When I began my MBA applications nearly two years ago, I recall many students stating the most surprising part of their MBA experience was how well they got to know themselves. Knowing this, I am not surprised that personal learning has played a significant role in my experience as a ZS intern. With the support of my team and my professional development coach, I’ve come to better understand my strengths and weaknesses both as a young professional and contributing member of the team.
From the beginning, my team showed incredible patience by not only answering all of my questions, but also explaining their implications. Whether it was a question about healthcare, Excel or PowerPoint formatting, every question was answered in great detail. In addition, my team took initiative by randomly stopping by my desk or messaging me to make sure I was comfortable with all my tasks. As I’ve progressed within the project, I continue to evolve in my role and I’m even beginning to answer questions for others.
When I met my ZS mentor, we discussed the difficulties of jumping into a project that had already launched in a new industry. During our discussion, she advised me to do two things: ask questions and know what I bring to the table. The questions part was easy—I had questions about everything. However, knowing what I bring to the table encouraged more self-reflection. How could I contribute to a team that has been on the project for months when I couldn’t even pronounce all the words on the slides? However, after continuing our discussion, I identified several pain points that I could help alleviate. I could keep the project organized. I could analyze outputs from a new perspective that changed how we approach metrics. And most simply, I could be available to help my team. By completing these tasks, my learning curve accelerated, and I was contributing to my team’s success before I even realized it.
During a meeting with my professional development coach, I experienced another pivotal moment in my self-discovery as a professional. After hearing my background–specifically, how I utilized data in my prior job to make recommendations to clients—my professional development coach offered me a valuable piece of advice: “Have a hypothesis when you start analyzing data or you’ll get lost.” At the time, I didn’t realize the gravity of this advice. However, after analyzing more than a hundred interviews, I can personally attest to how easy it is to get lost in data without an outlined hypothesis. I feel grateful to have a professional development coach who was available throughout my internship to identify my blind spots, offer worthwhile advice and ultimately set me on the right track for success.
Looking back on the first half of my internship, I can confidently say that my support system has not only kept me afloat, but also helped me thrive. By heeding their advice, I can continue to grow both personally and professionally.
This post was written by Addison, an MBA student at Yale School of Management. This summer, he’s interning at ZS’s Boston office.