10 weeks, 44 Trello cards, 5 sprints and 5 client projects later, it is time for me to say farewell (but not goodbye) to the team at AAB consulting. Rather than writing a long meandering blog about my time here, I thought I would condense some of my key learnings into a list:
- An online internship can be just as good as an in-person one
But, that’s only possible when the team makes an effort to make you feel welcome and are set up to work digitally. I’ve spoken to a number of people this year about their summer placements, all of which have of course been online. For the most part, they seem to have had a rough time, being given a discrete piece of work to be completed and then being given little guidance or support. In contrast the opposite has been true for me – everybody made time to bring me up to speed or even just to have an informal chat. It just goes to show what a lovely bunch of people the ABB team are and that being online really isn’t all that bad (if it’s done right).
- It’s great to think big picture
But, without getting the basics right it all equals zero. I think this point was emphasised in a delivery project that we run, a lot of it boils down to co-ordinating different parties and aligning / managing expectations. Without getting the day to day process smooth, then however well formulated the overall strategy is, it is destined to fail. Getting the basics right is a prerequisite to delivering something exceptional.
- Start developing relationships early
From a conversation about business development, Lesley stressed the importance of getting involved in lots of different groups. It’s important to remember that your peer group will develop in parallel with you. By bringing those people together (even if it’s years in the future) your impact will be multiplied.
- Design for the user and not the project owner
They may pay your wages but, at the end of the day results are king. Test your assumptions about what you think the user’s needs are and the context that they work in, in doing so you may uncover a simpler and more effective solution. This is exemplified by the discovery process within AAB consulting. It’s name says all, its about speaking to users and discovering what the problem actually is and not just the symptoms.
- Build it right to start with
It will save a lot of time and effort. If it’s already built and not fit for purpose, change quickly – otherwise the complexity will just increase and old ways will become entrenched.
- Only do something if you can devote enough time to knock it out of the park
Anything less isn’t good enough.
- Start with quick wins to build momentum
It softens barriers and demonstrates your value – people will be more willing to engage with your project. Then tackle the meaty problems with the support of the organisation rather than on your own.
- Farrow & Ball paint really can’t be beaten (according to Julie)
After re-decorating my flat with a lesser brand, I have to agree.
- Washing machine sock draws are revolutionary
I will remember this Lesley – for when I eventually stop being a student and have to buy my own washing machine!
- Don’t keep people in the dark
Consistent and honest communication builds trust.
- For the most part, people and organisations already know their problems and a solution but consultancies bring value in uncovering the root cause
They just need help discovering it and creating a solution that addresses the heart of the problem rather than just the symptoms.
Of course, this list is just a small snippet of everything that I have learnt - I feel like I could have written an entire blog post on each one (perhaps excluding sock draws).
I suppose one final mention has to go to the team at AAB and everybody I have met along the way for making the past 10 weeks so enriching and memorable. Given the state of the world at the moment I couldn’t have asked for any more from a summer internship which I think speaks volumes about the whole team and what they represent.