On my first day on the job in my internship in Argentina: my supervisor handed me a thick manual (all written in Spanish), told me to read it, and said: based on your strengths, please let us know what you can do and what will be the main deliverables throughout your internship.
This moment may sound like a blessing or a roadblock to people starting out their first professional experience. How many of us have also started our first day of work, dumbfounded at our desks, realizing we had no idea what to do? In the past, my peers and I experienced frustrations such as our supervisor not delegating tasks or having a lack of clarity in what our job description was within the team.
From several of my work experiences, here are the three things I learned about going above and beyond on the job to address some of these situations:
Don’t be afraid to innovate your job description
After my first day of work on my internship in Argentina, I asked myself what were the things I wanted to learn and practice the most. The most relevant skills I wanted to improve on included videography and content development.
I took my key learning points and connected them to what my supervisors mentioned that the organization lacked. There was no social media plan for their services and no consistent mediums for communicating with their network.
From there, I made my job description comprise of video content, graphic content for social media, information management, and implementation of Mail Chimp for newsletters. While this was not at all on the original job description that I applied for, it actually connected more to my strengths and skills that I wanted to develop, and left a clear output of materials that the organization could store for future use.
Identify pain points as soon as possible
Upon interviewing for an HR placement, I asked both my interviewers: what were the biggest bottlenecks or difficulties they faced as an organization in their day-to-day tasks?
My first interviewer mentioned that the time it takes to fill a role is extremely long, and the second mentioned that they needed to boost their employer brand, but they did not have the time to dedicate to the project since their HR team was understaffed.
Learning this, I implemented an employer brand management project by revamping all of their channels’ post calendars and launching a campaign showcasing the experiences of current employees. Since the company faced issues with the time it took to fill a role, I tried to examine what were the factors in our control that could shorten hiring times. The two things include how quickly we moved candidates through each stage and how well we sourced our applicants so that their conversion to the next step of the hiring process could be higher. After discussing this with my supervisor, we agreed to complete weekly analytics on the time between each stage and where our candidates were being sourced so we could see the conversion increase.
While these deliverables were not originally explicit components of the role, I was able to devise projects that interested me to target the pain points my supervisors mentioned.
Give more than you take
In my current role in organizational development, I work as a support to the rest of the operational teams in driving the delivery of our company’s products. When one of our product heads had to leave for a month for her transition into a new role, I asked her how I could best support her as she was balancing two different areas of work.
After she gave me more liberty within my role on her project team, I was able to access a variety of opportunities such as becoming her proxy at a conference in Colombia to develop partnerships and assisting with content creation for the marketing of her product
This was a new learning experience for me, and in addition to acting as a better support for my teammate, I was also able to develop my own skillset.
Going above and beyond stems from kindness
The two biggest takeaways from my experience is that in the pursuit of making a professional work experience best suited for us, we are able to combine the best interests of the organization with what will push our own personal development. Second, all my work placements taught me that no matter what we sign up for, we can turn the role into a bigger learning opportunity than we ever thought possible. While it may come as surprise at first, maybe that’s a good thing.
Ready to take on your own professional placement and turn it into an opportunity? AIESEC currently offers a wide range of international professional internships abroad. If you’re looking to bolster your personal skills, sign up here to get started today!