July 31, 2015

INTERN REPORT: Transformation is a process

Prafful Patel, MBA candidate, holds an internship position with Nationwide, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

“Transformation is a process, not an event.” This quote from the famous change management guru John Kotter summarizes the most important learning that I have taken from my experience working at Nationwide. The company is going through a huge transformation and is replacing its legacy policy administration systems with a packaged software solution. It is huge because the company has decided to put about $9 billion worth of its business on a package system. The company has always been apprehensive to try a packaged solution in the past and therefore it is even more significant. The project will be completed over a period of six years and is an important milestone in the insurance industry as it will encourage/force other players to move away from using their old systems.

Nationwide, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, was founded in 1926 and today generates close to $31 billion in revenue. I attended the National Black MBA career fair in September 2014 and interviewed for my current position at the Nationwide booth and was offered the internship position on the same day. I had an option to choose between Columbus and Cleveland and I chose the former as the entire leadership sits at the Columbus office.

On the first day post our orientation we were all received by our managers and taken out for a lunch where I was introduced to the team and the projects I would be working on. My director who also interviewed me at the MBA fair had recruited me for his project. He has a team of project managers within a division called Delivery Services, an internal consulting arm of Nationwide IT that assigns project managers and requirements analysts to different business units.

A typical day involves juggling work on three different projects that I have been assigned to. The main project assigned to me involves project management work where I am managing and building an information portal that is used to disseminate vital information to the entire organization to help them build their knowledge of a key piece of the organization’s IT strategy. My work includes going through the strategy material and making recommendations on how best the strategy content can be communicated through the portal, presenting my findings to the AVP and other program managers and managing design meetings with all the stakeholders.

The second project involves work on Nationwide’s tier 1 project, which is implementing Guidewire’s Policy Center. I am shadowing the requirements lead on a part of this huge project as a requirements analyst intern.

The last project involves work with the Organizational Change Management team for my department where I am helping another manager to establish a standard framework that can help us effectively communicate any Organizational Change Management information.

While working on our projects we also attend the leader speaker series and information sessions organized by HR every week. These sessions are very beneficial in understanding what the leadership thinks about the company and the industry in general. There are social events planned by the intern committee every week where we explore new places in Columbus.

Nationwide is pretty big on networking and encourages associates to take the time out to develop those relationships. The leaders are always open to having a coffee or lunch with associates and discuss their work and opportunities within their business area. I have been fortunate to have met more than 20 leaders from different business areas during my internship and take their advice for my career at Nationwide and outside of it.

Nationwide as a company also encourages a lot of volunteer work and is known as a brand that closely invests in the local community. Nationwide’s children hospital and partnership with Feeding America are just a few examples of the company’s involvement in the community. As interns, we are encouraged to register for volunteer hours from the several available initiatives. I volunteered at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and helped them with the Garden Maintenance work.

As the internship comes to an end in two weeks I delivered my senior speech last week, which gave me an opportunity to portray my internship experience in front of the senior leadership. I have worked for close to six years in the technology space in similar roles before but what set this experience apart was the deep insurance industry knowledge that I gained from an industry leader.

July 17, 2015

INTERN REPORT: Communication - It's Not What You Say...

Rachel Escobar, MBA candidate, holds an internship position in internal communications with Philips, located in Highland Heights, Ohio.

My boss and I connected from the very start. During the interview, he explained how he, too, had begun his career outside the corporate world. He recounted his gratitude for that first boss who gave him a shot and paid me the same favor. He could see that I was ready for something different, something bigger.

I was a communications manager for a small nonprofit in the mountains of North Carolina before I came to Weatherhead. Philips called the Weatherhead Career Management Office and asked if they had any students with a background in communications; they referred me. After a couple of phone screenings with Philips, I met my boss and sealed the deal. I started in January, before the spring semester started, and worked approximately 27 hours per week until May, when I switched to full-time.

I was able to survive the learning curve during those first few months on the job and once I became full-time, I was ready to go. I had to learn new systems, new mediums, new people and new information to communicate. Now, I am able to focus more on content and less on delivery. A typical day involves writing, compiling, organizing, and formatting content for some form of communication with Philips’ employees. That could be in the form of an email send out, website update, town hall meeting, or executive presentation.

One of our major projects has been the compilation of our site’s major news into a bi-weekly bulletin. Instead of inundating our audience with several one-off emails each week, we’re training them to expect the information every other week. Those who wish to communicate information are also learning to give us their story sooner rather than later so it can go out in the next bulletin.

Design is a huge part of communication. There’s an old adage that it’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters. When the communication is written, that adage could be adjusted to mean, it’s not what’s written, but how it looks that matters. We need to convey our content quickly, and design helps us do that well. Visuals, such as diagrams, graphs, photos, and videos, also assist in capturing the attention of our audience and ensuring retention of the information. It has been a pleasant surprise how much creativity has played a role in my day-to-day work.

My boss has called me a “super co-op.” Even though I’m not a full-time employee, he has given me the responsibility and autonomy any regular Philips’ employee would hope for. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve at Philips. My mission: To continually look for ways to improve how I provide employees with the information they want and need to do their best work.

If you are a Weatherhead student or alum seeking assistance in your job or internship search, visit the Career Management Office (CMO) for services including coaching, resume reviewing, mock interviews, workshops, career fairs and a variety of networking opportunities. Follow CMO on Twitter: @weatherheadcmo

July 1, 2015

4th of July Events Around Cleveland

We're in the middle of summer here at Weatherhead, which means we're about to enjoy one of Cleveland's (and America's) favorite weekends: the 4th of July. No matter what you're interested in, this weekend is full of fun activities throughout Northeast Ohio. Get out there and explore Cleveland! Here are just a few of the events happening around town over the next few days:

July 1 Cleveland Orchestra's Star-Spangled Spectacular
An annual Cleveland tradition. Grab a blanket and lawn chair and head downtown to hear one of the best orchestras in the country perform a free concert followed by a fireworks show.

July 1 - 4 FIREWORKS!
No matter where you live, there will be a fireworks show nearby. Check out the link above for a full schedule of all the area fireworks shows over the holiday weekend (including the downtown Cleveland fireworks over Lake Erie on July 4).

July 1 Wade Oval Wednesdays
A free outdoor concert right in our own backyard every Wednesday in the summer. This weekend enjoy reggae music from Carlos Jones & The Plus Band.

July 1 - 4 Rib, White & Blue: Akron's National Rib Festival
Check out Northeast Ohio's biggest 4th of July rib festival while exploring downtown Akron; music, food, fireworks and fun!

July 2 - 3 Lake County Captains take on the Lansing Lugnuts
The Cleveland Indians may be out of town this weekend, but you can check out a great minor league baseball game out in Lake County. Fireworks will follow the Friday night game.

July 3 - 5 40th Anniversary of Jaws
Cleveland Cinema's Cedar Lee Theatre will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original summer blockbuster, Jaws, with screenings of the classic movie. Tickets only $6!

July 4 Red, White & Brew Music Festival
A 4th of July party at The Greater Cleveland Aquarium! Check out some Aquarium exhibits, live music, drinks, food and a great spot for the City of Cleveland’s fireworks.

July 4 "A Salute to America" at Blossom Music Center
Enjoy an outdoor concert of patriotic music performed by the Blossom Festival Band, followed by fireworks.