As project managers, we have a lot of fun assisting a variety of businesses and organizations. We thrive on bringing our expertise of process and organization to the table.
That’s what we did when Healthy North Dakota asked us to assist with the Statewide Vision and Strategy Coordinating Team.
Healthy North Dakota founded the Statewide Vision and Strategy Coordinating Team to support a coordinated vision and understanding of health care services provided in the state.
Members of the team included a wide range of leaders who represented business, associations, government organizations, healthcare organizations, higher education and more. They all gathered monthly to share needs, challenges, opportunities and available resources.
But when a Healthy North Dakota staff member tasked with administering the team left, the group no longer had someone to hold the group members accountable for what was discussed and shared. Assigning these additional responsibilities to one of the committee members wasn’t an option because the members were volunteers.
The SVS Coordinating Team asked Reach Partners to coordinate the monthly meetings (including set the agenda), distribute minutes and follow-up with committee members on action items. Anita stepped into this role for more than two years.
She worked closely with the team’s chair to ensure the group’s momentum continued and progress was made. When action points were identified during meetings, she followed up with the responsible committee member.
“Anita filled a vital role in a transition period for the program and the team. We relied on her expertise and we were not disappointed,” said Jerry E. Jurena, president of the North Dakota Hospital Association and chair of the SVS Coordinating Team.
We’re grateful that we were able to help the SVS Coordinating team stay on task and collaborate in a healthy and positive manner.
I started running just before I turned 30. After realizing I had never completed a consecutive mile, I wanted to see if I could reduce the amount I sweat (my cooling system is a slick thing to be admired), and if I would ever be transformed into a long-legged, running gazelle (nope).
Still, what I have discovered after years of trotting is there are numerous similarities between running a race (like a half marathon, 13.1 miles) and the project management work I do at Reach Partners (everyday, baby). For both, success starts by committing to do what I say I’ll do.
And, of course, I never forget that the race isn’t over when I step over the finish line. Likewise, the project isn’t done at the deadline. I celebrate the success. I close with stories, a great beverage, and a yummy treat. And then, I start planning for the next race.
Trot on, my friends. See you on race day!
Over the years, numerous student interns have blessed us with their skills, their passions and their personalities. Every internship experience is different, but every single time we cherish those moments when we get to help someone explore and grow.
In honor of our most recent intern who graduated college this week, we took a few minutes to reflect on why we hire interns and how we benefit from these relationships.
Q: Why did you decide to bring interns onto your team?
Rachel: It’s a valuable experience for us to create a work plan that mutually benefits both us and the student. In addition, one of Anita’s strengths is developing others. She’s gifted at creating experiences that build on the skills an interns brings to our team.
Q: How do you structure your program so that the intern gets a valuable experience?
Rachel: We intentionally match what we need done with the interest of the intern. Everyone has a better experience when the intern is confident enough to be curious and explore. When we find activities and projects that they’re interested in, we all benefit.
Q: What do you gain by bringing interns onto the team?
Anita: We love having the opportunity to mentor a student and to pass on what others have done for us. It’s a way to honor those who have taken the time to mentor us. We also can’t help but get drawn into the enthusiasm every intern brings to our office. Their new and fresh ideas keep us engaged.
Q: How have you found your interns?
Rachel: Most of our interns have been students at North Dakota State University, Concordia and Minnesota State University Moorhead. We’re not afraid to ask for referrals from professors, other professionals, student association and even other interns. We tend to find better fits for our team when we rely on word-of-mouth.
Q: Any suggestions for other small businesses who want to hire an intern?
Rachel: Define goals and expectations. Clearly establish how and when you want the intern to communicate, whether that’s finished work or questions they need answered. We believe that it’s important to share experiences and to invest in them. Go ahead and send them to a training session or networking event. This is our chance to show them that we see their possibilities. We also embrace their ideas by listening and riffing off what they share. Nothing says respect like showing enthusiasm for someone’s suggestion.
Q: What’s your best intern story?
Anita: It is so amazing to watch all of our interns grow and do amazing things. One of our former interns now works at the National Defense Industrial Association as a communications and special events associate. She interned with us, got a job after college and later served as a volunteer on our Women’s Health Conference planning committee before moving to the Washington, D.C., area.
Rachel: I loved having Kene Okigbo work with us. He brought so many good things to our team: curiosity, a willingness to share his ideas, energy, enthusiasm and tenacity. I was so energized by his ideas and work.
Q: Were you an intern? How did that experience help you?
Anita: In college, I interned with Women's Business Institute and put on the Women's Expo, a conference for women entrepreneurs and small business owners. Lily Tomlin was the keynote speaker. During that experience, I learned many valuable lessons from my mentor, Penny Retzer. The first was that no matter what role or title you have at a company, you always need to be willing to stuff envelopes. It was a good reminder that sometimes things just need to get done – even if they’re not glamorous or fun.
I am still in contact with Penny and, likewise, I'm still in contact with some of the interns I've overseen. Those relationships are gifts you can’t replace.