiences I will be able to have in Berlin these last three weeks. It’s crazy to think how many places I still want to visit, and I know the time will fly by!

Wish me luck!
Kayla