This week I am finishing up my internship program with General Motors. The offboarding process has been a great opportunity for me to look for areas of feedback as well as look at the review process within GM. I have really had a good experience with this position and it has given me a lot of insight into what I will be looking for in a full time position.
My position had me working in a very interactive team environment while working cross-functionally to gather information regarding my project. I have really enjoyed this because it allowed me to get to know many different areas in my department in only a short period of time. I also got to work in an area that required a lot of fast-paced problem solving. This kept everyone on my team on-their-toes and engaged during our projects and really helped us to take ownership of the initiatives we were able to implement.
I have also really enjoyed the culture here at GM. GM is a very relaxed environment where employees are free to come and go more flexibly, as long we get our work done on time. The relaxed dress code and encouraging atmosphere helped to make me a lot more comfortable and more likely to ask questions and to speak up during meetings. This also made me a better presenter and allowed my true personality to show throughout the summer. I think that the work culture of a company really shows what the company values. GM clearly cares more about the work that employees are accomplishing and less about adhering to historically business-appropriate constraints. I believe that this modern view of the workplace makes GM stand out as a company that I would want to work for.
For those of you looking for your next internship or your first full-time position, I would strongly suggest you look into the culture of any company you look at. These things to me are just as, if not more, important than other areas of the business. I have had a great opportunity this summer to work in a global team and in a cross-functional environment. Now I’m looking forward to relaxing prior to the start of classes this summer, and I hope you all have a chance to do the same!
One of the perks of being an intern at a company with a large, well-developed internship program is the various events that are organized for you. Hopefully you’ve been able to enjoy a few activities outside of your daily work in the office. Below is a sample of the events that I have been able to participate in during my summer with General Motors.
- Grand Prix: Every year GM hosts a Grand Prix event in downtown Detroit. This event showcases several automotive companies in a series of races over the course of an entire weekend. At this event I witnessed pick-up trucks hurtling over jumps and got the chance to sit in a Corvette Racing car. One of our more glamorous events to say the least!
- Plant Visits: Being a company that manufactures both parts and vehicles, GM has multiple plants across the globe. I have been able to visit an offsite warehouse location as well as the assembly, stamping, and body shop plants for seven different vehicle platforms. The technology at these locations was amazing and seeing the entire production process really helped me visualize how the different parts of our supply chain come into play on a daily basis.
- Recess in Detroit: This event was by far my favorite event of the whole summer. My entire intern class was given a tour of Detroit to give us some perspective on the city in which our company is headquartered. We were then placed on teams to compete in a scavenger hunt throughout the city. While my team did not win, I learned more about Detroit in one day than I had in the previous 20 years I’ve lived near the city.
This week, the week before the Fourth of July, is the week before many General Motor’s locations close down for a week for the annual North American shut-down. This has meant that after the past few hectic weeks of work, things have been winding down as many people have been preparing for their upcoming vacations.
This slow-down has allowed me to start thinking about how GM operates, specifically how the many different forms of leadership and management come into play within this large company. From what I have gathered through my observations and from what the other interns have told me, I think there are a few different forms of management that all interact within my office. Some managers are very hands-on. They work directly with team members and constantly monitor project progress. Others are a bit more lax, leading from afar but still maintaining high expectations of the performance of their team. Finally, some have teams so large that they are forced to be quite hands-off. All of these styles seem to work flawlessly, it just appears to depend on who makes up the teams being managed.
In a large company such as GM, people are traveling around the globe to various locations, plants, and/or suppliers everyday and it can be difficult to keep track of the actions of every team member every day. I think it has been very important to the growth of this company for the leadership teams that run the organization to give employees the proper space that they need. Some people need to be tightly managed while others need to be able to work things out for themselves, it is vital for managers and directors to be able to see this difference and to lead accordingly. From what I have experienced, this is something all of the leaders I have interacted with at GM have been very good at doing.
Over the next few weeks of your own internship begin to consider the type of leadership styles you have experienced throughout your current, and past, role. Also think about which type of style you prefer; this may be something to look for in your next job and it may be how you choose to lead in the future. You never know!
This week I am finishing up my fifth week here at General Motors and have arrived at the halfway point of my internship program. Time has gone by so quickly! I’ve finally finished all of my online trainings, I know what time to get to my building to get a good parking spot, and I have found which vendors sell the best food at lunch. Things have pretty much all fallen into place…
I feel that after the past five weeks I have finally started to get a grasp on the overall organization of GM and my department, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, as a whole. People have begun to recognize me in recurring weekly meetings and I have started to contribute helpful information to the project teams that I am a part of. I am beginning to gain a solid grasp on the inner-workings of GM’s international organization structure. I have felt that at this point it has become important for me to begin to contribute to projects and meetings instead of simply sitting idly by listening in on team conversations to learn as much as I can about the areas we operate within. To anyone working in a heavily team-oriented environment I would highly suggest that you do the same as soon as you can in your own internship position.
Next week will mark the start of a global workshop that my team has been preparing for since I started. This workshop will bring together members of the logistics team from every region that GM operates in. I have been looking forward to this workshop as it will be a great opportunity to witness international business in person. Throughout the week we will be compiling a list of global standards and requirements that will define how our entire outbound supply chain operates. I will be in charge of presenting during two days of this workshop, and although I am very nervous, I am excited to put my work on display in such a large scale.
Over the next five weeks I am looking forward to delving into the current projects I have been given while also searching for cost savings opportunities at the assembly plants I have been assigned!
Four weeks into my internship it seems that each week is a cycle with the same meetings and events occurring each day. Mondays are days to catch up on events that occurred over the weekend, Wednesdays are days to get work due at the end of the week completed, and Thursday/Fridays are time crunches to meet end-of-week deadlines, but Tuesdays are a hectic time in my position. Tuesday is a day, early in the week, to bring together global and local teams to identify action items that need to be completed. The following gives you a glimpse into my typical Tuesday.
5:00 am: Wake up
6:30 am: Arrive in office to prepare for the day
7:00 am: Global internal-team conference call
8:00 am: Regional supplier conference call
11:00 am: Project review with Department Director
12:30 pm: Working lunch with team
1:00 pm: Local team meets to plan upcoming global workshop
2:00 pm: Off-site meeting with internal, cross-functional team
4:00 pm: Leave office for the day
As you can see, working in a large, global corporation puts you in contact with employees from different areas of the world, as well as different functional areas within the business, all day long. It can be quite challenging to keep all of the various groups straight, so I have found that it is extremely helpful to keep diligent notes during all of these meetings. This way I can keep track of which teams are responsible for what and the different functions that each team has the jurisdiction to perform. Becoming quickly familiar with all of the individuals in these teams has given me a wide range of contacts to reach out to during my assignments throughout the course of my internship. Be sure to make a point in the beginning of your own internship to get to know as many people as you can, you never know who you’re going to need help from down the road!