With approximately half of my six-month internship behind me, it’s a good time to think about what I’ve learned to date, in terms of both job-specific and interpersonal skills. Three topics in particular come to mind when reflecting on things I’ve learned that I could utilize in a possible future managerial role. I’ve broken them down into: “openness to critical questions”, “innovation is for everyone”, and “open & honest communication”. I will now expand on each point one by one.
Openness to critical questions
One of the major goals of an internship is to gain valuable work experience. You often enter an organization knowing comparably little about the company and industry as compared to industry veterans. Especially in the beginning, it is part of your job to get up to speed and to understand processes, etc. as soon as possible. As an intern, I believe you shouldn’t be shy to make the most out of this situation by also questioning some processes and thinking of improvements. After all, it’s you who has a fresh set of eyes on how day-to-day business is conducted. It takes a bit of confidence to question processes. A manager’s encouragement can help a great deal and might be rewarded with increased efficiencies, time savings and other sizeable improvements for the company. In
a managerial role, I would thus always try to welcome and encourage critical questions and suggestions on improving ways of working.
Innovation is for everyone
Innovation is a core value of adidas and the company puts a lot of effort into creating an environment that allows that. For me as an intern it’s always energizing to be a part of cross-functional meetings and brainstorming sessions with so many creative minds. I’ve learned that great ideas can come out of informal settings and are not necessarily related to experience or areas of responsibility. As a manager, I would want to contribute to creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to be creative and where everyone is on a level playing field. I believe there are many small things you can do to help spark innovation, and these small things could lead to sizeable benefits for the organization.
Open and honest communication
The third and final main point I’ve learned is that open and honest communication goes a long way in keeping trust and motivation levels high. On a personal level, real feedback from experienced managers is crucial for making the most out of a six-month internship. This doesn’t always have to mean lengthy feedback sessions, but immediate and short feedback is always very helpful, too.
On a larger, organization level, I always feel more involved and thus motivated when I get insights into the larger context and updates on relevant matters even if they are not directly related to my actual tasks. Being a part of the adidas team has allowed me to see first-hand how a prominent industry player does these things well, and this has made me think about how I could make the most of this knowledge in a managerial position down the road.
Obviously I’ve also learned a great deal of other skills and ways of working, but I will leave it at these three points for now.