“Explore and Present a Retail Vertical.”
If you have any idea what that means, I’m impressed. Better yet, if you think that is a very informative prompt that can be easily translated into a thirty minute presentation, kudos to you. Looking back, it makes a LITTLE bit of sense. MAYBE. As a second day intern, and even as a fifteenth day intern, however, when told I had to create a 30 minute presentation exploring and presenting a retail vertical, I immediately went into panic mode.
Luckily, I was not alone in this state of utter distress. The nine interns were split into two groups, and the other group had to “Explore and Present a Consumer Packaged Good Vertical.” I honestly have no idea which group got the short end of the stick here. Needless to say, none of the nine of us had an inkling about how to start. The only bigger problem was that we were so completely clueless that we did not even know what questions to ask. The only one that popped into my head was, “can you please say that in a different way and maybe in about 250 words?”
Our boss asked if we had any questions and we all remained quiet. This was perhaps our first mistake. I think our decision to stay silent was a combination of how dumbfoundedly shocked we were by this seemingly empty prompt, and our newbie-nerves that made us think any question we asked would be a stupid one.
At that moment, I tried to stay calm. I tried to tell myself that in time, it would all make perfect sense. I tried to tell myself that regardless of how worried I was in that moment, I would be able to somehow foster a presentation from that empty prompt that would blow the executives away. Yet, as my internship progressed and I learned more about my team and the company, I still had trouble imagining how I might be able to apply what I learned to a “retail vertical.” By week three, though, I was right. I was starting to get it. I was having conversations with my group mates and thinking, wow, did I really just say that? Good for me! I let it happen naturally. I learned that the best way to learn is to stop thinking about the finish line and allow it to come on its own.