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Three Tips for a Successful Internship

Three Tips for a Successful Internship

Sarah Baranowski / BusinessWeek

Learn Something About Yourself

About a month into my role as a strategic planner, I began to recognize a long-standing strength of mine for aligning strategies across functional areas. For a few years now, I have struggled with my elevator pitch, my 30-second response to “So, what do you do exactly?” Tough question to answer for someone who does not have a widely understood job title. By shifting perspective this summer, I finally was able to put it into words.

I realized that I had been too focused on where I sit in the org structure: “I specialize in ops management; no wait, it’s project management. Or is it process improvement? Supply chain? Well, it’s one of those things, I’m pretty sure.” Hardly the right message to send. In my role this summer, I finally saw my blind spot. Forget my job function; that’s temporary.

What really matters is that I connect functions. I connect sales, marketing, operations, and fulfillment—what it takes to sell and what it takes to deliver as promised. I sit at the interface between these areas, make sure that they understand one another, and make sure that their strategies are aligned. It means being cross-functional by nature, and it means building a cross-functional team that cuts open the silo walls. That’s me. That’s what I do. Lightbulb moment!

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