Today's interns, tomorrow's leaders

By kamalpreet -

Today's interns, tomorrow's leaders

Racker culture is created by Rackers and it’s no different when it comes to our interns. Before we wave goodbye to this year's class of five, we asked for their perspectives on their experiences.

Marketing Operations Intern James Lai provided an infectious aura of positivity whilst efficiently dealing with data and proved to be the go-to for all things video.

Marketing Events Intern Janna Ajaj utilised problem-solving, organisational skills along with exquisite attention to detail, to deliver exceptional events.

Lead Qualification Intern Joss Freeman spoke to our customers on the front-line to understand their needs and provide a Fanatical Experience from the first ‘hello’.

Managed Public Cloud Intern Olivia Coburn delivered campaign support with ease and precision, along with leading the intern recruitment programme for the following intake.

Marketing Studio Intern Tiffany Samuel provided both campaign and creative support to the department and served on the POWER Board for equality in the workplace.

  1. What advice would you give to the new intern group?

James Lai: Take full advantage of your placement year here and get as much as you can out of it. Rackspace is your oyster.

Janna Ajaj:
- Be brave, be bold but most importantly be yourself.
- Never stop asking questions.
- Build your network.

Joss Freeman: Give everything your best. Show your worth and don’t forget to enjoy yourself…time goes too quickly!

Olivia Coburn: Don’t resist your instincts. When I first joined, there were meetings where I would suppress my instinctive suggestions out of fear that they would be dismissed. It is good to be self-aware, but don’t let that stop you from adding value to teams. Even if your answer is wrong, no one will judge you and they will actually encourage you to learn from it.

Tiffany Samuel: Rackspace trusts you with a great deal of responsibility, you need to learn to be proactive when you're trusted to take charge.

  1. What’s the most important thing you have learned?

James Lai: Rackspace has allowed me to become a much more confident person, both in my skill-set and as an individual.

Janna Ajaj: To stay true to myself in a professional environment whilst also winning in every situation.

Joss Freeman: I have learned a great deal about communication, confidence and the everyday workings of a multinational business in an amazing sector. And also learning about how the departments of a business interlock has been very insightful.

Olivia Coburn: If you work hard, it will pay off. Rackspace is an amazing company to work for, hard work is recognised and you are supported. If I constantly push myself, my fellow Rackers will support me in achieving my next goal. Everyone has different motivations but, if you can push yourself, it will pay off either immediately, eventually or in the sense of pride you feel.

Tiffany Samuel: I'd say the most important thing I've learned is to ask the question out loud. There were so many times when I didn't in fear of interrupting, but I really should have because it demonstrates deep interest and engagement, as well as helping me learn.

  1. What’s the best experience that you’ve had during the internship?

James Lai: For me, it was our Christmas Party and the Marketing Awards, where we got dressed up and had a fun night out. I edited videos for the Marketing Awards. Seeing everyone laugh and enjoy them was an extremely heart-warming experience for me.

Janna Ajaj: The university tours we did across the UK which included the University of Sussex, Brunel University and University of Kent where we spoke about the Rackspace Internship scheme. It boosted my public speaking confidence levels as I stepped out of my comfort zone to speak in front of hundreds of people.

Speaking at The University of Kent - (from left to right) James Lai, Olivia Coburn, Joss Freeman, Janna Ajaj and Tiffany Samuel

Joss Freeman: There have been countless amazing experiences across this year, I really do enjoy coming to work every day and talking to customers on the phone. Singling out key events, it would have to be all of the fun budgets and work parties – Rackspace does everything to the max and it’s always amazing!

And on a professional level, seeing the process of how leads are generated through to closing them has been a great learning experience.

Olivia Coburn: Hiring the new interns. It was a project that I led from start to finish and I improved the process from last year. It has given me valuable insight into the hiring process from the other side, and provided an opportunity to work with the whole department. But the best part was working with the other interns and knowing that we pulled that off as a team, resulting in more hires than planned!

Tiffany Samuel: Being a board member of the POWER group and working to make Rackspace a destination employer for women in tech.

  1. What insights have you gained for your future career?

James Lai: This internship has allowed me to discover my affinity for working with data. I have also been given opportunities to fulfil my curiosity and interest in the world of Service Delivery, which is a role I feel aligns with many of my personal strengths and values. Although I am unsure yet of which path I will follow, I can say with 100% certainty the future definitely looks a lot clearer than it was when I first started my internship.

Janna Ajaj: I believe this internship has allowed me to understand what I really enjoy. Although, I am still not entirely sure about the future career path I wish to embark on, working at Rackspace has allowed me to experience things which have changed my idea of my ‘ideal’ career.

Joss Freeman: This year has been massively beneficial to my personal development and giving me a clear insight into the future I am looking to pursue. I have felt very inspired across the year and am ambitious to follow in the footsteps of the business leaders I have met across the business.

Olivia Coburn: I have been lucky enough to have amazing mentorship this year, which has allowed me to focus on myself inside and outside Rackspace. The advice given to me has made me realise my top values and what I will need in any job to be happy and successful, no matter what company or industry. To me, this is invaluable as I will carry it forward with me throughout my whole career.

Tiffany Samuel: I've had vast exposure to many niche jobs within the Marketing Department, and now have a good understanding of the expectations within such an environment. I've also done a lot of management of both campaigns and funds this year, so that will surely help in my future.

From left to right - Janna Ajaj, Joss Freeman, James Lai, Tiffany Samuel and Olivia Coburn

5. Please provide an example of a Fanatical Experience?

James Lai: I aspire to provide a Fanatical Experience in whatever I do. Although there are a few examples, one that comes to mind instantly is whenever I am asked to jump in and help with video work. Ever since my video representing Rackspace culture helped my team become Rookie-O (training orientation for new employees) winners, I have received many requests to help with video work across Rackspace. From working with the GSS Team for their 2019 Kick-Off session, to the videos for each of the Marketing Awards winners; I have always risen to the challenge with no questions asked and made sure I put 100% effort into making these videos.

Janna Ajaj: We held a customer offsite meeting for the British Heart Foundation in our offices with over 90 attendees which I organised (One of my first ever events!). At the same time, our new CEO Kevin Jones was visiting the UK for the first time – he emailed the next day thanking us all for our efforts. It’s not every day you get an email from the CEO!

Joss Freeman: Every day when I speak to customers ensuring they have the best possible first interaction with Rackspace. My daily aim is to ensure their inquiry is dealt with in the best manner with the intent of becoming a valued partner!

Olivia Coburn: I would say running the Delighters (gift) programme has allowed me to give others the Fanatical Experience that Rackspace is so well known for.

For customers, it is more than providing a service or product, it is about the management and support given to them throughout their time with Rackspace.

Tiffany Samuel: I once deleted over 40 pieces of data from the content hub, only to upload them all again two hours later.

6. What are your predictions for technology in the future? 

James Lai: I believe that business automation will continue to grow at an exceedingly fast rate. Whichever industry you work in, technology will always be at the forefront of how successful your company will be. However, despite technology winning on a multitude of fronts (e.g. efficiency, margin of error, etc). I am still a firm believer that people will always buy from people.

Janna Ajaj: Teleportation – you heard it here first.

Joss Freeman: Big Data, Automation – I am very interested in technology, especially human development... and am definitely a believer that data is the most valuable resource on the planet!

Olivia Coburn: Black Mirror (every episode) – The "San Junipero" episode is a great example of how technology is being interlinked with the human consciousness and how it can be used to give people lives which they could never have from the physical bodies they are in. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is about us giving technology a consciousness, but I can also see that technology will help elevate us and give people lives they never even dreamed of.

Tiffany Samuel: I really enjoyed the AI workshop/training HPE invited me to. I really am excited to see how AI develops at the forefront of innovation.

The Marketing Intern scheme opens in October 2019 for applications for 2020/2021.