Friday, August 8, 2014

Women Communicating in the Workplace; An Intern’s Perspective

 By 'Liz Lewis

During the course of my 10 week internship I’ve observed how people have interacted with me not only as an intern but also as a woman.  At my previous workplace, I was the go to gal, when there was a problem, I’d be vocal enough to get it fixed, unlike many of my Japanese counterparts.  I began to think that I was good at communicating.  I decided it was best to be direct, to the point and clear.  After all, it’s hard enough to communicate in a second language so why waste time being ambiguous or subtle. 
'Liz Lewis ( MBA Class of  2015, Corporate Innovation & Management Major)

Having not worked in an American workplace in more than a decade, as well as being an intern, I wanted to take a step back, see how things were done in my new environment.  I’ll admit I was a little disappointed.  I began to do a little research into the topic of how women communicate in the American workplace and came across this article by Sophie Johnson of Demand Media.  - How a Woman Can Improve Gender Workplace CommunicationI watched and interacted with many of the women and men in my workplace and found a lot of what she said to be true.  Do you agree?  The question also came to mind of why should it be a woman’s responsibility to adjust to the men’s norms? 
What I found more interesting, after some reflection, is that many of my fellow female classmates already follow many of the suggestions made in the article, but that many of my current colleagues do not.   So how do we, as professional women, encourage other women in our workplace to better communicate, not only with our male colleagues but also with each other?
Over the last few weeks, more and more questions began popping up.  Do we use this knowledge when we are networking or when we are interviewing?  Should we approach male interviewers differently than we approach female interviewers?  And the list goes on and on. 
I’d love to hear about your experience with communicating in the workplace.  Leave a comment and let’s get an open discussion going on this topic.

Friday, July 11, 2014

You’re Always Networking, But Sometimes It’s Even Enjoyable

Written by: by Hannah Kay

I hate networking. I think all of my friends at Kelley could tell you that, because I’ve told them so at least once. It feels artificial and strange to me, like I’m feeling my way through the dark with traps around every corner.

It’s not really so bad, but during the school year, it always felt that way. Somehow, I networked enough to land a great internship. Once the internship actually arrived, I was surprised to find out that I was expected to set goals for myself for the summer. Most could be modeled after the goals for the department, but I needed at least one personal goal. I knew that even though I had the internship, I would still need to do a fair amount of networking in order to get the job offer, and I knew how I felt about networking. So I decided to make that my personal goal, setting on paper specific goals for networking so I couldn't avoid it.

Hannah Kay
(MBA Finance Major & MA in Russian and East European Studies, Class of 2015)

Networking within a company that has already given me an internship in a leadership program where networking is strongly encouraged seems suddenly like a logical step in the process instead of an idea that makes the introvert in me quake. I’ve set a goal and I’m working toward it. Every week I’m meeting with different people within my department to get to know them, what they’re doing, and what they’re hoping to do once they graduate the leadership program. They’re great resources for contacts within the company, both graduates of the leadership program but also upper level management.
I’m also realizing that networking takes other shapes as well, some more tied to the company culture than others. I’ve gone kayaking and played volleyball with coworkers. An IU alum is hosting dinner at his lake house in a few weeks for interns and alum, and I am very excited. A few weeks after I started, the company had an intern immersion day where we were introduced to the company and other interns through speakers and competitions. I certainly gained a new appreciation for engineers as we set about making a fan-powered car. My department took an entire Friday to enjoy a networking event with leadership program alumni that consisted of riding and driving cars around test tracks. Before that day, I don’t think I’d ever truly appreciated the joy of working for a car company or seen so many beaming smiles at work

Kayaking with Coworkers can be fun

Getting to know the people and culture also matter a lot to me now. I’m working hard in order to get an offer at the end of the summer, but I’m also evaluating if this is where I want to be in a year and in five years. Conversations are easier now that I have an understanding of the company from the inside, and I’m bringing value to the organization, which makes networking feel dramatically less unequal than before. Realizing I can’t avoid it, I’m learning to embrace networking, and it’s helping me make the most of my internship experience. That doesn’t mean I won’t be nervous on Wednesday when I have an informational interview with a Director in Supply Chain, but it does mean I’ll be able to laugh off my terrible kickball skills when our league starts on Tuesday.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Finding the Right Fit for You by Ashley Blair

In any internship, you have to consider how well the organization fits with your values. It’s like a 10-12 week date and a tremendous opportunity to get a feel for what your future career could potentially look like. Just as you are looking for certain qualities in your first date, you should also be looking for certain qualities in the place you intern. Apologies if I am bringing back buried memories of awful first dates.
Ashley Blair
(MBA Class of 2015, Finance & Corporate Innovation Major)
Everyone has their own criteria, so you just have to think about what really matters to you. Here’s an example. I have a strong interest in healthy living and being active. The organization I am interning for was named the healthiest employer of its size in Indianapolis and the 5th healthiest employer in America. The organization has a program called “Step it up” in which you can buy a discounted Fitbit and compete with coworkers for prizes based on your activity. Now when I go to meetings I am greeted with “you mind if we take the stairs? I need to get my steps in!” The ubiquitous Fitbits are paired with regular group walks on the canal, no full-sugar sodas in the machines, healthy food options in the cafes, and a variety of additional resources to take advantage of. We also spent our day of service revitalizing city parks to encourage kids to get out and play. These things really stood out to me and showed me that the organization truly cares about and makes an effort to encourage employees and people in the community to live well.
 Luckily you don’t have to spend a lot of effort crossing criteria off your list; you just have to look around and think about what matters to you in and outside of work. It also helps to do a little research in advance – recent news articles, rankings, etc. in the areas of your interest. And whether you find the perfect fit or not, rest assured there are plenty of fish in the sea.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get my steps in.

Ashley(right) and Rohun Rangnekar (MBA Class of 2015)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

GLOBASE Ghana: My Experience

Esmeralda Delgado 
(MBA Class of 2015, Marketing &Management Major) 
Written By: Esmeralda Delgado

I vividly remember during my fourth grade geography class in Mexico, the teacher played African music in the background as he lectured about African descendants in Mexico due to slave trade, a concept very difficult for me to understand at the time. But what was clear to me was that I felt the beat of the music in my core. It felt as if the music was calling my name, triggering my desire to visit Africa. I then wondered what it would take to get there. The teacher mentioned that the people that made it across the ocean at the time endured many hardships through the very long journey. That day, I went home and asked my parents about the farthest place they had ever been. With the responses they gave me, I Iooked at a world map and things did not look very promising. I then concluded that visiting Africa seemed only  possible in my dreams.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with many life opportunities and I was excited when I got the chance to visit Africa by doing a consulting project for a non-profit organization through GLOBASE Ghana. My dream to finally visit Africa became tangible for the first time as our team kicked off the project by doing a Skype interview with our client in Accra. We certainly did not play African music in the background; however, I immediately felt a connection and was able to easily start building a trusting relationship with our client.
Even though communication was difficult due to technology failure, time zone differences and reciprocal business culture unfamiliarity, I did not let difficulties get in the way of giving this project my all.  During the first seven weeks at the end of each virtual meeting with our client I pushed to learn more about the project stakeholders, the organization and the Ghanaian culture overall. I was motivated by the fact that many could benefit from a well implemented recommendation or could be harshly affected by the lack there of. Additionally, having been exposed to both Mexican and American culture, I’m very well aware that what works in one culture may not necessarily work in another.

Keeping this in mind eventually helped me while in country to maneuver through the cultural concept that Ghanaians in business and in general do not like being disagreeable, it may even be considered disrespectful. Ignoring this could have been a major hurdle as our team and I developed a recommendation for our client. We could have ended up with a recommendation that our client superficially agreed on but would not care to implement. To avoid this, we decided to conduct interviews that would give us perspectives from different vantage points. For me, interviewing each person was a chance not only to help me piece together a recommendation but also an opportunity to experience Ghana through a different window, a different perspective. It gave me a chance to see the world through the eyes of the person in front of me and I found this connection fascinating. 

After dozens of interviews and several long work days, the week culminated with a final presentation to our client. Our team and I were able to merge what was ideal and feasible. And I’m very proud to say that by asking the right questions we were able to come up with a recommendation that generated a lot of interest and got word from the board members and the director that first stage recommendation would be immediately implemented.

Our final presentation was followed by a celebration. The entire group went to Chez Afriqué, a lively place where locals enjoy listening to music and dancing in an outdoor setting.  Sitting down surrounded with classmates, friends, and locals; I looked around and realized that this time I could not only feel the music in my core just as strong as I did that day during my fourth grade geography class. This time I could also feel embraced by the heat in the air, the friendship pact made between my client, Bridget and I, the amazing experiences gained through long conversations while in country and the smiles of the beautiful and welcoming people of Ghana. It was bittersweet to learn that one week had already gone by, but I looked forward to a second week full of endless opportunities to continue discovering the country. I could not have asked for more.