Pitt-sburgh Stop!

My third and final traveling experience had finally arrived. Myself and the 11 other sales interns sat in the Reynolds and Reynolds Penske room and guessed where we would be placed. The destinations this round were Detroit, Baltimore, Hilton Head, Dallas, Pasadena, Saint Louis, San Diego, and Alexandria. I was told I would be traveling to Pittsburgh and Dallas to shadow Matt, an account executive, for the week. Given the distance, I was unsure how the week would work, but I was given a day-by-day schedule to review. My first stop was in Pittsburgh, but we also needed to visit a rooftop in Dallas as Matt oversees dealerships across the country.

I woke up early Monday morning and arrived at the Cincinnati airport before the coffee shop was open. I sat and waited for the first flight of my busy week. At this point I had become accustomed to early mornings in the airport. Monday morning went by in circles; board, fly, land, repeat. Finally, I arrived in Pittsburgh where Matt picked me up. The first thing I noticed about Matt was he was full of energy. He occupied our car ride by asking me about my ambitions and questions I had for him. We soon arrived to our first dealership where I met another Matt who works as a field marketing professional at Reynolds. Little did I know I was about to spend the week with two Matts I would never forget.

We went through our workday in Pittsburgh and prepared for Tuesday where we all three flew to Dallas. I learned that airports are a great place to get to know your co-workers. Despite our favorite sports teams, a Cincinnati Buckeye fan was able to get along with fans who root for Penn State and the Steelers (yikes). We shared stories about how we found Reynolds, and I admired their long-term commitments to the company. Collectively, they had been working at Reynolds and Reynolds for over 30 years.

Throughout our time in Dallas, we bonded over the intense outside heat. It reached 110 degrees one day! Both Matts took me out for Tex-Mex and we spent the entire trip in each other’s company. One thing I’ve noticed about Reynolds employees is they know how to laugh. We joked around with each other throughout the day, and it made my time all the better. As our trip came to a close, it was difficult to say goodbye. But the beauty in today’s world is we are able to connect through LinkedIn and stay in touch. Who knows, maybe one day we will work side-by-side again.

 

(Above: Pittsburgh, Below: Sky over Dallas)

San Antonio: Road Work Ahead

After my first trip to Tennessee, I could not have been more excited to hear where I would be placed next. Just like the previous group meeting, myself and the 11 other sales interns walked to our Penske meeting room and sat in anticipation of our next placement. We went through a slide deck one-by-one. It was quickly revealed that I would be sent to San Antonio, Texas! The other locations this round were San Francisco, Chicago, Orlando, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Nashville. Our coordinator did a great job of matching us with locations we had never seen before. Following our meeting, I went to my desk to send an email to my account manager in San Antonio.

While I prepared for my second trip, I felt more confident because of my experience shadowing an account manager in Tennessee. I am a person who strongly believes the best way to learn how to do a job is to actually go out and do it. I believe this hands-on experience is what sets Reynolds and Reynolds apart from other companies. This is my fifth internship since the beginning of my college career. I have never experienced such a real-life view of what my future career could look like through my internship experience. The sales internship here is for someone who is willing to push themselves outside their comfort zone. I have been able to speak with my company’s vice presidents and car dealers that normally wouldn’t have time to speak with a college student. Keep in mind that Reynolds and Reynolds has thousands of employees; this is not something to brush off. They genuinely care about their interns here.

In regard to my experience with the account manager in San Antonio, Ragan, it was incredible. She is the account manager for a region of Texas, and her dealerships are HUGE. It was like looking into a sea of cars whenever we pulled up. I was glad to shadow a woman for my second trip because I was curious about whether or not gender affected the way dealers work with their Reynolds representatives. When I entered this internship, that was my number one fear, will the auto industry be disrespectful towards me? Ragan took the time to discuss this with me and explain her perspective. This was helpful because she had been with the industry for around 10 years. Through our discussion and my experience in dealerships I was pleasantly surprised. At the end of the day, dealers didn’t care what I looked like, they just wanted to improve their business.

Reynolds and Reynolds has a, “work hard, play hard” mentality. Ragan wanted to make sure that I had time to experience San Antonio. My favorite excursion was when she took me to a newer district called The Pearl District. We got to know one another, and I was sad to go. My second trip was a success! When I returned to the Dayton office, I anticipated hearing about my third placement.

Accidentally a “Wagon Wheel”

A paid internship is great. A paid internship with three travel experiences is irreplaceable. During my forth week at Reynolds and Reynolds, we had a meeting with a territory reveal. The sales interns and mentors all met together while we anxiously waited to see where we would fly off to. Reynolds and Reynolds sends all of their sales interns to different locations across the nation. The reveal would show us where we would go for a week and which account manager we would be shadowing. We sat in the Penske Room in anticipation. Most of us were hoping to be sent to California, but I was personally excited to go anywhere! It was revealed that I would be shadowing an Account Manager in New Orleans. I immediately thought of the jazz music I’d hear along the way. But then, life had other plans. I received a call on Sunday afternoon that I wouldn’t be traveling the next day because my Account Manager had a family emergency. I went into the Dayton office feeling a strange sense of loneliness as my 11 peers were traveling to their destinations. That loneliness was soon filled by my proactive coordinator’s news. She had been working all morning and found an Account Manager who was willing to let me shadow him with less than a day’s notice. I left the office and was on the way to Johnson City, Tennessee!

I felt like I was living the life that my favorite song, “Wagon Wheel,” describes. I flew into North Carolina then continued through the Cumberland Gap into Johnson City, Tennessee. I would be lying to you if I said that I didn’t sing to myself once or twice.

Life has a funny way of working out. My mom grew up in the Tennessee area that I was traveling to, and I took a photo with her childhood home during my stay. My roommate during the internship went to ETSU, and I was able to visit her campus as a part of my stay. The mountains, bright skies, and white clouds are still present in my mind. Plus, I was able to try some amazing Southern-style dishes. The ability to see the country while working is my ideal career, and Reynolds and Reynolds provided that opportunity.

While in Tennessee, I learned a lot from my Account Manager, Lance. Our day started at 9 AM when Lance picked me up at my hotel. He introduced himself and gave a thorough overview of his role with Reynolds. He constantly asked me, “What questions do you have?” and took genuine interest in who I was. He divvied up our days so we could spend time at Reynolds’ accounts and our competitor’s accounts. I was able to talk to car dealers as an intern and understand the process that could be my future career. The most important part of my day was discussing takeaways with Lance, he gave excellent advice and encouraged me to be introspective during our sales calls. One of the best pieces of advice he gave me was to listen with the intent of understanding. This is true in sales and life! If we learn how to actually listen to what people say to us we can take the time to understand how to improve their processes and their life.

My advice when it comes to interning:

  • Take the initiative to see the world, even if that means interning somewhere that isn’t your hometown
  • Understand your comfort level when it comes to location. Reynolds has interns drive to Dayton from all over the nation. Luckily, we get to live together in an apartment complex. Ask questions. Does your future internship have paid housing?
  • If you travel, download all the apps and stack up points!
  • Explore the city you are in. I’ve found a lot to do in Dayton. My favorite place is The Oregon District.
  • If you’re interested in sales, definitely check out Reynolds and Reynolds!(Above: The view as we drove to different car dealerships)

(Above: A local restaurant with amazing key lime pie)

(Above: A local brewery called Yee Haw Brewing Company)

Destination: Internship

The spring semester of my junior year became crunch time as I navigated through interview after interview. I had three incredibly unique interview experiences, and I would love to take the time to dissect them here. We will call them Retailer #1, Retailer #2, and Reynolds and Reynolds.

 

Retailer #1:

I met Retailer #1 at the OSU Career Fair where they became immediately interested in me. A recruiter and I hit it off, and she signed me up for an on-campus interview for that Friday. I was ecstatic, but incredibly nervous because I only had three days to prepare. That Friday morning, I arrived in Gerlach Hall 15 minutes before my interview and sat with shaking hands. I kept looking at the clock as the minute hand slowly shifted. Unfortunately, it kept shifting until it was over 15 minutes past my interview time. About 20 minutes past the time, my interviewers came out to retrieve me, frazzled and apologetic for being late. We walked to a private room and conducted an interview, an incredibly uncomfortable interview. The next day I received an email that I hadn’t been selected for the job, and that they could give no feedback. It was a difficult experience to feel powerless, but I moved on in my internship search.

 

Retailer #2:

I found Retailer #2 online, and sent in my application. They responded within one week and asked me to complete a second application. I filled out the information, wrote an essay, and heard back by the end of the month that I had been selected to proceed to the video recorded interview. Retailer #2 conducted their interviews with no person on the other side! For my video interview I was prompted with seven questions. Every question was presented on my screen for 30 seconds, and then I had to record myself answering for two minutes. The scary part? There was only one take. What I said was permanent and would eventually be judged by their recruiting team. After the interview I felt confident in how it went and hoped to hear back. After two months of no responses, I emailed the recruiting office saying I had another offer. Retailer #2 never responded to me.

 

Reynolds & Reynolds:

My interviewing experience was transparent from beginning to end. I found Reynolds and Reynolds through OSU’s database, and became interested in them because they had an amazing internship reputation. After doing my research, I thought it would be incredible to work in B2B (business to business). I sent my application in through email. In less than three days I had a response. No, not a computer-generated response, but a person at the other end. She sent me a link to a video about previous interns’ experiences and requested that I filled out a few forms. Two days later I was prompted to complete assessments that would gauge my credentials and cultural fit. The most daunting part was an hour-long aptitude assessment, but if anything, it proved how seriously internships are taken at Reynolds. After I passed all the assessments, I had a Skype interview, took another aptitude test, and then had a final Skype interview to finish off the process. I was required to take a drug test, and was offered an internship the day my results came in. In retrospect, all I can say is wow. I accepted a position with Reynolds because their interviewing process was systematic and intentional. I was constantly aware of my status, and the recruiter knew me by name. This meant more to me than any company could ever know.

For the struggling student climbing through interviews, I offer this advice:

  1. Be aware that you are also interviewing the company. Their actions reflect their business.
  2. If you have a bad experience with a recruiter, pick yourself up and keep striving for success.
  3. Don’t be afraid to reach out about the status of your application.
  4. Practice being on camera. Many recruiters are gravitating towards Skype and online interviews.

Start Your Engines! Week One

My first week at Reynolds was a huge switch up from my college schedule. There were no more 3 hour gaps in-between daily activities. I was nervous to navigate a busy work schedule, especially in a field I’d never experienced before. This was the first time I was working from 8 until 5. It was also the start of my professional story. Butterflies were fully present in my stomach as I walked through the entrance way into Reynolds. Luckily, I was paired with two other interns who lived with me in a community near Reynolds. We carpooled and embraced the first day in unison.

The internship started with introductions and a brief overview of what we should expect over the summer. I wrote down a few goals in my notebook: 1. Learn the corporate culture. 2. Develop professional business acumen. 3. Remember that this experience is on-the-job interviewing. That’s a phrase I heard all week, “On-the-job interview.” I believe it’s incredibly important to remember this as an intern. You are representing your school and yourself in every conversation. This isn’t meant to scare you. Let this inspire you! And most importantly, don’t be afraid to step up in your role. It can be as simple as writing articles about your experience. On the flip side, you are also interviewing the company. Embrace your experience, but be realistic. Ask yourself, “Do I feel comfortable in this role?”, “Would I enjoy working with this group 5 days a week?” If you’re lucky enough to say yes to both, you may have a bright future ahead of you.

The best part about my first week was seeing the passion Reynolds has for interns. No matter their ranking, people stopped by and asked me my name. My cubicle was decorated with an Ohio State flag, personalized business cards, and my own Reynolds name tag. I was paired with a mentor in the Fixed Ops department and we started our relationship by having lunch together. The culture here is definitely work hard, play hard. Employees are constantly on the go, but know how to relax by joking around and possibly joining one of the many sports leagues or service excursions.