This is a guest post by Mary for Student Stories.
Before I started my internship, I thought the most challenging part of my new position (‘Accounting and Finance Intern’) would be fulfilling my job description. However, I soon realized that I was capable of doing my tasks easily enough. The real challenge of my internship, was working with some of my colleagues. I always thought I was good with people (after being told so many times), but I soon realized that being able to interact with people was not the same as creating solutions with co-workers.
One of my main projects, throughout my internship, was to update forms so that my colleagues had the necessary tools to comply with new legislation associated with the Affordable Health Care Act. I was also tasked with informing employees about how they would be affected by the new legislation and what they would need to do to comply with these laws.
Before I presented this information to my co-workers, updated the forms and put those forms into the database, I needed to present (and receive approval from) a woman in my accounting group. I will reframe from saying her name in respect for her position and to remain professional. Now, she was a nice women- but she was going through a difficult time. Her pet had recently died and she had been very close it. Whenever I would attempt to talk to her about the project or go through the presentation, she would turn the conversation into a theory session, where she would talk about personal matters.
During those conversations, all I could think about were all the instructions I had received from teachers, advisors, and even family about the importance of separating one’s personal life from how they interacted with co-workers. And in those moments, I realized why it was so important to separate ones personal life to work life. Instead of being productive, I felt like it was necessary for me to be sympathetic and listen to her problems. Yet, I also needed to complete my tasks. After going through this frustrating process multiply times, of being forced to act as her friend (instead of subordinate or colleague), I decided to change my approach.
When I asked for her for feedback, she would become distracted with her own life, so I stopped asking her for feedback. I began to ask her specific questions. “What did you think of slide 8? Did you think the statistic on slide 3 was effective? Did the formatting in this presentation make it easy to digest the information?” And so forth, until I got the feedback I needed to make the project succeed. I was happy because I was able to do what was necessary to make the project successful and to help the company comply with legislation. While, my colleague was happy with my progress, the project, and my ability to help the company comply with important legislative.
It became evident to me, after I completed this internship, that learning how to effectively communicate in a business environment was an essential skill. Being able to use tricks like using specific dialogue to shape a conversation (to obtain the information one needs) to achieve an assigned or necessary task, helped on complete their necessary tasks. Communication is vital to a person’s success in business, whether the mode of the conversation be e-mail, face-to-face, or even large group presentations. Without good communication, the inflow and outflow of information becomes diluted and difficult to manage, but with good communication, one can save time, energy, and results in one doing their best job possible. This is how, through my first internship, I learned that communication is the root of all business and being able to communicate makes almost any task possible.
About the Author:
Mary is a 20-year-old junior business major, who loves running her own jewelry business with friends, hanging out on the beach, and reading business articles in the wall street journal, yahoo.com, and anywhere else she can find them.