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A Reflection: Takeaways From My Internship at Ewald

Posted By Drew Kelsh, Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Erik Hillesheim



This past year I’ve had the amazing opportunity that is being an intern at Ewald Consulting. Ewald is very unique in the sense that an intern is about the last word you’d use to describe everything that they empower their interns to do. I’m very lucky to have worked here, and am excited to return for Ewald Pt. 2 next summer after I travel around Spain and the rest of Europe :-) I wanted to take the time to highlight some of the bigger stepping stone lessons I’ve learned as a young professional during my time at Ewald. Although I learned tons of tangible knowledge about marketing, sales, analytics, data, social media, and graphics, I think even more important is to focus on some of the intangibles that will be integral to my future. Without further adue, here goes...


1.    I learned how to cultivate, lead, and sustain a culture of excellence

I was very lucky to have landed in a company with such a great culture and sense of community. At Ewald, we are all about developing our employees and empowering them to excel in whatever they take on. As I’ve had the opportunity to train in new interns and teach seasoned staff, I’ve had excellent mentors here that have helped me discover how to teach and develop others. By instilling confidence in my coworkers and helping them maintain autonomy over their work, we have created intrinsically motivated individuals with a deeply rooted desire to succeed that binds itself to our mission. This confidence has helped our employees take risks by thinking outside of the boundaries of their role and helped lay the foundation for new and improved processes. It begs our employees to ask the hard questions that normally are kicked under the table and to not accept the status quo. Accountability and follow through are never an issue here at Ewald. Along with some of the more serious, hard-hitting stuff, everyone here is truly enjoyable to be around and that makes coming to work a blast.


2.    I learned what true, visionary leadership is

Our management team thinks about everything in the right way and does a great job communicating that with all staff. One thing that I’ve become uniquely attuned to is how dialed into the ground level our management is. They are very receptive to criticism and recognize opportunities and problems to exploit them very quickly. They manage relationships within our company, with our clients, with our clients members and volunteers, and with vendors very smoothly. Our CEO, David Ewald, does an exceptional job keeping his mind to the pulse of the external environment and maintaining focus on what is important. They constantly look to refine strategy, mission, and processes so that they best align with what will create organization-wide successes. The team does a great job elevating everyone, including interns, to the horizontal, non-hierarchical structure that exists here. With this mentality, I’ve been able to strategize on company-wide, department-wide, and ground level initiatives. I’ve helped push management to think about and start acting on creating new departments and expanding our service offerings. I’ve been able to think creatively and brainstorm on company strategy and positioning. All of this comes from our management team being open to ideas and investing in the intellectual capacities of their employees.


3.    I learned and refined my emotional intelligence and empathy

Simply put, everyone at Ewald is great at working with people. They have set a bona fide example in their communication, thoughtfulness, and team-oriented spirit. Having created a solid foundation in those areas with the help of my coworkers, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to focus on refining the skills of empathy and emotional intelligence in the workplace, a rare opportunity for a nineteen-year-old kid. I’ve become aware of the smaller nuances that coworkers have and I dedicate myself to picking up on social cues that often go unnoticed. I’ve learned that how people present themselves on the surface level is rarely the entire truth, only the mere tip of an iceberg. Trying to understand what people are going through (both at work and elsewhere), empathize with them, and act in a way that helps my coworkers succeed has been really helpful in building a culture that values other people’s priorities, aspirations, and wellbeing. My investment in other people helps me tiptoe around sticky and tense situations, learn more about what truly motivates an individual, and build incredible rapport. I find myself even more motivated and dedicated to Ewald’s mission, being invested in my coworkers. I hope this all has made me a little bit easier to work with.


I’d like to thank everyone at Ewald for making the past year a great one. I can’t wait to rejoin you later this summer! For now, hasta luego - tengo que explorar España. 

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