I am currently a senior dual majoring in Organizational Studies and Economics at Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges. When I accepted an offer to work as a Customer Experience Intern at the Seattle office in October 2014, I was ecstatic about the opportunity, but I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. While I took many classes in college that spoke about the importance of a great customer experience, I was never exposed to the technical tools that help invigorate the experience.
During my first week, I was staffed on a project where I would be working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It was the first time I had ever heard of the term CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and I was completely oblivious to its purpose, importance, and functionality. I wasn’t sure how I would both learn to use and configure the application and add value to the project in a short 10 week internship. At the same time, I also had to learn the ins and outs of the office, like whether to push or pull the door to enter the office in the mornings!
During internship training, we learned about the Johari window—where if you are in an unknown territory, you should ask others to help you expand your known territory and condense your unknown territory. We were taught the technique to get high quality feedback from our peers, but I was inspired by the concept and used it to help me expand my knowledge of CRM.
For the next few days, I scheduled multiple coffee chats and lunches with as many people at the firm as possible to identify the type of resources that are available for learning more about my internship and CRM. As a result of these conversations, I found out that the West Monroe Partners’ intranet is a great starting tool. There were archives of many past projects that were waiting to be discovered. I was also given links to online resources about CRM.
If I had any questions, I was able to ask anyone at the firm regardless of their title. Within the next few days, I had a good understanding of the importance and functionalities of CRM software, and I understood the role West Monroe Partners plays in customizing CRM to better fit organizations.
I have always been eager to learn as quickly as possible. I was born and raised in Sri Lanka and moved to the United States when I was 10 years old. When I came to the US, I did not speak a word of English, but I was under a great deal of pressure to promptly learn the language. With a great support system consisting of family members and mentors, I accepted the challenge and spoke English fluently within a few months. I tackled CRM in a similar fashion; all I had to do was find my support system and expand my known territory.
Thankfully at West Monroe Partners, if you take the initiative and have the courage to ask for help, you will be respected for your resourcefulness, and you will be assisted. Although it might be a bit nerve-racking to reach out to people as an intern—in my experience—it was the best way to learn from the many experts at the firm as well as understand the firm’s culture and core values. Working with my fellow team members and asking lots of questions helped me gain knowledge and valuable connections that I will use when I graduate and enter the workforce.