Diary of an Intern: Recap of Week 3

I just finished up my third week at work and in many ways I feel like I'm just hitting my stride. One of the big things I worked on this week was solidifying what my summer projects will be. When I started at ABC it seemed like I had an endless amount of time to collect a bunch of different projects, but in reality I'm only going to be there for 10 or 11 weeks. So one of the first things I worked on this week was really narrowing my focus and making sure that the projects I've taken on can actually be accomplished.

I spent a lot of time this week focusing on two areas specifically:

1) Preparing the communication materials to roll-out the company's corporate giving platform to the leadership of ABC's satellite locations. This meant that for much of the week, I put my MBA powerpoint skills to the test by creating process flow diagrams and using lots of smart art (my classmates would be so proud).

There are a couple of important points that this communication plan needs to convey. First, we need to educate the leadership at these locations about the types of organizations that, as a unified network, ABC will give money and product to--and more importantly, why. The corporate giving committee at the company has worked hard to establish a focus and purpose for its giving, and now it's time to make sure that everyone not only understands the reasons behind these choices but also follows them. Second, we're trying to explain the various ways that these locations can actually support causes in their communities, especially through product donations. Product can be donated locally by that specific ABC location or by an individual employee working at that location, and the guidelines around the types of organizations that can receive product from the company versus an employee are slightly different. So, outlining that process and making sure the location leadership understands how this works is crucial. Interestingly, since this information is coming from corporate, we're also trying to be sensitive to the fact that these locations were presumably managing all of this before these formal guidelines were established. The tone of the communication pieces, therefore, has to be focused on raising awareness and educating location leadership on our new giving platform, without sounding like we're trying to do their jobs for them.

2) The other project I focused on this week is our employee volunteer program expansion. Right now ABC partners with two local organizations, The Greater Boston Food Bank and The Plymouth Area Coalition for the Homeless, to provide regularly scheduled employee volunteering options. While these are certainly worthy service opportunities, one of my projects is to grow our volunteer program to enable individual employees and department teams to nominate their own volunteering ideas. Although this does include building the system (presumably on the company intranet) that would allow employees to easily suggest their volunteering ideas, a big issue here is that not all employees actually know that they are eligible to participate in the program. So my work here goes beyond setting up the intranet "architecture" and once again moves into communication and education (a theme that actually runs through all of my summer projects at ABC).

One volunteer opportunity that I'm especially excited about is a potential collaboration with another local company to send employees from both companies to work with Outdoor Explorations, an organization that "makes the outdoors a welcoming place for people with disabilities." It's a very worthwhile cause and I think ABC employees would really enjoy a day of working with these folks. I'll keep you updated as the volunteer day takes shape.

In addition to working on these two main projects, this week I also attended a local United Way annual meeting and awards luncheon. For the second year in a row, ABC was honored by this United Way chapter for its financial support (including its annual employee giving campaign), volunteerism, and community committment. It was really exciting to attend this event and to see ABC recognized for its dedication to the communities in which it works.

Finally, ABC runs a fairly well-developed intern program during the summer boasting a number of speakers from different functional areas in the company. Since all of the summer interns are now on board, this programming has begun. I had two events this week: the first was a sensory training (learning all about how people use their senses (taste, smell, etc) when consuming our products), and the second was a tour of a local plant to see one of our products being made. The sensory training was interesting, but the tour was outstanding. My fellow interns and I donned our protective hair nets, hard hats, safety goggles, and white smocks (picture coming soon!) and got an insider's look at how ABC makes one of its best selling items. I don't know if anyone watches that show, How It's Made, but I swear it was just like our own personal episode!

All in all it was a really fun week and I'm excited about the progress I've made.