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  • Writer's pictureJillian Stern

Why My Internship Was 5 Stars

As the summer’s end is quickly approaching and the smell of number 2 pencils is creeping in, I thought a reflection of how I spent my time interning at elite|studio e, might be beneficial.

I have served at restaurants for around 6 years, and thought … what better way to write this, than as a giant metaphor for going out to eat.

You’re probably thinking, “Why would she compare a summer internship to a restaurant experience?” or, “This makes no sense, where is she headed with this?”. Hear me out. When contemplating how to approach this task, it was clear to me that due to my experiences, this was the way. Even this summer, many days after this internship, I'd go to work at a restaurant. And coincidentally, this company is a foodservice design, build and consulting firm! (I can’t escape this industry!). All jokes aside, I am …

Waiting for a Table: My Intentions and Expectations

I had all the suspected nerves for a new job. The fear of the unknown is real, especially when it's the first in-person internship you accept as a college student. Although I've had two internships in the past, I worked from the comfort of my home. This being said, I set no expectations. How could you when there is quite literally nothing to base an ‘in-person’ professional setting off of? I made a goal at the beginning of the summer, and that was the intention to learn. Like a child, I planned on observing and absorbing from everyone in office, all of whom are professionals and had something to bring to the table.

Looking at the Menu: Firsts & Feelings

Like I mentioned before, this was my first in-person internship and first time working in an office.

I was feeling nervous, scared, but; empowered. I was actively taking another step in my career path and getting a glimpse of life after college. Read: adulting.

Appetizer: Starting Out; Adjusting & Adapting

Since the start of the pandemic, I've gotten used to working, and learning, from the computer. Being that my classes, and internships have all been remote, it was an adjustment getting back to “real life work”. Honestly, I forgot what a commute was!

Even if the pandemic was out of the equation, it was still interesting making a jump from college to corporate. I have never been in a professional collaborative setting with colleagues, not peers or other students. I truly enjoyed it, especially since everyone at elite|studio e has been so welcoming.

Dinner: The Meat and Potatoes of it All. Skills & Stumps

One of the highlights of this summer was having the opportunity to participate in Quel’s Corner -- this very blog! I loved it. My work with this aspect of the company further fueled my passion for writing. I will say, it was a challenge at first. Raquel and the team sometimes need assistance getting out content, as busy schedules don’t always allow time for pleasure writing. Writing in the language, and on behalf of another, was a skill I had no experience with, but with practice, I ended up getting the hang of it! Working with this blog also exposed me to new software. I learned to use Wix, to draft blogs that could then be published directly into the website. It gave me experience with SEOs and Tags as well.

Another aspect of this blog that challenged me was a Question & Answer piece I was tasked with. Stay tuned because that’ll be our next post! But anyway, I had never attempted an interview style piece. As a naturally inquisitive extrovert, I am groomed to ask others a lot of questions. But I had never done so in an interview style format, especially where I had to then turn my jumbled collection of information into a legible, cohesive piece. My first time writing a Q&A, was surprisingly very enjoyable. Being able to interview the team members and create the verbiage and flow for a blog on their behalf, was exciting. What originally was something that stumped me, I can now call a skill.

Unfortunately, where there is an active, blog, there isn’t always an active Instagram account. The Quel’s Corner Instagram account did not get as much attention during the pandemic. Let’s face it: discussing hospitality trends and industry events when you can’t go out is definitely a challenge! But check it out now!

I helped relaunch the account by making a social media plan. First, creating a mission; then rebranding; and finally, setting up story highlights, relevant hashtags, and creating a Linktree (to organize relevant links to information for the account). Raquel and I collaborated on a variety of components, including:

o Boosting engagement

o Planning content

o Brainstorming post and story topics

o Setting goal

o Editing the bio

o Creating a mood board

This opportunity allowed me to analyze statistics, to then strategize social media planning. In a span of 30 days, I was able to increase followers on this account by 14.4%. Success!

Social media became a huge part of my day at elite|studio e. I’ve done a lot of work with Instagram and Facebook through organizations I'm involved with at UMass and other internships, but now I’ve taken it one step further.

I learned how to use another tool that is almost as enjoyable as it is tactical: Adobe Spark. I never imagined being able to create graphics, but with the help of my teammate, Marcy, and a little bit of practice, this tool enabled me to create stunning social graphics and short videos. I'm grateful to say I can now add that tool to my belt!

Utilizing my newly acquired design skills, I scheduled social media content on Later. It’s like the Marie Kondo of your entire social media strategy. elite|studio e now has some content ready to go through June 2022, including social media holidays, work anniversary posts and various professional events. And, while it sounds like a big commitment at first, rest assured it’ll pay back in the future!

To help enhance the elite|studio e Instagram account even further, I added story highlights, and a Linktree. This way all of elite’s followers had an easier access to their informative websites, blogs, and other accounts.

Instagram ‘Insights’ became my best friend. This feature helped me analyze data, so I could strategize when to post, explore what makes up the following, and inevitably brainstorm how to better appeal to the audience. I learned a lot about it, reading up on algorithms to help improve my knowledge on how to gain more of an audience as well.

Something that stumped me was posting on behalf of the design team. Some Fridays, we use the hashtag #FinishesFriday, to engage the Instagram following. A member of the design team would show a layout of finishes and I would schedule it to be posted with a descriptive caption. Being that neither of my degrees are in this field, I have little knowledge about foodservice project design, let alone interior design! Once receiving these content photos, I did not know what angle to take the caption. This taught me how to communicate more efficiently with the project designers, and in turn, I was able to help them articulate their thoughts in a way that is fit for a social media account!

One part of my time here that I especially appreciate, was my participation in the introduction of a new subdivision in the company.

I can’t talk about it by name yet because there will be a rollout soon, but the experience was very valuable. I compiled opinions of executives in the company to create a mission statement; helped write up descriptions for flyers, the website, and other marketing materials; and collaborated with the designer on a logo. I then compiled it into a presentation to show the team for feedback.

What I did not learn at school, was the extent to which some company’s stress confidentiality within projects. I had no idea that NDAs were as prevalent as they are, being that I am not in law school and my classes did not prepare me to see this! There are even some projects that have code names to prevent the use of the client’s name, like ‘project mac and cheese’ for one example.

It was very interesting to be able to observe meetings about legal documents, executive business reviews, and presentations for these ‘big name’ companies. This was not something I was made aware of in school. I am thankful for this aspect of working at elite|studio e because it is not anything like classroom learning. I could learn about how a real sales team presents to a client, and even read through RFPs or, requests for proposal. Business class is definitely different than real business communication!

As you may have seen in our last blog post, July 6th marked the official reopening of elite|studio e’s New York Headquarters. With this big day on the horizon, I was helping prepare.

Rebranding was in the works as well, as I was tasked by creating business cards for the team with a new software and updating titles. This sharpened my organizational skills, as I was reaching out to each individual member to make sure the information was correct. I was able to help set up new graphics in the office and contribute to internal markets by creating packages to show team members that they are appreciated at elite|studio e!

Box This Up Please! What I’m Taking With Me:

This summer was probably the fastest one I've ever had. You know what they say,

“time flies when you’re having fun”. And that holds true for my case!

The culture at elite|studio e speaks for itself. Through birthday celebrations, thoughtful cards, lunch & learns, and meetings in the “Billiards and Lounge”, it's clear this team is motivated by work and fun. The personalized box left on my desk my first day, really conveys the care at this family-owned business.

As my time at elite|studio e is coming to an end for the summer, I can happily say, I am leaving with more than what I started with. Skills like ghost writing, editing blogs, and social media planning, just to name a few. I learned how to utilize new software like Adobe Spark, Microsoft Suite, Box, and Wix. I am thankful for the chance to work in a cohesive environment with a range of individuals with different backgrounds, education, and roles. I have an improved and deeper knowledge of writing, social media marketing, blogs, and the trends of the foodservice and hospitality industry at large.

There was an unmatched level to which I was welcomed and included here. From invitations to meetings just so I can observe and absorb knowledge, to the daily and monthly check-ins, I could not imagine having a better experience for my first in-person internship. I'm very grateful for this learning opportunity and am excited to see what the future of my career has in store!

How’s that for a yelp review? 😉


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