Hello! My name is Asia Cruz, and I’m working as a Marketing Intern at Atmosphere Commercial Interiors during the summer of 2016. I work at the Young Quinlan Building on the corner of 9th and Nicollet in Minneapolis. I was asked to share my impressions of working at a company that specializes in working well. So, in addition to learning the ropes of marketing the brand, I am immersed in a work culture that feels both interconnected and innovative.
While it may be my last year at the University of Minnesota, I’m convinced there’s no end to learning. Yes, there are fewer multiple choice problems, but the problems simply get more abstract. Instead of multiplication and division, it comes down to strategic problem-solving and interpreting other team members’ needs. Instead of yes or no answers, there are a whole lot of maybes. And instead of semester-long topics, subjects require and deserve much more dedication. Here are a few specific lessons I’ve taken away from interning at Atmosphere while also going to school.
Different environments lead to different ways of thinking
The power of place is power indeed. Choice and control are directly related to employee engagement, and have been shown to reduce workplace turnover, improve operating margins, and even boost morale. With my schoolwork, new study spots have saved me in times of stress, and I can guarantee I have finished assignments quicker because of the variety in my workflow. At Atmosphere, this is also true, though tools like the Brody and V.I.A. simply replace the lifesaving coffee shops and libraries I grew up with. Small changes can make an enormous impact on productivity, since it becomes much easier to form complex thoughts and think in new ways with the conscious effort of change.
Think like the client
At school, I think like the grader; at Atmosphere, I think like the customer. When finding a new way to work, the fun is in the perspective. Learning comes through thinking, and the opportunity to do so shows that the workplace is always evolving and growing based on the new customer needs to explore.
On a similar note, I have found that the best work comes when not judging its caliber. In Tim Brown’s TED Talk about creativity and play, he mentions that we often feel embarrassed by our ideas. He also points out that trust and playfulness helps us find better solutions, which also often leads to newfound inspiration overall. In the place of inhibition comes innovation, and I fully believe we can all benefit from a little more fun.
Think about it! Learn. Engage. Repeat.
With the workplace becoming more and more complex, we have to consider possibilities before they become problems and think for ourselves to create our own solutions. Learning via textbook may be a useful foundation, but the workplace relies on constant curiosity to find new answers. Really, this final year of school is just preparation for a different way of thinking. No matter the age, being open to personal growth is important to forging a path in the world, and we can all use a little nudge in finding answers to questions we might not even know yet.