Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Successful Internships #1: Game Stop

This is the first in a series of three posts exploring what makes an internship successful for both the intern and the employer.

Terrell Wyatt, Game Stop

    When I first met and interviewed with Ronald and Steven, as with all of the interns I’ve interviewed, both appeared to be students who realized the value of the internship program and held themselves accountable for the mistakes they have made which cause them both to be placed in Olympus Academy.

    While interviewing Ronald, I had asked him, “What happened in his previous school that caused him to be placed in Olympus, and what did you learn? Ronald replied, “I was cutting class and too busy worrying about hanging out with my friends and I didn’t care. I learned that friends aren’t really what I thought they were, and school is way more important. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t have cut class and hung out; I would’ve stayed in school and did my work…”

During the interview, Ronald seemed to be humbled by my questioning, because (as he would tell me in a future discussion) he didn’t expect me to ask him questions about his behavior nor his academics, he thought that I was merely going to ask him about video games. For a young man his age, Ronald showed a maturity that was quite “refreshing”. His poise led me to believe that he was heading in the direction of taking hold of his life and not becoming distracted or detoured from not only his academics but his long-term goals.

    Throughout his internship, Ronald has always displayed a drive and desire to learn, that was unprecedented. I’ve worked with other organizations, with previous companies, that had an internship program, yet Ronald was an intern that constantly motivated himself. What also makes Ronald stand out from my other interns, is his consistency to want to learn more and take on more responsibility. From the day I brought him aboard, Ronald has always expressed the desire to want more from me and my management team, way before he even thought he would be brought aboard as an actual team member. In addition, Ronald was never “shy”, his personality, in many ways, reminds me of my own. He’s smart, witty, knows how to convey himself without being disrespectful, knows how to humble himself when necessary (when dealing with a disgruntled customer), and he’s a quick learner. I even ask Ronald about the strengths and challenges of my other staff members, and he’s currently trained two other interns. He’s definitely, a very valuable member of my staff, and Ronald will be trained to possibly become one of my key holders.

    Steven was a little more challenging. While interviewing him [Steven], I had asked him why did he tattoo his name on his hand? He said, he didn’t really know, but he thought it was “cool” at the time. As with Ronald, I had asked him, what did he do to end up in Olympus Academy, and his reply was quite similar to Ronald’s. Unlike with Ronald, I asked him, why should I hire you? He said, “You should hire me because I’m gonna do my work to the best of my ability and I won’t mess up.” Steven and I continued to speak and he revealed that he wanted to go to medical school. We conversed about the academic requirements along with the amount of determination needed to achieve his goal, and he said he was ready. Although the content of Steven’s answers were somewhat “robotic”, Steven seemed like a young man who needed a shot at redemption from his previous antics.

    In the beginning, Steven didn’t appear to be as focused. He seemed as if he was just there to make a few extra dollars and didn’t really care about the internship. He never did anything wrong per say, he did  whatever was asked of him, but because he is a more reserved individual, I wasn’t too sure if Steven was going to make it to the end of the program. In fact, he was almost terminated from the internship because of his tardiness. After I spoke with him, he quickly began to change. He started coming in on time, and being more engaging in discussions about product and what it is that I expected from my interns and the rest of my staff. It wasn’t before long, that I offered him a more stable position, with GameStop.

    Since he’s been aboard as an active team member, and not just an intern, Steven has become a very good and reliable employee. He’s become self-motivated and now he’s helping train an intern as well. Now that Steven has, “come out of his shell”, he’s proven to be a young man who wants to be a part of GameStop and possibly take his position to the next level. He’s has remained consistent with his performance and his eagerness to learn new aspects of the business.

    I initially didn’t know what to expect going into this internship program with Olympus Academy. I’ve worked with interns before but I never worked with interns so young. Partnering with this program allowed me the opportunity to lend a “brotherly” helping hand to students who may not have been able to get employment with GameStop, any other way due to the common stigmas attached to teenagers who are, or were, heading down the “wrong path” and retail (the possible lack of maturity, and the challenges of balancing school work with employment).  Several of my peers were initially apprehensive about bringing interns into their stores due to the previously stated factors, coupled with possible theft issues. I immediately accepted this challenge because I always welcome new challenges, especially ones that help our young man, seems there aren’t enough programs tailored males who are seeking a change but aren’t sure of the right approach or what direction to take.

    I certainly am appreciative that Ms. Green asked for my services. I’m enjoying the program so much, that I’ve personally partnered with one of my good friends, and together we are developing our own program that will “coach” our young men who may have made a mistake in their short lives, or who are headed in that direction.... I am currently developing the job development portion of the program, which will offer resume writing, and helping students convey themselves articulately on paper and during interviews.

From: Ronald Phillip

What I like about my internship?

1.     The things I’ve liked about my internship was that they taught me things I’ve never learned before.  Also, they treat me like a real worker which I am now.  The other thing is that working helped me out by being more relaxed with customers.  Without the internship I wouldn’t have a job as of right now.  So I am glad there is a program in our school for us that we could better ourselves.

2.    What did I learn from my internship?

 I learned how to have better conversations with people and how to deal with people with attitude.  Also, I learned that you have to dress presentable so you can make your job a success.  Last is when you’re working in retail you gotta know how to talk.

How will my internship help me in the future?

3.    I think the internship helped me in the future because it got me a job, made me learn new things about working experience.  Without this internship I wouldn’t know what to do.

 But I do want to thank Ms. Cynthia Green for providing this well thought out program to me because this program is a success.  I never wanted to work or go to school until I heard of Olympus Academy and the internship program.  So I, Ronald Phillip, just wanted to say thank you to Ms. Green and the program for helping me be someone in life.

From: Steven Pierre

What I like about my internship?

1.     What I like about the internship is that the people make me feel comfortable and make me learn what hard work is that what I liked about the internship.

What did I learn from my internship?

2.    I learned the meaning of dedication and hard work and how to present myself at work.  I learned how to keep my personal life from my work like.
How will my internship help me in the future?

3.    It helps me in the future by teaching me how to keep my job and shows me how to present myself at work.

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