|By Kate Marciniak|
This summer I was an employer engagement intern at a financial technology startup company called Squirrel in London, England for two months. The team consisted of about 10 people which was very unique in that I had direct contact with every ‘department’ of the company within one room. I was given large responsibility from the CEO to brainstorm, plan, and execute new plans on the marketing and sales fronts. My professional skills were tested in each of these areas for projects I worked on for the company. I was able to successfully bring on new customers and companies to the platform through my growth plans. The environment of my internship was conducive to my ideas and projects and I’m grateful for the experience to be able to play such a crucial role in a company at my age. My leadership skills expanded much more that I could have imagined as well. From holding company meetings to present my projects and reporting on my research of competitors and growth strategies, I have matured and am confident in my abilities to conduct myself appropriately in a professional setting.
I learned so much at Squirrel in the fast-paced environment of the financial technology startup world. My team was knowledgeable and welcoming that it motivated me to push myself to produce the highest quality of work for the company. I have grown tremendously professionally and personally through the experience of immersing myself in a completely new city, home, job, and culture.
I lived in west London with two roommates who both attend different colleges across the US. When I arrived on the first day, I was slightly nervous to meet the friends I’d be living with for two months. It was a very unsettling feeling to know I’d be in a city, essentially alone, unless I made friends and made the most of my time and internship. Not only was I able to adapt to the cultural aspects of London, but I was able to explore beyond this city to different countries nearby.
Through this experience of going abroad to intern at a fintech startup company, I have gained more knowledge about the world I live in. I have gained a sense of independence knowing I am able to live on my own and thrive in a completely new environment and country. I have also become more socially and culturally aware. I have learned how to research different cultures and be appropriate in conversations and professional situations. I have learned to adapt and keep an open mind in new situations that I was immersed in almost every single day.
Being so far away from family, friends, and home it was difficult to adjust at times, but I have learned a lot about being independent and self-sufficient across the world.
Through having constant access to the CEO to bounce ideas off of and innovate new growth practices, I was able to see his critical thinking as the leader of Squirrel. By observing and interacting in this environment, I was able to see how to motivate people to do better. Successfully delegating tasks, handling multiple personalities, applauding work, and criticizing practices in an approachable are examples of leadership skills I observed. Working under great leadership taught me skills I want to emulate as a leader.
The personal and professional experience I gained from this summer is priceless. I am extremely grateful to have earned this opportunity and am proud to bring my skills back to the University of Michigan.