A fond farewell

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Well folks, this is it, the last of my summer internship blog posts. I will be officially finished with work this Thursday, August 25, which just happens to be my 21st birthday :) This last weekend was an eventful one; the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival which I've been working hard on all summer finally happened! It was a ton of fun and I was really pleased with how it turned out. However, it was about 12 hours on my feet, so I'm a bit exhausted. I suppose my last bit of advice would be to tie up loose ends and make sure to take examples of your work with you for future jobs.

Next week, I will be loading the photos I took, the videos I made and the press releases I wrote onto a zip drive. I will be packing up the festival components and re-organizing the computer files that I used to pull it all together. I'll say good-bye to my co-workers, give my boss a little gift, watch one last Sparky Show and be on my way. It is definitely a sad thing for me, but on the bright side, the fact that I'm sad means I had a blast this summer at my job! They didn't even pay me and I want to keep working there. Now I know that I love non-profits and small organizations and that they are a great fit for my future.

I was extremely dedicated to my work and I know it has shown. My boss actually had me go into the channel 5 studio to do an interview about the festival we put on! In the future I can definitely ask him for a recommendation, and I know it will be glowing. Before you leave your internship, make sure to get contact information for people you will want to be in touch with, for personal or professional reasons. You never know when you might need to ask something of them or have something to offer in return. Make sure to take as much of your work as possible with you. I'll be gathering up the programs flyers and map that I helped put together for the festival. Last but not least, make your mother proud and say thank you to each person who worked with you and helped you learn.

Alright, I'm getting nostalgic and rambling. So now I will say good-bye. Best of luck to you all in your internship endeavors, whether you love it or hate it, I know you'll all learn a lot! Thanks for reading, and feel free to contact,

<3 Emily Smythe

The art of leaving

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Alas, summer is coming to an end. For me, and many others, this means internships are also coming to an end. Though there are many things you can learn and take away from your work in any internship, perhaps the most important is contacts. Of course your work is the best way to make an impact on your employer and co-workers, but to help them remember you (and remember you positively) the way in which you leave is also important.

You don't have to do anything fancy or expensive, a sincere note of thanks is perfectly adequate. In my case, since I work closely with my two bosses, I have the ability to do something a little more personalized. For my Como Zoo boss, I will be buying a box of energy bars since I know he thinks meals take too long :) For my Dodge Nature Center boss, I will be baking something sweet, since making things from scratch says you care enough to sacrifice your time.

I will do this not only to show my appreciation for the things these people have taught me, but also so that when I call to ask a question, get a recommendation or even apply for a job at either organization, they will remember me and remember me well. The more personal you can make your final interactions, the more memorable you will be. All of this leaving business is a facet of networking. Networking is one of those buzz words that can seem ambiguous and intimidating, but really, it's nothing more than learning about people, learning from people and making sure you're remembered.

Ask for what you need: bosses are people too!

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One of my favorite things about my internship at the zoo is that there is always so much work! It might sound crazy, and it sort of is, but I love feeling like the work I do is important. Meaning, if I didn't do the work, it just wouldn't get done. People wouldn't know about all of the awesome opportunities and events that happen at the zoo, or at least fewer people would know. However, with so much going on, I sometimes find it hard to balance my needs as an intern with my duties as an employee.

What I mean by this is that as an intern I should be learning and asking questions to further my understanding. As an employee, I feel compelled to help in any way I can, regardless of what I'm getting out of the tasks I'm asked to do. That's not to say that I don't learn from my tasks, but there are certainly things I want to explore that aren't covered. For example, as the new co-PR chair for the university chapter of Habitat for Humanity, I needed to know some specific info about getting media attention. I know now how to write a press release and I feel comfortable with that, but I still wasn't sure when to send out the release or who exactly to send it to within different media outlets.

I put off asking my boss about this for a while, partially because there were more urgent things to take care of and partially because I just didn't want to impose generally. Finally, I realized I needed to go ahead and ask because there was actually a press release I had to send out for Habitat, it was no longer a hypothetical situation. I wrote my boss a quick email, kept it short and simple, and got the response I needed. In fact, I got a slew of wonderful media contacts that my boss has been compiling for years, "gold" he called it. I've only been given permission to use them for my first press release, but they are priceless.

I also asked to sit down and just chat with my boss about his career path and his current position. He honestly does not often eat lunch because he finds it to be a nuisance. That is how busy the zoo is. But we went and grabbed some sandwiches and he was perfectly willing to answer my questions.

Though your supervisor at your internship may seem intimidating, odds are he or she wants to help you learn. That is why you are an intern! In my case, I know that I am doing immense amounts of work and that I'm unpaid. Sometimes I still feel that I owe something in exchange for the amazing opportunity I've been given to work and learn at the zoo. It really is a fantastic job. But when I sit down and think about it, my boss should definitely be inclined to throw me a bone for all my free, hard work! Anyway, I suppose the moral of the story is don't be afraid to ask questions. Your boss, at some point perhaps not so long ago was an intern or in an entry level position, and if he or she is even mildly considerate, your questions will be rewarded.

Internship Update

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Sorry I haven't added an update for a few weeks here! I have been super busy at work recently, so I thought this would be a good time for an update about what I have been doing.

At this time, my project is essentially finished. About two weeks ago, I had my "final" performance review (since we are a big company with about 80 interns throughout the country, the Human Resources department in Atlanta has to get feedback on our performance from our managers early on so they can decide which individuals will be extended offers for next year). At this meeting, my manager and I discussed how my project was looking and how I performed according to six metrics ranging from "Communicative Abilities" to "Problem Solving Abilities". We decided that overall, my performance was a "Meets/Exceeds Expectations" which I was very proud of. A few days after this meeting I walked my manager through my final layout for the Zone Floor Storage area. He exclaimed that I "did a good job" with it and that he was going to have to move me to another project for my last three weeks. Which brings us to what I am currently working on.
I am currently a "Dock Coordinator" on the night shift (6:30pm-2:30am) which has been a challenging adjustment, to be honest. In this job I have to manage the loading of four trucks going into the trade. This involves making sure the load documents match the loads actually on the truck. So, as product is placed on the trucks, I have to 1) Make sure the pallet is placed on in the right order so the driver is able to offload the right pallet at the right stop, 2) Ensure the right product is on the pallet in the right quantity so we can maintain our "On Time and In Full" metric, and 3) Add the necessary paperwork to the pallet so large scale retailers (Targets, Wal-Marts, etc) accept our delivery. In a nut shell, Dock Coordinators are the last person to check the product before it enters the trade, so it is a very critical position.
So far, it has been a fun challenge to perform the necessary tasks. When orders are heavy, the work becomes very fast paced, trying to manage four different trucks with four different sets of paperwork. Thus, organization is probably the most important aspect of the job.
All in all, it has been a good change of pace for the last three weeks, and I have enjoyed the challenge of the work.

Again, if any of you have questions about Coca-Cola or my experience this summer, feel free to reach out to me at: bluem004@umn.edu

Intern Takeaways

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Hello Everyone! I can't believe we are going towards August now, which means the beginning of the new semester......Let's just stop there because at least we still have one month of summer to enjoy !

You did your internship, you finished your project, you got to know the company a little bit more, but what other lessons did you learn during your internship? I will be talking about couple important takeaways from my internship in this blog post.

Takeaway 1: Communication
It's never too important to address the effective communication in work place. Communication includes face-to-face talk, email, instant message, conference call, etc.When we enter the workplace, most of out projects\assignments will be based on a team structure which means you have to communicate with your team members. How do we be effective on that? Knowing what your objective is and articulate them clearly. Also, be a good listener when other people are talking. I also like to recap when I finished a conversation just to make sure I got the point and I can execute afterwords.

Takeaway 2: Attitude
Frankly speaking, attitude contributes a lot to your further involvement with that particular company. Everyone knows there's a limit knowledge and skill set you have as an intern, but you can have the attitude of an CEO. Always give 100% on everything you are doing shows an excellent work ethics. Be open to opportunities and taking initiatives also display something special on your attitude.

Takeaway 3: Team
Like I mentioned in the first takeaway, team is really important in the corporate culture. Working in a different teams is really common in my company. The advice I can give is taking advantage of every class you take at CSOM. You will learn a lot from the teamwork you did at school and they will benefit you in the future.I learned to trust team members, learn from team members and enjoy the success with the whole team.

Here are 3 major takeaways from my internship with Boston Scientific, see you all next time!

Independence is a double-edged sword

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In both of my internships, I spend most of my time working alone. I talk with my boss a few times a day to ask questions or discuss projects, but for the most part, I'm a solo act. This can be really great. No one is waiting for me at the beginning of the day, so it's not a big deal if I'm a few minutes late, no one hovers over my shoulder making me nervous and I have a lot of freedom in how and when I do things. I feel like a real adult with a real job! Except for the not getting paid part. :)

Here's the problem, when no one tells you when or how to do things, you can get a little off track. Everyone reading this probably does their homework as soon as class is over, goes to bed at a reasonable hour and starts writing that big paper three weeks before it's due, right? Wait, what? You guys procrastinate too? Oh. Well in that case...It's not that I don't work hard or get things done. In fact I work very hard and take very few breaks. My problem is that I procrastinate big or difficult projects in favor of easier, shorter ones.

For example, every summer the zoo hosts an event called the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival. It's a pretty involved affair and the marketing department is, for whatever reason, largely in charge of putting it together. As the marketing department is just my boss and I, there's a lot of work to go around. One of the first things we needed to do this year was pick a theme for the event and plan the programs, flyers and posters around that theme. We chose 'Kizuna: Standing with Japan' in memory of those who died in the recent disaster and in an effort to support those still dealing with the aftermath. Kizuna is a Japanese character that means 'bonds' or 'friendship' and it was my job to find a suitable image of this character to use in our promotional materials.

To my surprise and amusement, when I looked for 'kizuna' in a google image search, I got pictures from an anime show about a gay couple. Clearly that wasn't going to cut it for the programs. I kept searching but the images I found were either low quality or I couldn't tell if they were of the correct character (one of the major drawbacks about planning a Japanese lantern lighting festival when you aren't and don't speak Japanese). Needless to say, I put this job off for a while, basically telling my boss I was at a dead end. My boss is always up to his eyeballs in work and promptly forgot about the task. Eventually I was forced to bring up the issue again and go at it from a different angle.

I ended up finding someone who works with the festival and does speak Japanese. She directed me to a friend of hers who does Japanese calligraphy, and after about a week, eight emails and two trips in the car I had the image to the graphic designer who makes the programs. Though this procrastinated task hasn't derailed the event, it has put us behind. It's always difficult when you are in a position where you never seem to reach the bottom of your pile of work, but it is important not to put off urgent tasks. For me it is often faster and easier to post a new photo album to the zoo's facebook page or file paperwork, but in a department and business as small as mine, each person makes a huge difference and the tasks I complete (or don't complete) have a noticeable impact.

So while it's nice to not have someone looking over my shoulder, sometimes I need to be that person for myself. I need to really consider what is the most pressing task and attend to it as quickly as I can, regardless of how un-fun it may be. This is also a good place to mention that as an intern asking your boss or piers questions is always a viable option. Though your co-workers or superiors may often be busy, it is probably worth their time to help you understand which jobs are most important. Like I said, the work of any one member of a team can and often does greatly impact the work of others.

Expect challenges and over come them

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It has been really hot this week! I can't even breath some time! Well, regardless of the weather condition, I'm still working on my internship with Boston Scientific. As I'm more than half way through my internship, I also face more and more challenges in daily activities, I will devote this blog post to talk about these challenges and how to get over them.

The first challenge is--summer! Wait, what are you talking about, summer? Yes, exactly, Summer! We all know Minnesota is so nice during the summer time(except for the heatwave this week), but how does that impact our work place? Speaking of my experience, people taking more vocations during summer and leaving office earlier in the afternoon. For example, 2 of my important team members have taken a 2-week vocation
in July (they planned long ago) which would slow down the project's progress. I think the response is to prepare for people's absence ahead of the time. For me, I take on side projects when we are short of people and list things my team members need to catch up after they come back.

I think the second challenge is communication. Like my manager said, communication is definitely the key in work place. It ranges from daily emails and to presentation to more than 100 people. Without efficient communication, we can hardly get things done to drive the results. So what can I do as a new intern? My answer is to be proactive, responsive and precise. Being proactive shows you have a good attitude to communicate, being responsive can result useful feedback and being precise can get things out clearly. My suggestion would be practice these skills while you are still at school. Things like writing email to professor or communication between class project team members can be a good arena to train yourself to be a effective communicator.

So here are the two things constantly challenging me through my internship, I will be taking about the valuable lessons I learnt from my experience with Boston Scientific.


Don't hurt yourself :)

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This summer I was pleasantly surprised to find that I LOVE my internships. I tell everyone I know about them and I find myself checking their facebook pages even when I'm not at work. I am a classic high achiever, as I know many of you are, and though I encourage everyone to find a job that they love, I have a small caution as well: don't over do it. Something that I have found about myself now that I'm in a "real" business work environment for the first time in my life is that I have serious workaholic tendencies.

Many of you will find yourselves driven to do your absolute best, especially if you like your job and your boss. Of course you should work hard and commit to your position, but it's important to understand the difference between 100% and 150%. For example, yesterday at my zoo internship, I had a list about a mile long of things that needed to be done. I definitely needed to take a deep breath :) One thing that I had to do (and am often asked to do as a marketing intern) was to post several video clips to different websites.

I am currently almost wholly responsible for marketing the edible garden exhibit at the zoo. First of all, I needed to record and upload footage from a presentation that was given in the garden. I also needed to share a video of the garden that was posted on a local news station's website. Sounds pretty simple...until you can't find the cord for the camera, can't get the computer program that runs the video to cooperate, can't upload the video on several sites because it's too long and realize that the video needs to be posted on two facebook accounts, a twitter account, two blogs and two web pages. Two hours later, I finished that job and was asked to go to a meeting to discuss details for an upcoming fundraising event. So ended my day.

Needless to say, I didn't put a big dent in my giant to do list, and I felt a little guilty. A similar situation occurred a few weeks ago at my nature center internship, and I actually went home and worked for an extra hour or two because I felt I needed to make up for unproductive time. Here's the thing: it's summer, my positions are unpaid, I did my best while at work and it would have taken my boss just as long to finish the job. My boss at the zoo actually asked me one day at around 4:00 pm "Aren't you supposed to leave at 3:30?" Don't create expectations that don't exist, and don't feel that you need to do everything. Your employer has agreed that you put in a certain number of hours a week, and s/he won't be disappointed if you don't put in an extra five.

Internships are for learning job skills and preparing for an actual position after college, and if you start a workaholic pattern now, chances are it will carry over into your career. In short, work hard, do your best but don't hurt yourself.

What do I do everyday?

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Hello Everyone! Sorry I was a little bit late this time because I went to a road trip to Rushmore during the July 4th weekend. It was an amazing experience and also a good relaxation during my internship.

As I said before, I will talk more about my internship with Boston Scientific. I'm working in the Sales & Marketing Pillar under the whole Info Systems group of Boston Scientific. More specifically, I worked in a team called Sales & Mobility which aims at using mobile technology to boost the sales of our products. My main project is part of the creation of Boston Scientific's own app store(right, like the App Store you are using on your iPhone!)

A very popular 1st job for a Carlson MIS graduate is Business Analyst. That's also what I'm doing in my current internship. It involves a lot of interviews, system requirements gathering and defining the business process. Analytical skills and communication skills are equally important because we have to face different people and "computers". For example, the 1st assignment I did in my internship is to compare the current process of downloading an app to our ideal future process. Sometimes the work like this can be very ambiguous and challenging but that's the point of achieving, right?

One important suggestion I can give you is taking IDSc 3202 if you really enjoy working with technology. You will be surprised how different the real business technology world is. This class has great teacher and it will teach you lots of important skills. Personally, I benefited a lot from this class.

If you want to learn more about my internship with Boston Scientific, feel free to email me at dingx094@umn.edu. See you all next time!

My Experience

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In the Supply Chain & Operations major, students can expect to have a multitude of different options available for internships. Examples include: Sourcing, Warehousing, Distribution, or Production Management, as well as many other areas.
So I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain what my project is for this summer:

As I explained in my last post, I am interning for Coca Cola in Cincinnati, OH in their "Product Supply" department. Specifically, I am working in the warehouse to develop a process that manages the receipt and storage of goods transferred to us from other Coke facilities that we will hold in inventory and distribute (e.g. Powerades, Vitamin Water, any glass product, etc.). This process is important because mismanagement of inventory for a food company can lead to out-dated product within our warehouse which results in us having to scrap the product and swallow the accompanying dollar loss.

In order to complete this project, I have had to spend the past 5 weeks learning about our supply chain. This has involved job shadowing all of its aspects, from the workers at the "Back Gate" (where trucks enter our property to drop off product) to the Bulk Truck (semi truck) drivers who deliver the product to stores like Target and Wal-mart.
Additionally, I have had to spend a considerable amount of time learning the current product-receipt process. As it stands today, there isn't a process per se. The forklift drivers who off load the trucks have the ultimate say of where product is placed, and there is no rhyme or reason to where that product goes in our warehouse.
This factor is what I have keyed in on to change. My plan right now, is to re-layout the warehouse to follow a "product zone" structure, where the product lines have their own unique area (e.g. the Powerades are all in one section, Vitamin Waters in another, and so on) so the forklift drivers know where they should be looking for spots to place product.
My next few weeks will be spent re-organizing our warehouse to fit this structure and then managing the placement process to ensure that it is functional.

I hope that I did not overwhelm anyone with the information above!
Remember, if you have any questions about the Supply Chain & Operations major or what kinds of internships are available for students in the major, do not hesitate to contact me at: bluem004@umn.edu