This year at Lane4, we have had four academic placement students working with us in different departments: research and product, marketing, business development and consulting. Our 2020 placement students are coming to the end of their internships at Lane4 this week, marking the end of a year full of learning experiences, fun, and some unexpected twists (to put it mildly)! Below, they have each answered one question about their time at Lane4.
From left to right: Angus, Hannah, Molly, Alex
What was the highlight of your placement year at Lane4?
Molly (Marketing Intern): The highlight of my placement was organising an inaugural International Women’s Day event with the Lane4 Women’s Network, Thrive. I was really excited to have the opportunity to work on a project I felt so passionately about: equality for women in the workplace.
During the event itself, I hosted a panel event, facilitating a discussion between women from across the business about lessons they would give their younger selves. Initially, I was worried about presenting, but when I saw how many people had turned up to learn about a topic I believe is so important, any nerves were quickly replaced by excitement.
The experience was highly rewarding, as women from Thrive went out of their way to help me practice my presentation ahead of the panel. This helped me to improve my public speaking skills exponentially, as I was learning from women who made a living out of theirs!
Ironically, my placement highlight was a project which had nothing to do with the marketing team I was a part of at Lane4. This isn’t because I didn’t enjoy being part of the marketing team: on the contrary, I embraced the wide range of tasks I took on, from running Lane4’s social media platforms to interviewing senior stakeholders for videos and blogs.
In fact, it is testament to the trust my team afforded me that they supported my pursuit of projects I was interested in, whatever part of the company they happened to be in. It is this active involvement in my development which, having spoken to friends on placement at other companies, I now understand is something special about Lane4. Rather than being confined to making cups of tea and adding numbers to spreadsheets, I was unwaveringly encouraged to stretch myself out of my comfort zone as I took on projects which really mattered to me.
What was the best thing about working at Lane4?
Hannah (Business Development Intern): The best thing about completing a placement at Lane4 this year has been the supportive culture of the organisation.
I decided to apply for a placement year as I thought it could be beneficial for my future career prospects. However, I could never have predicted that an organisation would be so supportive of the development of a university student. This was clear from my first week at Lane4, when each member of the Business Development team that I was placed in made a point of getting to know me and helping me settle in. My colleagues instantly made me feel like a welcome and valued member of the team, rather than just an intern.
The interest that my colleagues showed in my development continued far beyond my first week. During weekly meetings with my manager, Adam, I was constantly encouraged to pursue areas of interest outside the remit of the Business Development team. This led me to undertake activities such as hosting webinars, conducting a large-scale data analysis, and even going on a ‘ride-along’ in the back of a police car (after expressing an interest in a career in the police force)!
The encouragement of my colleagues has given me the confidence to take on greater levels of responsibility than I had envisaged at the beginning of the placement. From leading a panel event at Lane4’s inaugural International Women’s Day event, to conducting initial phone calls with potential clients, the support of my team-members has empowered me to stretch myself further than I thought possible. I am excited to apply the skills that I have developed from this back at university.
As my placement year comes to an end, there are lots of things that I know I will miss about Lane4: the sense of purpose I feel at work; the rhythm of the working week and the busy-ness of the Sales Team. However, more than this, I will miss the interactions with my colleagues, whom I feel privileged to have been supported by, worked with, and able to learn from, on my placement year.
What will be your biggest takeaway from this year?
Alex (Research and Product Intern): The biggest takeaway for me this year has been experiencing what it is like to work in the corporate world. Working at Lane4, in an often dynamic and challenging environment, has given me great insight into what the world of business is like. Whether that be settling into a new team, learning about new systems, or simply understanding how to work the office microwave (!), this year has been a great insight into working life.
Understanding how to apply the psychological principles learnt during my first two years at university to make a difference to people’s working lives has also been incredibly eye opening. Getting to grips with new psychological models and frameworks as well as seeing them in action during workshops with clients has been one of my personal highlights. This has allowed me to see the genuine impact that Lane4 has on organisations and their people.
Furthermore, managing relationships with senior figures across the business as well as the routine that a normal working week gives you has given me huge benefits to take into my final year. It’s perhaps fair to say that working at Lane4 has certainly made me realise how many hours there are in the day to get things done!
Throughout this, the support of my team has been immense, and I will miss them all dearly. However, the lessons and pieces of advice they have given me throughout the year have been amazing and given me great foundations to continue in my studies and future career. In fact, the working and personal relationships I have built during the year is perhaps my biggest takeaway. I am very grateful to have experienced my placement year in such a welcoming organisation.
What is one thing you wish you could have known at the start of the year?
Angus (Consulting Intern): Lane4 gave me a massive amount of autonomy straight away, allowing me to get involved with almost any project in which I was interested. In hindsight, I was a little bit like a rabbit in the headlights, slightly apprehensive of leaving my comfort zone and throwing myself into projects. I wish I would have known how supportive and friendly everyone in the consulting community would be, as I soon realised that they were willing to help me with any query.
Once I got to know some of the consultants and spent more time shadowing their work, they encouraged me to take the lead on projects I was interested in. Their confidence in my ability helped me to push myself out of my comfort zone.
One particular example of this was when I was given the opportunity to deliver a learning activity with a key client, an experience which I found challenging but also really exhilarating and rewarding. It was really symbolic to me, because a few months before hand I had observed a Lane4 consultant deliver a programme and had never thought I would have the confidence to engage with a room of senior leaders in that way.
Learning to push myself out of my comfort zone also benefited me when the pandemic struck, as I was given the opportunity to co-lead an internal consultant development programme to help in the transition towards full virtual delivery. I really enjoyed helping to design, coordinate and facilitate a virtual L&D programme alongside my colleagues. For me, this experience epitomised what I have learnt this year: to not be afraid to ask, because more often than not people are happy to help and will give you great opportunities to develop.
Thanks again to our brilliant 2019/20 interns! They have never failed to impress with their energy, intelligence and good humour, even during the lockdown. We wish them the greatest success in the future.