An Open Letter for the Winter 2012 Interns

Posted on February 14, 2012 by 7 Comments

An Open Letter for the Winter 2012 Interns

Written by Ben Benson – Account Coordinator – DPE (Developer Tools)

Welcome, new interns!  

I can easily recall your exact position. On October 3 last year, I arrived at Waggener Edstrom in Portland with a notepad in hand and tie around my collar. I walked into the reception area sporting a shave only 20 minutes old. I was prepared for a new day.

Turns out, I was only as prepared as a fresh WaggEd face could be – not at all. I heard unknown terms, acronyms, phrases, and lingo. My fellow interns and I glanced at one another periodically in confusion and awe. The people were enthusiastic, forthcoming, friendly, and informative. And yet, we felt overwhelmed. My notes, no matter how plentiful, may as well have been unintelligible scrawl.

At one point on our first day, my fellow intern and now great friend, Shaun Mayo said, “I don’t know about anyone else, but I have no idea what is going on.”

Trust me, I could relate. In fact, I still can.

You will soon need information from Waggener Edstrom’s marketing team for Fun Week, the operations team for where to locate supplies, or any one of the Microsoft BGs (business group – you’ll pick that one up quick) for your daily projects.

In a general sense, you may find yourself in this situation: You do not know whom to contact to give you background on the thing you’re supposed to do for a team lead in a different state. You may not even know where to start. But someone else does. And you should ask them.

Across the entire agency and every BG, someone can help you out with – honestly – any problem you encounter.

You will have countless people tell you “Please reach out” or “Let me know if you need anything” or “Shout with questions.” I’ll be one of those people. But the truth is that everyone at Waggener Edstrom is willing to help you however possible.

Sometimes you will be referred to several people before you find the right answer. This process of tracking down information turns out to be extremely valuable. Each additional person you contact and build a relationship with can help you from then on.

With that said, if I can give you one key piece of advice, embrace the opportunity to connect with people across the agency. I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to network internally without using extravagant word art.

During your internship, find someone you spoke to briefly over coffee and ask them about their typical day. Pick a team you’re interested in and learn more about how they operate. Shoot, fabricate a reason to connect with someone. Your manager can help you if you do not know whom to connect with or feel awkward reaching out directly. I guarantee it will be worth your time.

With that said, feel free to ask me anything, any time. Whether that question is “What do you do on a daily basis?” or “Could you tell me about developer tools?” or “Do you actually like standing all day?” I’ll try to give you my best answer.

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Sarah Vitort on February 14, 2012

Can’t tell you how much I appreciate your post, looking forward to the next twelve weeks!!

Melanie Moir on February 14, 2012

Beautiful advice, and beautiful offer. I remember this guy on his first day, and I never would have guessed. Ben, you’ve mastered “fake it ’til you make it!” We’re so lucky to have you at the agency, and I’m thrilled to call you my colleague.

Newbies – This is the “pay it forward” attitude that I was talking about.

Diana Cansino on February 14, 2012

This is a wonderful piece! I think we can all relate to the first day jitters. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Sarah Linker on February 15, 2012

I love this thoughtful post, Ben! Totally agree with your advice on connecting with other teams and BGs across the agency (esp. for Fun Week). Interns – We are so thrilled to have you! Like Ben said, feel free to ask/tweet us any questions, it was not that long ago we were in your shoes!

Ben Benson on February 15, 2012

I’m glad you like it, everyone! Thank you! And, like I said, please feel to reach out anytime!

Rebecca Hwang on February 16, 2012

I was skeptical about applying for a summer internship position, but now I’m feeling a bit more confident. Thanks for this post!

Jamil Ghores on March 21, 2012

It’s posts like this one that really make me want to join the team at WE! It’s extremely evident that it truly is a team, and everyone cares for one another. Thank you, Ben!

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