What I learned at HOMAGE
Few things are more helpful in figuring out what to do after graduation than an internship. Student Jessica Ketz shares her insights following a summer with a popular Columbus apparel company.
This summer I worked in the home office of HOMAGE , an apparel company in Columbus known for soft, vintage-style T-shirts. I was an intern with the company’s marketing and promotions team.
HOMAGE participates in the JobReady Ohio’s co-op and internship program, which supports paid internships for Ohio undergraduate students. It’s a win-win for everyone: offering wage reimbursements and a pipeline of talented students to employers and training, scholarships and real-world experience to students.
There were a handful of projects that I worked on throughout the summer, and I also attended events around the Columbus area to market and spread brand awareness of HOMAGE.
One of the projects involved research and the creation of a detailed event proposal to gain experience with event planning and outside collaborators. The biggest and most comprehensive project was to create a Campus Ambassador Program, which is projected to launch in autumn 2016. This project involved the development of the overall program structure, incentives for campus reps and the program participation requirements.
Here are three takeaways from my summer for those who are in the internship or job search process:
- Company culture matters. Enjoying your profession is a top priority, closely followed by enjoying the place where you work.
Like most students, I knew this piece of advice well but did not fully grasp it until this summer during my internship. To an extent, there is no way to completely know the culture of a company until you are immersed in tasks, projects, meetings and so on.
But here’s what I realized: When asking recruiters about their company’s culture, “work hard, play hard” or “we’re like a family here” tend to be recurring answers. Now I know those answers are too vague and that culture involves the relationship or fit between the employee and the company.
An intern or employee should be meeting or rising above the company’s needs, and the company should be doing the same in return. Culture is also a connection between colleagues and how they interact with one another; it involves how employees treat each other, respond to conflict and confrontation and how issues are resolved.
- Communication is a form of respect. Every student has experiences with group assignments or projects in classes. So we all know to respond to emails and group chats and to be an asset to the group.
In a professional setting, being as upfront as possible with progress updates, questions, conflicts and concerns is even more crucial and shows respect to your boss(es) and co-workers, who hopefully will reciprocate.Through my internship, I noted that establishing and then maintaining a good reputation with co-workers means communicating well and frequently.
Warren Buffett, a wise business magnate, says it best: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”
- Be curious. Exceed your internship expectations, and branch out.
A company that is proud of what it does and is invested in an intern’s development will do its best to address personal interests, as long as it does not take away from your initial intern responsibilities. The company should be willing to allow exploration of its other departments, which could potentially spark new interests or even assist an intern’s growth through the process of elimination.
HOMAGE is in the process of finalizing a new website design, and although I interned for marketing and events, I took the initiative to meet and discuss the reasoning behind the changes to the website. Just from that meeting, I became more aware of how to think creatively, about finding an effective solution to the presented problem and about my strengthened interest in marketing-related fields.
Best of luck to those in search of an internship! My internship experience this summer has equipped me with new insights, and I look forward to the opportunities the future holds.
Header image credit: HOMAGE Grand Opening at Easton Town Center