After months of scouring online internship postings and attending multiple career fairs where I gained more pens than connections, I was scrolling through one of the weekly Communication Studies emails and came across an internship posting for La-Z-Boy. It was the dead of February and the middle of a long midterm season. I was buried in blue books and blog posts and everything else a Communication Studies major with a double minor in Writing and Digital Studies is assigned throughout the academic year. And there I was, applying to work at a furniture company that, from my understanding, only made those huge leather recliners that exclusively reside in man caves and suburban living rooms. However, after two months of working at La-Z-Boy, I am happy to say that the company does indeed sell more than recliners and, entirely by chance, I have landed the best internship to prepare me for my future career in Communications.
The La-Z-Boy World Headquarters is located in Monroe, Michigan—nestled between Toledo and Detroit. The company was founded in Monroe and has been making furniture for almost 90 years. Fittingly, I am a Communications Intern working with both Internal Communications and PR/Branded strategy. My broad title allows me to have a hand in a multitude of projects. I have helped with press releases for new furniture gallery openings, organized photos for media releases, and helped launch a new internal communications branding platform.
As I mainly work with internal communications, my primary project is to launch the LZB internal social network called Yammer. Yammer is the internal hub for all employees to share news, collaborate within their teams, and ultimately engage more with their colleagues. With a background in social media and a love for writing, launching the Yammer platform for all La-Z-Boy employees has been a match made in intern project heaven. One thing I love about my internship is that I have an outstanding amount of autonomy to suggest new initiatives and put my own plans into action.
For example, I am currently in the process of rolling out a “30 Days of Yammer” campaign for the month of July. The campaign is designed to increase the number of engaged users on Yammer and get people excited about using the platform. I have weekly contests planned and a bunch of trainings (in the corporate world they call them Lunch and Learns, where you eat lunch and learn something new!) to help employees get acclimated to the site. I am really excited to put my plan into action and start working with people from across the company—making new connections with people outside of my department is always a plus!
Although I absolutely love the projects I have been assigned, I would have to say my favorite part of my internship so far is how much I have learned in only two months (and I still have two more to go!) Because I have gained so much knowledge throughout my internship experience at La-Z-Boy, I thought it would be useful to share some of the many lessons I have learned so you too can have an awesome summer internship!
1. A strong work ethic is key.
This is your time to define who you are as an employee, a leader, and a team player. Even if you are not assigned a lot of work to do that day (trust me, it happens to all of us interns), it is important to showcase your best work in everything you do. Say you are assigned to write a short blog post. Try to spice it up by adding photos or suggesting a new format. The worst that can happen is your supervisor won’t like your suggestions, but they will appreciate the effort you placed in thinking outside of the box.
I know, I know. I just said you needed to work hard. Who has time for relaxing when you are young and hungry? However, this is some of the best advice I can give any intern. Interning at a new company means everything is just that: new. There are going to be some days when you are going to feel entirely out of your element. So if you ever find yourself freaking out because you are totally not ready for this whole “adult” thing, take a deep breath and remember everyone was a new intern or employee once just like you. Oh, and watch videos of puppies during your lunch break, they always help.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for more.
An internship is such a unique opportunity because you are hired by a company to not only provide work, but to also learn everything you can. If you feel like you could be doing more, ask for more work. If you want to learn more about a different department, ask to shadow their department head. More than likely you will get a yes and mad respect for wanting to broaden your career horizons.
4. Network and have fun with it!
Networking is always portrayed as just another item on the career building to-do list. But I truly believe you can make networking fun! It all starts with getting to know the people around your office, even the ones you may not be in direct contact with. Whether it is a friendly “good morning” in passing or a round of introductions that leads to a connection between you and a colleague, you never know who you are going to meet and what you will learn from them. And when you meet a fellow Wolverine, that’s one of the best feelings in the world.
I am incredibly excited to continue my summer as a Communications Intern at La-Z-Boy and want to thank the Communication Studies Department, and Program Coordinator Cheryl Erdmann, for the weekly email updates. Without their support I wouldn’t be having the most engaging and beneficial internship to my future career. Happy summer!