Embrace Your Strengths: Discovering Ways to Exercise Your Strengths at a New Company
Blog Post written by ELP Student Alison Prendergast.
The greatest lesson I learned from this summer was: “your greatest strengths can also be the areas in which you hope to most improve on.”
As my internship progressed and I started to contribute to a variety of tasks, I soon began to realize that communication, team collaboration, and initiative-taking were truly where my strengths lay. This was not a mystery to me as I had always felt these skills came more naturally, however, it was not until this summer that I felt proud that I was able to utilize these skills that I had spent years developing properly.
Throughout my college career and job search, I had always felt in the back of my head the innate pressure to have concrete technical skills that I could offer a company, startup, etc. However, I now know this is not always the case. Like anything else, I found that companies need every piece of the puzzle when it comes to people who can provide technical and non-technical backgrounds to their organization.
This summer, I worked at Huron Consulting Group as a healthcare consulting intern. Prior to this internship, I had worked at various healthcare startups including Thistle, Workit Health, and Aunt Flow in their growth marketing divisions. Because I had always enjoyed working for later-stage startups where you were encouraged to think on your feet, invent the wheel, and contribute cross-functionally, I was a bit nervous to work at a larger firm in a role that was new to me.
As the internship start date approached, I could feel myself getting more and more nervous about the work I was about to be doing. Questions raced through my head including: will I be able to deliver what they are looking for? What were they hoping for when they hired me? Why did they hire me? Was it a mistake? I was soon able to recognize that this external bias that I held around having a technical background was creeping into how I was viewing my internship, ultimately causing me to have imposter syndrome.
After joining my project team with Huron, I had an expectations conversation with my supervisor that immediately eased my nerves along with this sense of imposter syndrome. She openly shared with me what the company expects from analysts from 0-6 months, 6-12 months, etc. Although my immediate reaction was that I did not want to fit into this “cookie-cutter mold” that they had built for everyone, I soon realized that it was nice to have a roadmap of what was expected of me throughout my project and time with the company. I grew to really appreciate this streamlined structure and discovered ways in which my strengths could help me to exceed and develop beyond these expectations.
At the end of my internship, my manager and I had another open conversation surrounding the ongoing feedback she had given me throughout the summer. It was here, where she repeated and called out what she saw as my strengths and told me that these were areas that I could still continue to work on and be stronger at as I take on more roles.
Another final piece of wisdom that I will hold onto was to always take note of what I like and don’t like in managers that I work with so I can be sure to replicate what I liked one day as I will most likely have to manage people at some point in my career. I was very grateful to learn more about my strengths throughout this internship along with ways in which to have productive conversations surrounding feedback and expectations.
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