This past summer, I spent two months interning for Adobe in Munich, Germany. Throughout my time abroad, I not only experienced extraordinary personal growth through independent living, personal financing, and lone travels but professionally as well through challenging meetings and pressured deadlines. As a Business Development intern for Adobe, 70% of my work was centered around various business development projects, and the remaining 30% consisted of creating and maintaining client relationships with Eastern European firms.
Being that this was my first internship in a corporate environment, I carried with me two concerns going into day one: would my work would be valued and how I would go about attaining respect from professionals within the firm. With a fresh shave, I don’t look a day over 15, so winning over the respect of my co-workers and feeling valued while delivering reports or presenting to superiors was undoubtably a factor in my mind. Fortunately, backed by the numerous Best Offices to Work For awards placed around the office, Adobe, Munich promoted a unique culture of inclusion and innovation that completely erased these initial assumptions.
The young, tech environment provided an excellent opportunity for me to spread my wings and work within divisions of the office in which I envisioned myself providing the most value. Thanks to a flexible supervisor, I was able to work on various projects, across multiple horizontals, which translated into tangible and impactful results. Within the first few weeks, the work I produced created significant value to my assigned team, and with this, followed an unwavering level of respect from my co-workers. Over the course of the internship, I not only realized I had the ability to establish respect within a corporate office but also be seen as a valuable contribution to any project or team I was placed on.
Now, lets take a step back. Reaching this point didn’t come without a few bumps along the way. On day one, I was placed within the office’s Sales team. The placement itself had me scratching my head for two reasons: my contract focused on general business development work rather than sales, and my specializations center around Accounting & Computer Science. How they came up with placing me within Sales baffled me. In spite of the disappointment, I pushed forward knowing that if I were to move to an alternative branch of Adobe, I’d first have to establish credibility and prove myself worthy of more dynamic projects.
This was the inception of overcoming my assumptions that interns were often times regarded as a dead weight around the office. Over the course of the first couple of weeks, I worked hard to become exceptionally successful in attaining the sales metrics my supervisor held me accountable to. Each day, I made it a point to utilize every last minute either working towards the professional goals or networking with those in divisions I found interesting. Working on an alternative project consumed my every thought. Being able to do so would not only raise my interest in the internship itself but would eliminate any doubt in myself as an intern as well.
The true turning point of the internship came when my supervisor sat me down for a candid conversation to survey my sentiment of the internship thus far. I knew this was an opportunity to state my mind, a true turning point in the internship. After much negotiating and communicating of my prior sales achievements, my supervisor finally complied to assigning me to an alternative project. For my remaining time at Adobe, I’d find myself within the office’s business development division working on a range of process improvement assignments.
Coming away from this experience, I’ve gained a number of valuable lessons that will contribute to my success as a business professional going forward. Below are three major takeaways:
The Art of The Grind. Many people say they want good grades, a fulfilling career/internship, or a fruitful salary but few people are willing to put in the work necessary to achieve their goals. The difference between those who live their dreams and those who keep them as “nice thoughts” is how much work you are willing to put in. For me, I knew that if I were to be seen as a valuable contribution to Adobe, I’d have to first work hard to prove I was capable of complex, high-value assignments. In the end, the early mornings and late night paid off.
Defy Stereotypes. Interns are highly unmotivated kids who expect and deserve nothing more than mundane, unremarkable tasks. Sales professionals are sleazy scammers pushing to find any way to take your money. After this internship, I’ve come to realize stereotypes are not dangerous because of their unflattering social labels but rather because they confine you to a limited range of personality types, goals, and responsibilities. Going forward in my professional career, I refuse to limit my concept of the potential impact I may have based on the title of my role, socioeconomic status, or any other defined label.
Communication Skills Are Vital. From winning over the trust of a CMO leading to a $1.2 million deal, to convincing my boss why I deserve an alternative project, being about to convey your thoughts in a way that ends in getting what you want is a critical skill not only in the office but in life as whole.