Greeted by a sea of blue polo shirts as I entered the lobby of Haskell headquarters, I knew the 2022 Intern Summit had officially begun. The first in-person summit since 2019 was a culmination of months of preparation by the University Relations team and consisted of three days of programming to wrap up a summer of hard work for Haskell Interns.
After a long day traveling to Jacksonville – myself from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and numerous other interns from Haskell offices and job sites across the country – an ice cream social was the perfect way to kick off the week. It gave us a chance to meet the faces we’d only seen over video for the past weeks through the bi-weekly Intern Workshops or through meeting with our smaller intern teams, with which we had been working closely to create a pitch that we would present to a panel of judges at the end of the week.
Between preparing for the pitch presentation, which was modeled on Dysruptek’s Big Pitch, we were able to get properly introduced to all the different facets of Haskell and what the company has to offer. We began with a lesson in improv with Taylor Williams, Master Trainer, to ease our nerves and get in some laughs as a team. Barbara Cotes, Manager of Team Member Engagement, then gave us a chance to explore our professional strengths according to a Gallup CliftonStrengths Assessment, which we all had previously taken to better understand our styles in the workplace.
The rest of Wednesday consisted of a rotating schedule in which we were treated to a ride on the company yacht, the Casamia; a short walking history tour of the surrounding Jacksonville area led by Mike Huskey, Director of Workforce Planning; a building and art collection tour; and the opportunity to participate in a United Way service project, packing teacher survival boxes with school and wellness supplies.
The opportunity to experience this truly sets Haskell’s Intern program apart. The resounding consensus from the week between the interns was that Haskell is special, and the care put into hosting us impacted us all.
Throughout the week, the prominent theme was connection, and in fact, that has been a theme from the beginning of the internship. From flying in more than 30 interns, plus hosting the 30 more who are from the Jacksonville area to inviting Haskell executives and trainers to speak with us every workshop to organizing lunch with leaders from across every department of the company to network, we were constantly meeting current team members who wanted to genuinely help us navigate the world of Haskell and what it would mean to become a full-time team member.
Throughout my time at Haskell, despite my title, I have never felt like an intern. My opinions have always been heard, and my ideas have been honored. I have learned so much from my supervisor, Editor-in-Chief Kurt Caywood, and my team. Beyond learning the technical skills needed for my position, I have earned a sense of confidence in myself and my place in the field of corporate marketing, a sentiment I felt was heavily echoed throughout the cohort regardless of department.
To top off the team-building activities, we headed to Top Golf in the afternoon to help ease our nerves before the final day of the summit, the day of our presentations. Thursday, conveniently National Intern Day (no doubt Huskey’s genius at work), was the day we had all been waiting for. Walking into the building, I could feel the excitement, and the tension, thick in the air. Each group, assigned to us early in the summer based on our locations and specialties, took turns presenting their pitch to a panel of six judges, consisting of David Thaeler, Executive Vice President and Chief HR Officer; Cutler Knupp, Director of Strategy & Technology Innovation; Jim O’Leary, Chairman, CEO and President; Dave Auchter, Vice President of Marketing; Brooke Jones-Chinetti, Director of Learning & Team Engagement; and Taylor Williams. Needless to say, the stakes were high.
The pitches were meant to be based on one of the six pillars of Haskell 2025, the company’s strategic roadmap, or Haskell’s Core Values of Team, Excellence, Service and Trust. Each of 12 teams presented for five minutes and took questions from the judges for four more.
My team focused on Diversity & Inclusion by highlighting ways that Haskell could increase its number of women in construction, and our planning paid off: We left that day with second place and $1,250 to share. First place went to a team of returning interns who created a prototype of a community service app, called HaskellGives, that would allow team members to easily find opportunities to volunteer and get rewarded for doing so. Third place went to the team that created near-field communication (NFC) business cards to help Haskell produce less waste and become more technologically advanced.
Getting second place was incredibly rewarding not only because there had been so many amazing ideas, but also because it felt like we had really kickstarted something that could make a difference in closing the gender gap in construction. Presenting to a panel of such accomplished judges was an irreplaceable experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
To end the summit, we took a tour of Haskell Steel, the company’s fabrication facility in northwest Jacksonville, which gave me a new appreciation for the team members who make Haskell work, especially in the Florida heat.
The end of the day was bittersweet. Saying goodbye to my team members and the other interns I had met throughout the week was hard, and realizing that my time at Haskell was almost over was even harder. But it was also satisfying to reflect on all of the ways Haskell has helped me grow this summer.
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