Ten weeks to build trust: what a look east internship taught me

Growing up on a cattle ranch in northwest New Mexico, my summers consisted of helping my parents on the ranch or traveling with 4-H and FFA. This summer, I was fortunate enough to have an internship with Look East. I was drawn to Look East because the mission to build trust in agriculture aligns with my personal passion for connecting with consumers. The past 10 weeks opened my eyes to the possibilities within communications and helped to realign my career aspirations. It is impossible to put into words everything I have learned this summer but there are a few lessons that I am sure to take with me throughout my career. 

look-east-intern-internship-katelin-spradley-teamBe prepared for new experiences. 

I have never been a lover of coffee but college helped to introduce me to the occasional “cup of joe.” My first day in the Look East office everyone ordered coffee and I tried a new drink. Be prepared before coming in to your internship or job – be prepared with questions, an open mind and a positive attitude. Not only will that set you up for success, you’ll discover new things about yourself, as well as new favorite coffees. 

Ask all kinds of questions. 

Internships are like a class outside of the classroom. They present the perfect opportunity to try a career while gaining some real-world experience to leverage down the road. I tried to take every opportunity to learn as much as I could. Look East did a great job of encouraging my questions and constantly feeding my curiosity.  

Asking good questions related to work was imperative, but asking questions about people’s lives can be just as important. I saw the value of getting to know people because outside of the knowledge gained, the connections I made are just as, if not more, important. Look East values their team members as actual people with important lives outside of work and encouraged me to do the same. Ask co-workers about their weekend, their career paths, their children, their dogs. I found little nuggets of information and inspiration everywhere I looked. 

Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t be afraid to say yes. 

I will never forget one of my coworkers telling fellow intern Julie and I that it is okay to tell colleagues no. She shared that if you have too much on your plate and people keep piling on the projects, it is okay to say you do not have the capacity. Everyone at Look East works hard and knows what it is like to be busy; they will not think any less of you for managing your time wisely. It may seem scary to tell someone no but the consequences of not getting a project done could be much more detrimental. On the other hand, do not be afraid to say yes. Look East made it very clear that this was my opportunity to learn and I always had the support and resources needed to take on any project. Just because I do not know how to do something does not mean that I cannot learn. Never think something is over your head. You might make a mistake but that does not mean you cannot learn from it. 

Speak up. 

I am naturally a quieter person, especially in new or unfamiliar situations. This internship has taught me that it is okay to speak your mind. If someone asks for your ideas, share them. The title of intern never seemed to limit my involvement in projects. The team at Look East consistently asked if there was anything more I wanted to be involved in and made every effort to accommodate my requests. They enjoyed helping us succeed, so seek out and take advantage of every opportunity you can. 

Go to the happy hour. 

Besides happy hours, there were lunches and one-on-one meetings that the Look East team coordinated. I learned that if you have an opportunity to go to events outside of work, do it. This is a great opportunity to connect with people outside of work and that translates to more connections. Networking doesn’t come naturally to me, so it was a great benefit to build those connections now and Look East definitely helped me to expand my network. 

Take ownership. 

If you did something great, do not be afraid to own it. At the same time, do not forget to give credit where credit is due. Everyone has their shining moments and you should be proud to share those with people. At the same time, if you make a mistake, own it. Everyone makes mistakes and avoiding addressing them is only going to make it worse. The Look East team is very supportive of each other, but they also hold each other accountable. I learned to take ownership for the good and occasional bad. 

Use your weekends wisely. 

Before this summer, I had only been to Kansas City for a couple of conferences and this was my first time living in a large city. Exploring the town has been one of my favorite parts of the experience. I also love hearing stories about what my coworkers have done and explored. Look East is very accommodating to people’s lives outside of the office. So do all the touristy things and try all the food. This summer was an amazing opportunity to explore a beautiful city. 

The fast-paced, fun, family-like environment at Look East is unlike any I have ever experienced and I woke up every morning looking forward to the day’s work. This internship has been an incredible experience and I am extremely grateful to everyone on the Look East team who has helped and guided me along the way. It’s clear that when it comes to building trust, Look East is the best in the business and I believe I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them. This experience will remain a part of me and I am excited to explore new opportunities in the future.