This year, GreenStone has welcomed 26 interns across various departments within the organization. These interns bring a wealth of knowledge, strong skills, and a fresh mindset as they work in their various roles to further the mission of GreenStone and prepare for their future careers.
Ian McGonigal, Executive Vice President and Chief Regional Sales Officer discusses what internships in the sales department look like and how interns are given opportunities to grow through mentorship.
Q: What qualities/characteristics set apart a successful sales intern?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is someone who is very inquisitive and curious about what we do in the sales department. My philosophy is that there are no dumb questions, so interns who ask a lot of questions stand out. Another key characteristic is being able to communicate well with other people inside and outside of the department. When an intern can strike up a conversation with anyone, they will learn a lot and we learn a lot about them in turn.
Q: Do sales interns interact with customers during their internship, or do they spend more time in interdepartmental roles?
A: They do, but it depends on the project they are working on. Even if a sales intern is working primarily on internal projects, we always make sure that the interns job shadow with different people in the sales department to get the experience of working with customers. For example, one of our sales interns was working on an internal project, but she went on some customer calls with one of our crop insurance specialists to learn what that role was all about - such as the products and services we offer to those customers and so on. No matter what project an intern works on, we make sure that they gain experience working with customers and understand the interaction between GreenStone and our customers.
Q: Do sales interns have a mentor within the department to help them grow and develop their skills?
A: The short answer is yes; they have a mentor. Sometimes it is one mentor while other times it is multiple, depending on the project they work on for the summer. Usually they have one mentor but, as I mentioned earlier, we try to introduce them to different supervisors who could be called a mentor so they can get a variety of exposure to different people in the company. Every mentor has a slightly different style and each person can add value to the intern’s experience. I think you can probably see that our mentorship in the internship program is flexible – that’s the goal.
Q: What have you learned the most about your interns, past and present?
A: Usually that they are really talented and capable of a lot of things! There are many cases where I talk to interns and think to myself, “Wow, these interns are really sharp folks,” especially from a technical standpoint. More recently, I have been impressed with their presentation and communication skills. Those two areas have impressed me for a while now, but especially in recent years. On the technical side, there is nothing that stumps them in terms of using our technology; when they enter the internship, they just seamlessly transition to our technology and software.
Q: What is the balance between autonomy and dependence as interns work on their projects?
A: We try to give our interns a lot of independence to do their work. We don’t try to micromanage them, and we try to give them a lot of freedom, but we also give them the necessary support so they are not stuck. I always try to set up the interns so that they know, “If you can’t get a hold of me, here is my backup, and if you can’t get a hold of them, they have a backup.” We never want interns sitting at their desks or at home feeling stuck when they have a question. We want this to be a great experience for them, and the support we provide our interns reflects the company. We want to ensure that our interns have not only the support they need, but also the freedom to work independently and use their skills. Fortunately, we have good people here, so it is usually a great experience for the interns.
The sales department currently employs four interns: Kinsey Carr, Emily Kropf, Kyle Long, and Jacob Simmers.
“The internship at Greenstone has allowed me to connect the subjects I am learning through my degree program to real situations in the corporate world. I have had experiences that other students have not and that has helped me with my degree,” says Emily. “The mentorship I have is like no other. I have weekly check-ins with Kelly and check-ins with Ian; their mentorship is influential to my success as an intern. They truly care about each and every one of us! I can’t stop saying positive things about our internship program here at GreenStone.”
To learn more about GreenStone’s internship program, visit Internships (greenstonefcs.com).