By Theresa Reinhard
This summer I was a Consultant Intern for IBM Workday Consulting Services. I can honestly say that the experience was transformative and I mean that in every sense. As I reflect on all the wonderful people I met and skills I’ve gained, it’s hard to believe the internship only lasted 10 weeks.
By way of background, Workday is a cloud-based ERP system that changes the way organizations perform HR and finance activities, and makes those professionals more strategic contributors to the business. Late last year, IBM acquired Meteorix, a boutique Workday consulting firm, and the new IBM Workday practice now consists of more than 400 consultants with expertise across a variety of functional areas.
What I Did
The other five interns and I began the internship with a week-long training course in Workday Human Capital Management fundamentals. We developed a general understanding of Workday and how it’s revolutionizing the world of HR and finance. After that, we were off to IBM’s downtown Boston office. During orientation, we learned the significance of the acquisition and what it meant for IBM Global Business Services. The other interns and I were eager to get started.
I spent the first half of the internship in the Boston office, while some of the other interns headed off to Sydney, Australia, and Budapest, Hungary. While I was admittedly a bit jealous of those on exciting international assignments, I was happy to stay close to home, where I had the opportunity to shadow a certified Workday consultant in charge of coordinating a large global testing project. I sat in on meetings, prepared presentations and updated data logs.
I was thrilled to participate in a project that involved collaborating with clients from 10 countries to ensure testing occurred in a timely and high quality manner. Throughout this experience, I learned first-hand the rewarding and challenging aspects of managing such a time-sensitive, complex and dynamic project.
For the second half of the internship, all the interns headed to the Somers office in NY to assist with testing the Workday system across a variety of functional areas: compensation, benefits, recruiting, etc. I loved that we all had the chance to travel during the internship. It was a great way to experience the “consulting lifestyle” and bond with the other interns. We rode around in a mini-van and went out for a delicious dinner every night after work.
Whenever I told my friends about my internship and what I was doing, they were understandably in awe. I excitedly kept them in the loop about all of the office happy hours, special events and traveling experiences. They couldn’t believe that a company would invest so much time and energy in their college interns. Before the internship started, I didn’t believe these experiences were possible either! The other interns and I were always hopping on planes, meeting new people and gaining exposure to a disruptive and exciting software. One of my friends, rightfully so, referred to the IBM internship as “the dream.”
My Transformation with IBM
Before joining IBM, I mainly struggled with two professional weaknesses: networking and completing work in an efficient manner. First of all, I am a bit quiet and guarded when meeting new people, and was very apprehensive about actually being able to form meaningful relationships within the IBM office. I was put into so many social situations time and time again during the internship and I became much more confident in this area.
Secondly, I consider myself a perfectionist and like to ‘take my time” when it comes to completing tasks. At previous jobs, I would often take work home and spend extra time on it before sending to my manager. At IBM, there was simply not enough time in the day to mull over tasks and projects. Because of that, I was forced to improve my efficiency. Whether it’s by asking questions right away or learning new formulas on Microsoft Excel, I discovered a new way of working that saves time and even improves quality. Although it was not always easy to confront my weaknesses, the growth I experienced was 100% worth it.
Advice for Future Interns
Because my transformative experience here at IBM was so positive, I want to share some advice for future interns.
- An internship is not only a way to gain valuable work experience, it’s a perfect opportunity to understand what the company does, who works for it and what it stands for.
- Spend some of your free time learning about what the company is doing beyond your team or department.
- Make time to develop meaningful relationships with anyone and everyone you can. Immerse yourself in the company’s purpose, values, and practices.
Every morning this summer when I put on my IBM badge, I felt proud to work for and represent a company that is so well known for its integrity and has an outstanding commitment to its clients and employees.
This summer made me a better person in so many ways. When I graduate next year, I hope to continue my journey as a full-time IBM consultant. I’d love to work closely with clients and share my new passion for Workday and IBM’s practice with them. Then I can pay it forward, and play a role in bringing about transformation at their business too.
Theresa Reinhard is a Business Management and Psychology student at Simmons College in Boston.
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