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What I've learnt: halfway there.

29 Jul, 2020

After enjoying a week of summer vacation, we’re back and ready to tackle the last part: validating the EV-charging business ideas and creating a company management presentation.

During the break, I reflected upon the internship and came to the realisation that never in my life have I learned so much as fast. Much of it unexpected, but extremely valuable nonetheless. I’ve put my education in Business Administration to use, and seen how Power Point slides from NHH translates into real life.

Through the summer, I’ve gained valuable professional skills that will be extremely useful later in life. Lessons that you don’t learn in school.

So for anyone who’d like to get in on the (professional) action without actually spending a whole summer trying and failing, I’ve compiled a list. These are the 4 most important things I learned from my first weeks at Statkraft:

Yes, long meetings in teams can be tough on anyone but our leaders’ input made them fun.
1. Go talk to the experts

Being a summer intern, you are thrown into a completely new setting. You are given a task nobody has come up with an answer to. You need to organize yourselves and, of course, do the work yourselves. Being self driven and working independently is a must, however, it’s also important to know when to ask for help.

If there is an analysis you don’t know how to do, or simply need to spar with more experienced people, dare to reach out.

From my Statkraft experience, what you’ll find are the following two things: that people are incredibly passionate about what they do, and profoundly eager to help. Statkraft’s humans are highly competent, and love talking about what they do. They are exceedingly helpful in getting us on the right track when we seek input.

Overall, what I have learned is to not be afraid of reaching out and asking for 30 minutes of somebodies time. Worst case they say no, and you’re back to where you started. You didn’t loose anything. Best case, you learn something new, you get unstuck and you make a valuable connection.

Good teams listen to each other and have fun lunches
2. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind

Obviously don’t overrun the conversation by relentlessly pushing unpopular ideas, whilst not letting anyone get a word in.

Do however, dare to voice your opinions and ideas, share your logical thinking and participate in conducive discussions. Worst case scenario, the team finds out your way of thinking is not the way to go, which in itself can be useful. Other times, you might not be entirely on point with your thinking. Even so, your idea may have great potential, made gold by the knowledge and input of your team.

Sometimes you have a great idea, and because you dared to communicate your viewpoint, the project accelerated into something bigger and better.

Put your ideas and thoughts in the discussion! Be humble, and let your ideas be open to input. Both good and less important comments are needed to give the task direction.

 

Sometimes you don’t have time to make fancy Power Points. Then you need to rely on your fire communication skills.
3. It’s not always about what you deliver on paper, but the ability to communicate your thinking

What surprised me the most about working in a professional setting is that you’ll never have time to finish everything 100%. Being unable to put everything down on paper or PowerPoint slides makes communication skills are incredibly key. Be good at explaining your thinking. If you master the skill, your audience will understand you better than any well-crafted standalone Power Point or ten page report.

People like to be told things, not to read things. They will appreciate an interesting story over an excel file any day.

Being a great team is key to delivering good results.
4. Be a positive force in your team

The main lesson that’ll stick with me is: Without the continuous efforts of everyone creating a great team, it’s hard to speak up and be confident in your work.

I know that the project delivery will be better because of the great people I work with and have the pleasure of seeing each day.

In a team with engineers and business majors, the importance of soft skills is often subdued. Working together in a positive way is hard to measure in the numeric fashion that we all know and love. Setting people together to perform a task includes dealing with unpredictable situations that yields unpredictable results. This may have been the biggest eyeopener for me this summer.

Despite this, I would claim we have an effective well-functioning team, a success I personally believe is down to 3 main points: we give each other space and listen to each other, we keep an open line of communication and use actively use it to communicate positives and to solve problems BEFORE they become unmanageable.

Lastly, we have unanimously decided upon the same goal for the summer. The results of which is having equal expectations and working towards the same thing.

On an end note, I would highly recommend Statkraft’s summer internship to anyone interested in gaining real life professional experience. I’ve loved learning new skills from passionate people and had one of the best summers of my life.

It’s been an absolute privilege.

Best,
Åsne.