Yizhu Sun, a recent graduate from the George Washington University School of Business, worked with the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) International Builders’ Show® marketing and sponsorship teams during NAHB’s summer internship program.
As a recent graduate, I discovered a new type of university experience after my school campus shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. What should I expect from a summer internship in Marketing and Business Development at NAHB in this virtual era?
Despite not working in a traditional office environment, I made the most of the experience for sure. The first days at NAHB were exciting and full of promise. Kiersten and Janel started our orientation with a warm welcome and detailed guidance regarding the NAHB Community, services, the organization structure, IT support, and many more. Kiersten also encouraged us to attend the NAHB 2020 Spring Leadership Virtual Meetings from which we could hear the ideas and thoughts from leading experts in the home building industry. Participating in Convention & Meetings Committee Meeting, Leadership Council Meeting, and Board of Directors Meeting allowed me to really be nourished by learning not only the latest housing market trends and in-depth economic analysis, but also how NAHB has worked on huge effects to fulfill its mission in uncertain times, protecting the American Dream of housing opportunities and achieving professional success for its members.
During my interview with Randy, Lynn, and Jennifer, I quickly realized that NAHB posed a unique way to provide valuable resources to its community in which the Marketing and Business Development team plays a key role. The cross-functional internship was very interesting and rewarding. I was most surprised by how smoothly the team worked together even remotely. Surrounding by many focused and motivated people, I was actively involved and received consistent guidance from senior executives, superiors, and co-workers. For example, I have learned a lot from working with Randy these past weeks. He is an experienced marketer who gives energy to both analytical and creative marketing projects. Randy suggested that I dive into the IBS website and blog content analysis, generating insights from analytical results, and more importantly, delivering actionable recommendations to rebuild the digital platforms in the future.
Working with Lynn, Brian, and Mike for business development projects required constant research, analysis, communication, and updating of documents. In my opinion, the challenges are the same regardless of whether I am in the office or at home. Nevertheless, one thing that makes a huge difference while working remotely is helpful feedback on my ideas and work from the team. In spite of the long distance, I have not struggled with miscommunication.
The pandemic is changing the way we work. I wish I could meet with everyone in the amazing Marketing and Business Development team in person having small talks by the coffee machine and asking by-the-way questions; however, today I am writing this article in my living room. Fortunately, this unique internship experience has taught me to focus on the digital aspects of work with fewer distractions and more effective communication.
The two “life lessons” that I have learned during my time at this internship: always ask questions and speak up! Whenever I had doubt about how to complete a project or use a new tool, I always asked my supervisor or co-workers for guidance. Asking questions is not a sign of weakness but a positive attitude implying that we care about doing things the right way. NAHB has an open and collaborative environment where everyone is encouraged to speak up. I really enjoyed the Weekly Production Meetings with the marketing team. When someone had a good idea or thought that they had something to offer to a project, they shared it openly with others.
Best wishes to Yizhu on her post internship journey into the real world.