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Summer Internship Takes Classroom Education Into the Real World


This summer, I was given the fantastic opportunity to be an intern at First San Francisco Partners (FSFP). I’m now in my senior year of college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where I’m studying business with a concentration in marketing and a minor in sales. Considering I don’t know what I want to do when I graduate and have never had an internship before, I didn’t know what to expect when stepping into the virtual work environment of FSFP back in late June.

The first week, I met my managers and people I’d be working with a lot over the summer. Each new face came with a smile, and I felt right at home within the first few days.

What followed were 10 weeks of learning, listening and development. I spent most of my time working in the Marketing department but also helped the Engagement Resourcing and Sales areas. Each day presented a new and welcome challenge. I have many memories, but what stands out is how I was surrounded by people who made my day better and helped me complete the assigned work each week.

Now that my internship experience is over, I have two major takeaways: It’s the people who make the business. And the combination of my education and experience this summer left me feeling prepared for the future.

It’s the People Who Make the Business

Relationships and networks are what help you grow as a person and professionally. Upon beginning my time with FSFP, this concept was made evident in several ways. For one of my projects, I was tasked with facilitating more articles for FSFP’s Meet the Team interview series. I reviewed the interview questions we asked in past articles and was given the option of adding new questions, which helped me learn even more about the team.

This is me a month before starting my summer journey!

A consistent theme I identified talking with employees was the importance and value of teamwork. FSFP’s Director of Operations and Principal Consultant Jane Beynon put it best: All five FIRST company values are critical — but teamwork holds them together. Everyone here has unique strengths, but when they come together to complete a common goal, work is more manageable and of a higher quality.

FSFP’s teamwork is visible in both actions and words. The amount of communication, delegation and collaboration on every project made things move quickly and efficiently. It was easy to find success on my projects, and I was provided with plenty of invitations for one-on-one support if needed.

More valuable lessons came from my involvement with team interviews. The most prominent theme was to get out of your comfort zone and prioritize what’s most important. Everyone admits that college has its fun aspects, but at some point, you must grow up and start looking to the future. With their advice in mind, as I finish my senior year I’m consciously focusing on networking and a job search focused on my top interest areas.

Another big takeaway this summer came from my interactions with CEO Kelle O’Neal. There were several times when I heard her talk about FSFP’s image and values. In my marketing role, I was already familiar with FSFP’s values. But hearing Kelle talk about them and her vision for the company, with passion and emotion in her voice, brought the words to life. It made a profound impact on me.

Applied Learning in Action

I learn best by doing things instead of reading about them. And that’s why Cal Poly’s “Learn by doing” motto and how we use real-world applications to practice using professional tools at school resonates with me.

At FSFP, I turned my education into direct action. My background in using WordPress, LinkedIn, Buffer and PowerPoint gave me a good base for what I was asked to do this summer. My familiarity with these platforms enabled me to use them easily, with minimal guidance from the team. By working with these tools daily, I started teaching others how to use the tools by week six of my internship. And I not only put what I learned to use but also began to learn the more intricate details only afforded through the daily use of these platforms.

Something else I appreciated this summer was the ability to explore various aspects of FSFP. Through sitting in on meetings and collaborating with different people across the company, I saw firsthand the roles Marketing, Resourcing, Operations, IT, HR, Sales and other areas play.

By being part of these departments’ regular activities, I learned what I liked and narrowed down ideas of what I might want to do post-graduation. And by getting a peek inside various departments and working with different people here, I’m now more confident about my direction.

Excited About What Comes Next

Overall, the summer of 2022 was informative, productive and a meaningful experience for me. I’m honored to say I met many talented professionals who were genuinely good people. Starting with management and trickling down throughout the rest of the company, everyone at FSFP has integrity and a professional work ethic, which is what makes this company as strong as it is.

Thank you to everyone who helped me this summer. I’m excited to see what else is in store for the wonderful people of FSFP!

Article contributed by Michael Leahy. He is a Cal Poly student who spent his summer as a Marketing Intern here at FSFP. Michael looks forward to graduating in the spring and conquering all opportunities in the near future!

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