For those of you who don’t know about my recent job with SIE(Scottish Institute for Enterprise) as the Intern for the University of Glasgow; here is a small introduction to the small but powerful force inspiring entrepreneurship across Scotland. SIE aims to make enterprise and entrepreneurship accessible to all students and recent graduates in Scotland through events, competitions and bootcamps. As an intern, I was expected to demonstrate flexibility, initiative and creativity to make the most of the opportunities available by being an active and visible entrepreneurial ambassador of SIE and related organisations. Following an exceptional year at Glasgow through activities and competitions I arranged, I won the Intern of the Year Award. A month or so after getting that award, I’m sitting down to reflect to the most important lessons I have learnt from this job. I hope you enjoy reading them!
1- Some feelings are Priceless
The best feeling in the world is when you are able to make people discover and appreciate abilities that even they were not aware they had! When I ran idea generation games- the science and engineering were always surprised and excited by how creative they were in coming up with cool ideas. The trick was always to make a game that made business sound fun. Something everybody could try their hand at. For instance, take an event where we gave pairs of students coloured paper, tape, and scissors and asked them to come up with a perfect purse/wallet for the other person according to their specifications. Whether the wish wallet was asked to have GPS tracking, invisibility cloaks or millions of pockets, it was amazing the kind of wallets the students were able to make.
2- Set the stage and then as Guy Kawasaki puts it, ‘Enchant’.
Lead with empathy and confidence. Tone, demeanor and a genuine approachable personality is fundamental in making others like you and listen to you. You cannot motivate and inspire others if they do not like you. Motivate others just as you motivate yourself; it is so rewarding! Never let go off the enthusiasm. A energy-deprived, smile-less tired face makes noone enjoy your event/company. Fact. Full stop.
3- Sometimes letting others shine can be the brightest part of the day for you
Taking the back seat once in a while and letting them shine has been a great achievement for me because I am used to being in the limelight but to see the benefit of it to them, it has been so revolutionary for me. Through the work that I have done as an SIE Intern, I have learnt how to value the advice of others especially my manager who has the wisdom of experience while also convincing her to include something I want to do. I have truly learnt the value of letting others shine and enjoy that as a credit to you. It is so nice to see someone who was perhaps not so confident at one point about their belief in their abilities to blossom under your guidance.
4- Collaboration is key.
Collaborating with similar communities or completely random communities can be an exhilarating and fruitful experience because there is so much you can learn from each other. Similarly, though the contacts you make from these events might not be extremely relevant to what you want to achieve, they might surprise you with who they know. It’s a mutual benefit- always. Students often think they can be of no benefit to professionals- au contraire. Always be humble and eager to learn but confident in your own social value. From helping people to find venues to your insights of students and latest trends, you can be at the heart of all the action without knowing it.
5- My personal favourite: Always take the Initiative
Does the phrase ‘stand out from the crowd’ dazzle you with the vagueness of how many people say that without telling you how to do that? Well, here is the answer: Take initiative. If you think you have a good idea- pitch it. If you are not sure your idea will be well received(negativity is sadly still very common in teams) then go ahead and do something(research/survey/tweet/newsarticle) to prove to your manager/team that your idea is good.
6- Clash of the titans
Often you will find a group of leaders(good and bad) can find it extremely difficult to be honest with each other and divide responsibility to get tasks done. It is a fact. It happens. Best way to deal with it? Do your job- and do it well. People will see notice and appreciate it- if not to your face, definitely behind your back ;and this time, it is actually a good thing because it allows people to say what they really want to say without putting themselves in an awkward position.
7- The Golden Rule: Get Organised,
Two things I learnt from my wonderful manager this year- It is more important to be approachable and relatable than anything else; Plan well ahead! Always have a Plan B and never forget that if things do go wrong (as they always do!), then you are the only person who knows that. Individuals not involved in the organisation will not know what you had planned so improvise with confidence and don’t stress out.
8- The power of networks.
Use social media and be a powerful networker. It is essential you learn how to do this; be it through mimicking or simply following your gut instinct. Shadow powerful networkers from wherever you are standing and see how they interact with others. Or simply, go upto them and ask them to share some tips! I have used the SIE network on so many occasions and it has never failed to benefit me. Use your existing networks to find opportunities for yourself. Sometimes, a tweet/facebook update asking people in your network if they can help you with a speaker/idea can be the quickest way of getting back an answer. Recently, I put out a tweet asking if anyone would be kind enough to take a look over my changed CV and within 2 minutes, I had a very kind reply asking me to send it over from someone I had only been introduced to a few days ago on twitter. The fact that he spared some time to provide some feedback on it was so touching! People are nice- really, don’t expect the worst from people. As I said before, take the initiative.
9- Never forget to follow your own advice
Talk about being creative, and yet your own technique in attracting student is as dry as the lectures you fell asleep in? This is far too common then it should be. Break away from the mould and follow your own advice. Take charge and shake things up with new ideas. If you are short of new ideas, use the internet and people in your team as inspiration! Get everyone with their thinking caps on(facebook/twitter status-questions work too!)
10- Always reflect
Take feedback and note it down in an online notepad and use that to overcome personal shortcomings and accentuate qualities that you didn’t know you had.