Interns4Afrika Success Story

Emmanuel Manyhnela Maduka, Business Development Manager - CITS Tanzania

How did the internship experience land me a job?

Before even I completed my internship program, I already had an offer in my hands with the hosting company where I am still working. Was it lucky? Definitely a big NO. There are some reasons for work hard.

Showing interest and preparation

Prepare yourself and be eager to learn and you may show your willingness to learn by asking questions to your supervisor and to the Microsoft facilitators. Remember your mentor will never trust you or delegate projects to you if you do not show interest in your work. When I joined Microsoft, I had no sales skills and no work experience. But I had had a will to learn. One thing I will never forget was meeting Debbie Law. She was our facilitator. In my first session, she showed me the Microsoft program, one of the best programs and I paid her with a big thank you note

Dear Debbie,

It was a great opportunity to listen to your presentation. Really, day one was fantastic to me.

I appreciate your good approach to presenting. It was very interesting to listen to. I hope this week will be good indeed. Thank you so much for your presentation and see you tomorrow.

kind regards, Emmanuel.

This note caught her attention. She would ask me questions about the topic and even mention my name in class. I would ask questions and if they were out of her experience, she would find someone who had expertise in that area. She would advise me how to do better during my internship on commitment to help grow my career.

Hi Emmanuel,

I will definitely share experiences with you. That was how I learnt - from my peers. The trick is - keep listening to people, they share so much valuable information, and that includes your customers

Regards, Debbie

Set your own goals and policy for the internship program

See yourself in the big picture and be organised and smart. Your picture should go beyond the company expectation from you. Always be punctual and go the extra mile because it is the only time your supervisor/mentor will determine if you are valuable to the organisation.

Treat it like a real job

If you really want to be taken seriously by your boss, then you need to treat your internship as if it is a real job. Because it is! Even though you are an intern, your work will still have some positive or negative impact on the company.

How have the internship skills acquired helped me get a promotion?

The internship program gave me confidence and skills to ask the right questions at the right time. This became my habit and it is one of the reasons I moved so quickly to the business development manager position just two months after completing my internship program. When I landed my first job as the sales executive for CITS, I was still a Microsoft sales intern and I used the skills learned at that period by asking my boss the right questions. Below are four questions and responses from my boss.

1. What can I do to make myself more useful? – You need to keep improving your communication and know well what you are selling. It is true that one cannot sell well what they don’t know in-out. The company is available to use its human and financial resources to assist you develop in this areas to a comfortable level

2. How can I do my new role (job) better? – CITS’s long lasting problem has been generating and closing sales. The biggest problem has however been keeping our customers. If you can well focus on these two you will have done better for the role.

3. How can I learn more so that I can be more useful to the company? I encourage you to learn from all people in CITS. I am also available at any time to take you through anything you would wish to learn from me. As said on point one, any knowledge gap which requires our financial support should be communicated and the Company will offer a helping hand as appropriate

4. What I am doing wrong or inefficiently which I can correct and improve?Presently I see you are on the right track. Even angels make mistakes. Human beings are no exception. You will have to remain open (when it happens) to accept negative feedback from people to help you improve. But as said, as of now, you’re good.

Those questions showed how much I was committed to make a difference in my current role and his responses were what I used to measure success or failure in my role.

Responsible for the results

This is one what changed my career. It was one month and a day since we started internship. The module was Sales Characteristics. Debbie Law was the captain of both the class and module. I won't forget that day because it’s the day my attitude changed and why I got a promotion. She spoke how to be a hundred percent responsible for your own career and life. She said we were the presidents of our own lives and careers. After that class I went to prepare one page and put it on my laptop’s screen. It states,

I am the president of my own life and career. My motivation: I like myself, I love my work, I love selling and I am the top salesperson. she said if you change your thinking about yourself and your possibilities, you change your life. There is no other way!! Debbie Law

From that day, I would look, dress and walk like a top salesperson. This increased my motivation and I would smile like the owner of the company, I would present the products as the top salespeople do. Since then, I cannot sleep before 0000hours. I always wake up before 0400hours and by 0500hours I’m in the office.

`I spend at least one hour every day to learn and study my career. As I’m writing this story, I have read countless books on sales, sales management, marketing, negotiations and so much more. Debbie taught me what it means to be responsible. Now it’s my life rule to give the best to whatever passes through my hands. I’m 100% committed to excellence. I got promoted because I would be the first and last in the office and I always came up with new ideas, strategies, methods, methodologies, and met sales targets.

How has it been working for a start-up?

Have you ever considered working for a start-up company? Do you have what it takes? While certainly not for the faint of heart, there are many benefits to being part of this vibrant community. You will undoubtedly get to meet some creative, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers, in addition to obtaining great work experience. Realistically though, not everyone is cut out for this kind of work. It takes a person with a unique skill set, who can handle a fast-paced working environment and has a tolerance for risk. Although my company has been incorporated for a decade now in this industry, we still cannot ignore the fact that it is still a startup.

You will have more responsibility.

Working at a startup probably means you are part of a small team, most likely in the single digits. Because of the nature of having such a small team, there is probably nobody else in the company who has the same skillset as you, approaches problems in the same way you do, or even thinks the same way you do. When I joined CITS as the sales executive, there was already clear organisational structure. I reported directly to the business development manager and gave a monthly report to the CEO and MD. However, even before I completed my internship I was known as the door-to-door specialist because I was allowed to go out there to generate leads, prospect and qualify them before closing. A few weeks later, I would develop my own sales and marketing strategy and work on it. This pushed me to be more versatile, more reliable, and more productive. At a bigger company, I may not have been given the same opportunity.

Deal with stress and develop entrepreneurship spirit.

Nobody said working for a start-up would be easy! There is a great amount of instability that exists. Because of the demands of the job, a start-up company looks for energetic candidates who have a keen entrepreneurial spirit. Working for a start-up can be extremely stressful and can take an emotional toll. Only a true entrepreneur will be able to thrive in this kind of environment. If you do not believe in the company’s products or services or don’t share its passion, it will be very difficult to succeed.

You will be given more opportunities.

Working at a startup offers a different type of reward, an incentive-based system that is not based on dollars, but rather in skills attained and opportunities seized. When I joined CITS, I was allowed to go present to the bigger companies, negotiate with them and even sometimes fail or lose some attractive business deals. This taught me how to deal with different customers and I learned from failure. This convinces me that I have had more opportunities to grow as a sales professional than anyone who is working at a bigger company.

Your work will be recognized.

At a startup company, it is nearly impossible not to notice a job well done or to give credit where credit is due. If you succeed, the small team will recognize it instantly, and the praise and glory are yours to bask in. Spread your arms in glory, my friend, your work has been recognised. On the other side of that coin, it is also easy to see when you have screwed up. For two reasons, this is a good thing. The first is that it is nearly impossible to slack off.

Within a few days, your coasting and slacking will be noticed and the rest of the team will wonder why they are working harder than they have to. That keeps you focused and on your game. The second reason is that because failure is easier to notice, you will make sure to eliminate mistakes in order to avoid disappointing your colleagues. Stay focused, startup employee, and your successes will be recognised, your failures minimised. Moreover, when the rest of the team says, “we couldn’t have done it without you,” you can be confident that they mean it.

You will learn from true innovators.

People who start their own business have a different mental and professional makeup than those who have never gone off to create something of their own. Entrepreneurs are defined by seeing a problem and thinking of an innovative and original way of addressing it. Because of this innovative nature, entrepreneurs are some of the best people to learn from.

Multi-tasking.

Working for a start-up means you will be expected to do a variety of tasks. The ability to ‘wear many different hats’ within a company is not only looked upon favorably, but it is also essential. Working at a startup will allow you to try on a lot of different hats, even that weird one that you did not think you would ever like, but find out that you do.

You will be instilled with the value of hard work, ownership and self-sustainability.

Maybe more important than any other benefit of working at a startup is the realization that hard work, creative thinking and tenacity are worth a whole lot. Once you have created something of your own, something tangible and whole, something you can touch, fee, or use, you really begin to appreciate personal ownership. For those who do not actively create, or are continuously creating for someone else’s benefit, it is difficult to understand the great importance of personal ownership and the liberty needed to pursue that ownership. Working at a startup and spreading the news of your team’s product, a

product that you helped bring into existence, instills the value of that ownership and gives you pride in your work. It is this pride, in your team’s hard work and ability, that teaches you the importance of protecting those who create innovative solutions and take risks.