As I wrote in my last post, we had five interns this summer. There was plenty of work for them and I kept reminding myself, and our regular employees, that our job was to teach these interns what it is really like to work inside a company.
I didn’t expect to learn anything from them. But I did!
Last week was our national sales meeting. Once a year we bring in our sales team from all over the country for training and team building. We’ve done this for many years and on their last night in town, I always invite them to our house for a barbecue. Thank goodness for my husband, Garry, as he took care of every detail this year. We had more than 30 people at our house – on the hottest afternoon of the year!
It was nice to see our team in a relaxed atmosphere, just sitting in the backyard, sipping their beverages, sampling appetizers, and chowing down on Garry’s famous dry-rub, grilled ribs and chicken.
I finally had time to make a plate for myself and I took a seat next to our interns, Anika and Dani. As we were chatting and reminiscing about all their activities this summer, they started telling me about one of their greatest lessons during their internship with us.
It was about smiling.
Both Anika and Dani admitted to me early on that it was hard for them to remember to smile. Their job this summer was on our Street Team, visiting local supermarkets and being Frieda’s ambassadors to consumers. They not only sampled exotic fruits and vegetables, but their job was to answer consumers’ questions and welcome them into the produce department. During our weekly update meetings in the office, they would always be reminded to smile.
Well, at our team dinner, they confided in me that now they can’t STOP smiling. Dani told me that she finds herself smiling when she goes to the grocery store (when she’s not working) and says hello to strangers while walking through the produce department. She said it seems natural to her now and she noticed how much happier it makes her feel. And that it seemed to make total strangers happy!
Anika told us that our family style barbecue was so much different from social events at another company she had an internship with.
“Other company events I went to for XYZ Company consisted of me standing in a corner because I didn’t know anyone. Last night could not have been more different. I was able to name everyone at your house and talk to them, both about work and personal lives. The evening was a perfect example of how different, and in my opinion better, small companies are from big ones. People cared about when my last day was, what I’m doing in the fall, and how much they enjoyed working with me this summer. This internship has been great in so many ways, but the most important of which was being a part of a team. Last night just reaffirmed the greatness of small business.”
And then she gave me a big smile so I could tell she was sincere.
I recommend trying to smile as much as possible. And make eye contact with strangers when you say “hello.” How can you be in a bad mood or unproductive when you have a big smile on your face?
These two college students reminded me of that. But, if you know me personally, you know that I always have a smile on my face.