STEP Reflection

I participated in the Internship Component of STEP in order to develop my teamwork/leadership skills, supplement my education, and gain work experience at L Brands Enterprise in Columbus, Ohio. STEP allowed me the fortunate ability to spend two internships with L Brands and my reflection spans over both summer experiences, comparing what I have learned. My personal and professional development is dependent on the experiences I have had over the past two summers because of the contrasting work experience and team environments, which allowed me to developed an understanding of the culture within both the Accounting and Finance Departments and garner knowledge of forecasting models and financial reporting procedures. From my first internship experience in the accounting department, I learned a few different things. I learned I generally do not build relationships when working. However, I began to understand the importance of building such relationships with coworkers. I started to prioritize attending team lunches and activities, which allowed me to make better connections and meet new coworkers, and I took and interest in their personal lives when appropriate. This was something I took with me when I started working with the finance team during my second internship. Closely related, communication, I have learned, can always be improved. Although I believe I have strong communication skills, I have learned that I normally only communicate in the way preferred to me—face-to-face conversation and only asking questions if I need information. Forming questions was a big portion of my second internship as I learned how to ask questions depending on the type of person you communicate with. For example, working on such a small team, I had the opportunity to communicate daily with the Associate Vice President of Finance all the way down to my financial analysts. I learned how detailed my questions should be and how to brainstorm follow-up questions as well as how to deliver these questions. I learned that some prefer emails rather than face-to-face communication; others prefer you ask questions in person or over the phone.
Overall, I gained immense amounts of knowledge regarding my interactions with others during this STEP experience this summer. I tend to try my best to be very aware of my perceptions and actions when presenting information or asking questions to my team members. I learned that I am a strong collaborator in team settings and that I continually reach out to others to make sure everyone is on the same page. Although it is sometimes uncomfortable for me, I have internally reflected to establish an understanding that relationships are an important component for successful team building environments and being a respected leader. I have garnered a few tools in my experience this semester that will help me communicate better with my peers and create stronger relationships so I can be a better leader. To me, being a leader is closely tied to perceptions—if you create a positive environment for development and a trusting and communicative relationship, those who you lead will be motivated to work hard and build off your energy. In many ways throughout both of my internships, I saw the effects of this process and in others I saw the negative effects of this nonexistent process.
My manager, Christy, from my accounting internship experience was drastically different in management style than my second manager Andrea in the finance internship where I focused on finance based tasks. Working with Christy was an extremely positive learning experience because I was able to learn how others’ leadership styles may affect my approach to working with them. In order to maximize team effectiveness and build relationships, I have to best understand how to work with others in a way that they want to interact. Comparing others’ leadership styles helped me understand and become more aware of my preferred methods of leading and interacting and how to adapt these behaviors in different environments. While working with Christy, I learned that I have a strong response to physical cues. Christy was very open with her expressions and it put me off when we first began working together. However, after reflection, I learned that I needed to ask questions to better communicate with others rather than making assumptions about their intentions. I found I needed to learn not to take reactions from others so personally, ask deliberate questions and realize that making mistakes is not a bad thing.
Working with Andrea was a completely different setting. Andrea took strong interest in my personal life and wanted to learn about my desires for long-term employment. Andrea used a very developmental style of management, which I found much easier to respond to. This was something I took note of for my own leadership practice both to use at school in student orgs, and for the future when I become a manager of individuals or a team.
During my first internship, I worked with a team member who truly motivated me to be more curious and adapt a love of learning in my work. Chris approached things with a much more curious mindset than others on the team. Chris always asked questions and wanted explanations, which is something I personally connect with. Whenever we ran into something we didn’t know, he looked it up or tried to dig deeper into the information and he asked many questions. We were learning together, which I think is an important realization when discussing attributes of a leader. Leaders don’t know everything and they learn from their followers. I learned from Chris that being curious doesn’t mean you have to verbally ask questions, but you can look further into details and ask yourself deeper questions. This makes you a better team member because you are willing to go the extra mile and you then have the ability to explain more to your team members because you have gained a more thorough understanding of the material. During my second internship on the Financial Planning and Analysis team, I found a team member, named Sam, who had a very similar style in comparison to Chris. Sam furthered my curiosity, which was a very important characteristic in the finance department because we work with many cross-functional teams for which we do not know all the ins-and-outs. By being curious and not being afraid to ask simple questions Sam taught me that you can create opportunities for yourself and others by opening doors that you never knew existed, all because you asked the right question.
I look forward to taking these experiences to heart and utilizing the skills and knowledge I have taken away from each individual to better my leadership skills, competency, and future employment experience. I get the most from interacting with people and the STEP experience allowed me to work with two different teams in order to develop an understanding of myself and find my passion.
My internship experiences solidified my decision to finish my major in Accounting at the Fisher College of Business and even successfully led to a job offer at the end of my experience. Through this internship, I came to many realizations of the differences between accounting and finance positions, which ultimately, aided my decision to accept an employment opportunity in the Rotational Finance Program at L Brands upon graduation.
The most important piece of my STEP experience was the ability of working in both Accounting and Finance departments within the L Brands Enterprise. From reviewing my strengths and values during my time in STEP, I personally feel that a finance position embodies my values of challenge, curiosity and competency while aligning with my strengths of Futuristic, Strategic and Discipline. I was motivated to work in the Finance area because the work clearly had a futuristic focus and allowed for autonomy and exposure to many finance functions and cross-functional roles. The accounting position, however, challenged me in different ways. My strengths of Focus and Discipline were clearly aligned to my role in the accounting department, however, I felt unfulfilled after mastering a topic or procedure. After comparing and contrasting these positions, I was able to make a more educated decision about my employment opportunities and what I might enjoy doing in the future. This was extremely important to me because I was very undecided about where to start my work experience. STEP not only afforded me the experience of learning about myself and gaining a deeper understanding of my coursework, but it also provided me the opportunity to accept a job offer.

One thought on “STEP Reflection

  1. Well, I would say accepting a job offer made this a very positive experience. I appreciate that you had two different supervisors with different style. Being able to learn how to respond to each of these will serve you well in the future. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations.

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