Emma Mandarino is on the UGA Equestrian team. She is studying Accounting through Terry College.
When I was around 15 years old, I saw a quote painted on the side of a pizza restaurant “People are the best thing that can happen to anyone”. The phrase has stuck with me, and as I get older, I appreciate the insightfulness of these 10 simple words. I returned to the Corporate Headquarters of Verizon Communications in Basking Ridge, NJ, as an intern in their Finance and Leadership Development Program. I was exposed to some remarkable, brilliant people who showed me that work isn’t just about the job at hand, it’s also about impacting those around you.
I was placed on a team with two other interns and we were tasked with creating a bill of materials for a resale product. This essentially consisted of doing cost revenue analysis in order to maximize profitability. In the process of working on our project, we found that the product lived in a bit of a broken process which was eating away at the profit margins. In addition to the analyses, we decided to go further and identified some of the problem areas that were causing profitability to decrease. In our final presentation to Verizon’s CFO and his direct reports at the end of the summer, we explained the issues we found and made recommendations for improving the process. It was incredible experience to not only get to work on such an interesting project, but also to be able to find a real issue that no one else had found yet and make a tangible difference.
My team could not have had such success, however, if we had not been surrounded by people who really and truly cared about us and our journey throughout the summer. Our bosses were genuinely invested in our growth. The manager we reported to, Joe, told us about how when he was in college, he interned at a company where they treated him terribly. It was an experience he never forgot for all of the wrong reasons. It resonated with him so much that he went above and beyond to ensure that we were challenged, learning and growing. He had us make interim presentations to his boss (who also showed genuine interest in our success) every single week. This is what guided us to expand the scope of our project and ultimately uncover a hidden problem. Our bosses definitely pushed us, and it was not always sunshine and rainbows. There were some long days, demanding obstacles, and tough feedback, but it allowed us to learn and grow exponentially.
I was lucky to not only have great bosses, but to also have some exceptional teammates. The other two interns, Johnny and Adithya, who are now juniors at Rutgers and Michigan State, respectfully, are two of the smartest, most interesting people that I have ever met. They impacted me throughout the summer in ways I did not anticipate. We would all help each other work on our weak areas and understand where we were at in our project. We pushed each other to work hard, be intellectually curious, and also enjoy what we were doing. After only nine short weeks together, we became so close and I know I will have them as friends and professional connections for years to come.
As I reflected on the summer driving home from work on the last day, I thought back to the pizza shop wall quote. I realized how critical it is to invest in others’ growth and development. I believe working with good people at a job you love is critical to successful career. I vowed to myself that if I ever am somebody’s boss and have interns under me, I would work as hard as Joe to ensure they have a good experience. Then I stopped myself in my thoughts, because I realized that I do not have to wait to be somebody’s boss. Investing in people is not just something that requires a formal leadership position and it’s also not just limited to the workplace. In life, I have countless opportunities to impact the people around me. So I reworded my vow to promise that from now on, I will make a more palpable effort to invest in those around me. Whether it be with my teammates, my friends, or my family, I hope to show the same dedication to people that I have been lucky enough to receive.