What an amazing summer it’s been

As an intern in American Family’s sales business technologydepartment, the first couple questions my coworkers ask me are where I go to school and what I’m studying. After my answers (BYU and public relations with a minor in business management), the question that naturally follows is:

“Utah? So how did you start at American Family?”

My reply usually is, “I’m from Wisconsin.” (It’s true; I have the accent to prove it.)

However, the real answer is more than that. I was interested in learning more about a company I had grown up with (just tell me that you can’t say “American Family” without singing the jingle in your head!). I was even more interested when I interviewed and got a taste of the corporate culture here and projects I’d be working on.

Now that my internship is coming to a close, I’m thinking about what an amazing summer it’s been. I’ve been involved in several projects that ultimately help make American Family’s agents and agency sales managers (ASMs) the most technologically enabled sales force in the industry .

I’ve spoken with many agents, assistants and ASMs about their concerns, questions and ideas. I’ve attended meetings where this feedback is evaluated and where new projects are planned. I’ve supported technology efforts with social media, communication and mobility and I’ve seen how departments are brought together to work toward a common goal.

I honestly didn’t expect to have a summer that was this great. But the team I work with is incredible and my coworkers always took me seriously and treated me with respect. In some companies, interns are akin to gophers. Here, however, I’ve been treated like another valuable member of the team. I’ve actually been able to do things—lead things—and affect change. And I’ve learned so much along the way.

In closing, I’ll share with you some intern-ly advice:

1. Get to know people. A friend once told me, “Learn what people love. Then love what they love, and they’ll love you.” It’s amazing what listening and taking an active interest does. Networks increase, doors open and people are willing to work with you.

2. Ask questions—and be willing to learn. This is your time to learn! However, the best—and most impressive—questions are those that are asked after you do some research.

3. Don’t be afraid to share something new. In speaking with interns, Executive Vice President Brad Gleason said, “You bring us visions that we don’t see every day.” You might have an idea that is revolutionary, but if you don’t share your innovations, the company can’t benefit from them.

One last bit of advice: Get excited—and invested.

Excitement really is contagious; when you’re passionate about something, people listen. Just as it’s hard to sell something you don’t care about, it’s difficult to be a hard worker without caring about your company and your place in it. Interns can see American Family’s vision just as much as a veteran employee.

Internships are really what you make them. Part of it has to do with choosing a company that fits with you (and that doesn’t just mean the hours and pay, but the culture and values the company stands for.) The other part is up to you: how you support the company and inject your personality and ideas into projects and tasks. Who knows? You might be just the person American Family was looking for.

** Beki is a communications and business student at Brigham Young University. She interned in the sales business technology department of American Family Insurance during the summer of 2011. She loves social media, traveling, writing, music and a lot of other things. You can see a snapshot of her at about.me/bekiwinchel.

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  1. […] interned at American Famiy Insurance in Madison, Wis., this summer, working in the Sales Business Technology Department and honing her skills in technology consulting […]

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