Life of a Start Up Intern


I remember my first real  internship.  Cold calling thousands of C- leads to try and squeeze out some level of moderate interest for the VP of sales at a transportation company in the suburbs of Cleveland, OH.  A cubicle, phone, lead list and survey I was instructed to conduct if I was able to keep a prospect on the phone long enough to actually answer a question.  Which didn’t happen very often.  Not exactly “field experience” or a big resume builder but it was what I thought I needed at the time.  Truth be told I learned far more about professional selling, customer service, internal client relations and leadership working as a waiter for 5 summers than I did smiling and dialing with my handy transportation survey.

So, this summer, when I was managing my own intern I had hoped to provide a bit of an elevated experience.  And while I stumbled often, I am pleased to say that my intern (Lora) decided to stick around past our end of summer expiration date and continue to lend a hand at REA.  And she rocks.  Organized, efficient and interested in learning and growing her skills so she is better prepared to enter a competitive job market when she graduates this spring.  The other day I was actually wondering if her ‘internship experience’ was proving beneficial (and was hoping it was a little more useful to her than my own).  So I asked.  And her perspective on the experience offered me some terrific feedback and ran a bit contrary to some of the stereotyping associated with Gen Y (specifically around social media and loyalty).  And Lora’s perspective is one worth sharing.  Plus, it wouldn’t be an internship if we didn’t have fun assignments like write your first blog post.

So, a few thoughts from Lora, our Rock Star Start Up Intern!

About me:

Lora, Rock Star Intern at Ryan Estis & Associates I am Lora Berthiaume, a senior at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. I am studying Marketing and Advertising, in hopes to have a job that allows me to be creative in every way possible. When I am not in class or studying hard, you can find me interning at Ryan Estis & Associates.

What I am learning in my intern experience that I didn’t already know:

Throughout my internship, which started in June 2009, I have gained more hands-on knowledge and business experience than words can even describe. I have been able to sit in on client meetings and project planning meetings, those alone opening my eyes to the real world.

I also was put in charge of calling and emailing speaker’s bureaus, which I absolutely dreaded. I now know after all of that, that it is not so bad to have to make calls. It was nerve racking the first couple of times, but the more I knew what I was talking about, the easier it got. I believe that experience has helped my communication and speaking skills grow.

Before the internship started, I did not have a Linkedin or Twitter account. I was definitely a skeptic of Twitter, but Ryan Estis made Kristi Jones (an employee at REA) sit down with me and teach me the ways of Twitter. Now I realize how helpful and fun it actually is.

I am learning that it is imperative that employees work together and build on each other in order to have success within a company. If no one is collaborating with one another, goals and objectives will not be accomplished in a timely manner.

My thoughts on social media, job searching and how we (Gen Y) use these new web tools:

Social media is a crucial part of our (Gen Y) lives both personally and professionally. Facebook is probably the most common type of social media used for us. It is our way to connect with classmates and old friends, procrastinate on work that we should be doing, as well as keep up to date with the social lives of everyone (also known as Facebook stalking). For the most part, we try to use Facebook strictly for social purposes with friends. Since we do like Facebook for social purposes, it tends to be questionable when a company or employer tries to contact and recruit us via Facebook. I think most of us agree that it would bother us and would feel like it was an invasion to our personal and social lives if employers or companies added or messaged us on Facebook. It is not that we do not want information on opportunities, because with this economy we will take just about anything, but more so it is our perception that Facebook is not for professional use. To most of us, recruitment opportunities should be sent via Linkedin and Twitter.

As indicated above, Linkedin and Twitter are our links to the professional world. Linkedin and Twitter are still foggy areas for our generation, but I think they are growing on us slowly but surely. Most of my classmates and friends have a Linkedin account, but do not use it to the full potential. Only about 20% of my friends have a Twitter, and to be honest, a lot of non-users seem to be extremely skeptical of it. My thoughts on the skeptics are that they do not know the benefits Twitter has; Such as links for blogs that might provide you with helpful hints and advice for interviewing, links that list job openings, or just random information (or gossip) about your favorite celebrity!

As far as job searching goes, most people I know use their university’s career development website that provides job and internship opportunities. Those types of websites usually are able to get rid of the scam job listings that most other public job search sites contain.

Why I still work for Ryan even though he doesn’t pay me?

That is a great question. I ask myself that everyday. Just kidding! Other than the fact that interning for Ryan Estis & Associates is a great résumé builder, I am not only learning different aspects of business and social media, but also time management. Interning in addition to working part-time and going to school full-time has tested my capabilities for meeting deadlines. I am now able to juggle all three responsibilities, and get everything I need to done. This is what I imagine it will be like at a “real” full-time job, and so I am glad I have the experience to know different ways to manage my time efficiently when I have multiple projects to work on. This internship is obviously not helping me pay off my massive student loans, but it is helping me receive priceless knowledge and experience, and I thank Ryan Estis for the great opportunity he has given me!

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