Photo of intern Jacob Robinson (he/him)
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I have had an incredible eight-month experience working for A Leader Like Me, under the guidance and mentorship of Priya Bates (she/her) and Advita Patel (she/her). For future interns and entry-level communication professionals, here are five valuable lessons I’ve learned during my time here:
- I’m thinking tactically AND strategically
Research methodologies, writing skills, content calendar creation, social media management systems and media relations are some essential tactics for a business communication intern to have, understand and apply. However, going above and beyond just the tactics really opens your mind to the big picture, and how the moving parts really come together. Through #ALLME, for example, I helped initiate, plan and execute our high-level one-year anniversary campaign in recognition of our great community, and also took the initiative to represent and discuss our brand at a professional development panel hosted by the IABC/Toronto SCC.
Through the #ALLME experience, my fit and readiness to take on future leadership roles have been strengthened considerably.
One technique I’ve found particularly useful is placing myself in the shoes of the co-founder. For example, if I were leading, some questions I may ask include:
- What problem(s) are we solving and why?
- What do people need?
- What must we do to achieve our objectives, both short-term and long-term?
- What tools and KPI’s will we use to measure progress and success?
- Who are the key influencers in our space and what do they do well?
- How can we continuously improve our offering(s)?
- What changes are happening in the internal/external communication landscape. Where? Why?
- What can we do to strengthen our bottom line?
- What do we do to make our programmes and value delivery resonate more strongly with our target audiences?
Asking such questions ties in well with the next lesson, which is...
- I’m honing my entrepreneurial spirit
Business communication success often requires out-of-the-box thinking and curiosity. From day one, my ideas as an #ALLME intern were always respected and valued. I encourage readers to take a similar approach in your work. Hone your entrepreneurial spirit by first writing your thoughts down on paper, then building on those ideas. Talk with others and get feedback where appropriate.
Remember: A great project starts with a great idea (initiation), followed by planning, and then action (execution). Monitor progress every step of the way, and keep what works and drop what doesn’t.
In post-secondary PR programs, we’re often taught the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. Go one step further and ask about the ‘why’ too (e.g. Why should our target audiences care? What’s in it for them?), then connect the dots.
One great way to connect the dots? See point 3…
- I’m centralizing resources
In internal communication, time is money. If you want to cross items off your to-do list with more effectiveness, efficiency and excellence, make sure you know where items are and how to access and share them with the team. Centralizing resources helps team members pull them more easily and conveniently.
At #ALLME, these resources included our Drive folders and Canva.
Being intentional with your filenames and subject lines also helps immensely. When you receive a push notification on your phone, you’re more likely to open and read it when its contents are clear.
The connectivity of our #ALLME EDI/EDI resources also made lesson 4 possible, which is…
- I’ve gained a real EDI/EDI experience
The global #ALLME community Advita and Priya have built is truly extraordinary. From the exclusive Mighty Networks to personalized coaching, the value in this warm, inclusive environment cannot be said enough.
Members of our #ALLMECREW have gone on to do amazing things, a further testament to the effectiveness of Priya and Advita’s expertise and approaches. From winning awards globally to upgrading their credentials and becoming more confident in their presentations, our #ALLMECREW continues (and will continue) to shine bright.
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- I share ideas in meetings now more than ever
Have you been in a meeting where you were prepared to share great ideas and content…but chose not to share them out of fear of perceived judgement? So have I, but I believe this fear lives in just our heads. We talk a lot at #ALLME about breaking out of our comfort zones, part of that is getting into the groove of ‘doing.’ Exposure therapy works wonders, and I believe the more we practice, the more we grow.
This approach will not just benefit you, it will also benefit the teams and organization(s) you’re working with.
Bonus: The OOI Framework
Priya once shared a particularly relevant framework during a Poppulo session that has stuck with me: outputs, outcomes and impact (OOI).
Outputs are what you do and deliver.
These can include delivering a conference, website or webinar, publishing a blog post or setting up a new internal repository.
Outcomes are how the outputs help the organization or business achieve its goals and objectives.
For example, greater awareness and engagement with the team’s digital content, improved trust and reputation, and valuable time-saving when a team member conducts an internal query.
Impact is how the organization, community and stakeholders (internal and external) benefit in the end.
Benefits can be qualitative and quantitative, and can include increased organizational revenue, a growing community of brand evangelists and real mission realization.
In summary: The Outputs, Outcomes, and Benefits framework is so simple, yet so effective for creating value for stakeholders and clients. Use it wisely!
I’ve had an incredible eight-month experience working for A Leader Like Me, and will be taking and applying the lessons learned from our community to future gigs. Also super chuffed for the great #ALLME projects ahead, including reading Priya and Advita’s upcoming book upon its publication.
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A Leader Like Me is an empowered community that supports underrepresented people to build courage and confidence in their work so they can continue to thrive. Our Nest Community is a safe and supportive environment for women* of colour. It includes monthly Insight Sessions to provide information and inspiration while our monthly Group Coaching creates a needed space for members to share their challenges and opportunities, failures and success authentically with leaders like them who share their workplace experience.
For more about us, visit: https://aleaderlikeme.com/
*We welcome non-binary and transgender people of colour who can relate to and benefit from the women-of-colour experience.