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Summer 2020: GMS Interns Share Their Experiences

by Tim AustinAugust 21, 2020 8:00 AM

Every year, GMS is happy to welcome new interns looking to learn more about the PEO industry and develop key skills for their future. A few of our interns shared their thoughts about their GMS internships and what the experience meant to them.

A GMS intern for summer 2020. 

Turning an Internship into a Career – Kayla Bohuslawsky, Marketing Intern

Being a member of the class of 2020 came with an abundance of uncertainty. The Coronavirus pandemic caused my last two months of school to be completely remote, cut my athletics internship short, and led to the cancelation of my college graduation. There were so many changes happening in my life that I did not know what to expect for the rest of the year. However, these multiple changes lead me to receive an amazing internship opportunity with Group Management Services. 

The start of my internship at GMS was exciting but nerve-wracking. Training week was full of unfamiliar yet helpful information. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t on an information overload, but this overwhelming week gave me the confidence I needed to succeed as a marketing intern. 

The Life of a GMS Marketing Intern

My projects started out small but required a lot of attention to detail. Data mining, lead collecting, and reviewing social media pages helped me to build a basic knowledge of what GMS has to offer. After a couple weeks in, I decided to get the most out of my internship and put some attention on the sales side of things. Making cold calls, booking appointments, and participating in first meeting shadows made me start to appreciate the hard work that GMS does to help small- to medium-sized companies. 

I came into this internship not knowing much about the PEO industry. Allowing myself to dive headfirst into sales helped me learn how GMS takes the administrative burden off companies to let them focus on the bigger picture of their business. Sales was originally completely out of my comfort zone. However, this experience only helped me to increase my knowledge and spark ideas on how I can benefit GMS through a marketing perspective. 

As my weeks turned into months at GMS, I began to gain great marketing experience in just a short amount of time. I put my graphic design experience to use and began creating infographics, sales resources, and customized advertisements. On top of that, I was put in charge of all our social media platforms, learned how to write press releases, and updated our sales training content. 

Having prior experience with marketing gave me a good baseline on how to approach each project, and my comprehension of the PEO industry grew very quickly. I gained a better understanding of our target market and which marketing strategies are most effective. Another helpful aspect I learned was how to benefit our sales representatives by creating resources for them to utilize on first meetings and proposals. These resources allow them to provide specific and informational content to their prospects, making them unique to what each company is seeking.

Making the Most of an Internship Opportunity

My time as an intern at GMS went by much faster than I anticipated. I was able to see the direct impact of my work and dedication to my projects within the marketing department. After previous post-grad plans went in a different direction, I was thankful to receive a full-time position with GMS to remain in the marketing department as a marketing specialist. 

Although my time as an intern is complete and I am starting a new journey as a full-time employee, I have a few tips on how to make the most out of any internship for any company.

  • Ask questions. No question is ever a stupid question. Your superiors will appreciate your curiosity and desire to learn. This will not only help you increase your knowledge of the business, but also help you stand out among others.
  • Be open to new opportunities. Always be willing to step out of your comfort zone. New experiences can be intimidating, but it is important to keep an open mind. This is one of the best ways to discover new things and learn from your mistakes. You will thank yourself that you gave something new a try.
  • Shadow other departments. To really get the most out of an internship, ask to watch and learn from people in other departments besides your own. Doing this will show your initiative and allow you to become more well-rounded. It is always good to learn something new even if you are not exposed to it daily. 
  • Take your duties and projects and run with them. Reaching deadlines and completing quality work is very important. However, take your projects to the next level or start to come up with your own ideas that will be beneficial for the company. It could be something that they utilize for years down the road.
  • Embrace failure. One thing that you will never be able to avoid is making mistakes. Be willing to admit to your failures and ask questions on how to be better next time. If there are no mistakes, there is no way to show improvement. Continue to stay positive and work hard and your successes will override your failures. 

Even though 2020 did not go as planned, I could not be more thankful that I was welcomed into the GMS family. I wanted to say thank you to Mike Kahoe for being such a great role model and creating the amazing company that I can now call home. Thank you to Dave Swift for teaching me the ropes of sales and allowing me to constantly learn new things. Finally, thank you to Matt Schoolcraft for being the best teacher and making me the marketing professional I am today. I am thrilled to continue my time at GMS and to grow in the marketing field.  

Embracing Failure – Jordan Hughes, Sales Intern

My overall experience at GMS has been nothing but amazing. Looking back at my very first day, I felt overwhelmed, nervous, and almost doubted myself. However, seeing where I am today makes me feel as though I have been with GMS for years. 

Walking into the doors for my first week of training was nothing like I had imagined. Every single person you passed by had a welcoming smile on their face, the environment felt uplifting, and you could tell at first glance that every employee was here to put in hard work. I quickly adapted to the culture and started feeling like a part of the GMS family by the end of the first week.

Highlights and Challenges

Some of my favorite experiences with the company were going on meetings with the sales representatives, going out to eat after work hours with the company, shadowing the other departments, becoming closer than I ever imaged with my fellow interns, ordering delicious fresh meals from the company’s chef, and, of course, the weekly contests and competitions. 

Reflecting on the past couple months, I have seen a huge improvement in myself. Not only have I developed my skills, but I learned real life lessons that will stay with me forever. I noticed my communication, organizational, personable, and time-management skills have immensely improved. Everything I took in and learned from this experience has been a benefit to my career, future, and everyday life.

With every job comes challenges. I would be lying if I said I didn’t run into any during my internship. My biggest challenge was getting over the steep hill of phone calls. I may be wrong, but I am almost positive there is not a single person in this world that likes being told ‘no.’ Working in sales, you tend to hear that word a lot. The more I heard it, the more I got used to it. The more I got used to it, the better I became at cold calling. 

One simple lesson was learned here: failing is okay. Without failure, there would be no room for improvement. I failed many times by hearing the word no over the phone, and still do – but the takeaway from this experience is that it is human nature not to be perfect. We all get pushed down, but getting back up and trying again in an improved way is how you overcome it. I never thought I’d get over that hill. Looking back at it on the other side, I now realize it wasn’t as big as I thought. Coming from personal experience, you can do anything you put your mind to even when you never thought you could. 

Lastly, I want to give a huge thank you to every employee at GMS that welcomed me with open arms. You have all made my experience everything I could ask for and much more. A special thank you to my manager, Dan Flanagan, for giving me a chance at this wonderful opportunity and always pushing me to be the best intern I could be. I am beyond thankful for the relationships GMS has brought in my life long-term and look forward to continuing my journey with the company over the next year. I couldn’t be happier to call GMS my second family!

Learning on the Fly – Kelsey Verhoff, Business Development Intern

This year has been a true test for many people. My spring semester at Kent State University was an adjustment to say the least, but the one thing that got me through was knowing that I had an internship arranged. 

In April, I found out I lost this internship position due to COVID-19. I was devasted, hurt, and beyond stressed. At this point, I figured I wouldn’t find any open internship positions and became very discouraged going into senior year. With the help of my professor Ellen Daniels, I landed a business development internship at GMS.  

Starting from the Bottom

My first day was a complete train wreck! This was my first internship, so I didn’t know what to expect, where to go, what to do, and my nerves were in extreme overdrive. I started at a different time than all the other interns and came in when there were a lot of big projects and everything seemed in flux. Everyone was so busy and didn’t really know what to have me do. 

When it came time to leave, I stopped in one of the sales managers office and expressed how my day went. I asked what the game plan was for the next day and he assured we would figure it out. I drove home that night with tear-filled eyes and a very negative attitude. I was beyond overwhelmed. I was anxious and hesitant to return to work the next day.

When I walked into the office and sat at my desk, I was told to meet my manager Dave in his office. At the very moment I sat down in Dave’s office, I knew right then and there everything was headed in the right direction. I took that first day as a learning lesson that not everything in life works out how it is planned, and you must be flexible.  

A Learning Experience

Starting my internship a few weeks before the other interns and the sales training helped me get adjusted to the environment at GMS. Every morning you are greeted by your coworkers in the hallways and asked about how your weekend or night. I have never once felt left out at GMS. The people here want you to succeed and get the most out of your time with the company. I’ve learned there really are no dumb questions. I came into this internship and had no knowledge of the PEO Industry. I didn’t know what we did, who we were, what we sell, and why we do what we do.  

Sales training week was a ton of information thrown at you all at once and even after that I still didn’t fully understand everything. I asked a few of the sales reps in our office how long it took them to fully understand everything and they all said that they are still learning every day. I’ve learned to go in every day with an open mind and to be ready to discover something new. 

Sticking the Landing

This internship has allowed me to take my skills set and put them to the test. I have gained so many skills and learned about the sales process, what that looks like, and the industry. 

One of my favorite parts of the internship was getting to go on ride-alongs with various sales reps. It wasn’t until I saw in-person meetings with actual prospects how GMS can be a benefit to so many companies. I finally saw how our departments talk to one another and how GMS can make such a huge impact on small businesses. Interning at GMS was the best decision I have ever made, and I am truly thankful that the first internship fell through because working for GMS has been an experience like no other.  

Thank you, Mike Kahoe, for creating an impeccable company and giving me this opportunity. Another thank you to David Swift for being not only the best manager, but also a great role model and making me feel confident in the work I do. Finally, a huge thank you to Matt Schoolcraft for being my support system throughout my internship and teaching me the ways of marketing. I am so excited to continue my journey with GMS through the fall. 

Breaking Out of the Comfort Zone – Natalie Fleming, Business Development Intern

Because of COVID-19, I started this summer with a lot of nervousness and uncertainty about my chances of landing an internship. I had already applied for several opportunities and had heard back from many that they were cancelling their programs because of the pandemic. 

I was skeptical at first when I came across the posting for an internship at GMS, so I reached out to them on LinkedIn. Someone responded very quickly and told me they were still hiring business development interns and offered me an interview! From then on, my journey with GMS has been an amazing experience.

The People

From the very start of my interview process to my final week as an intern, the atmosphere at GMS has been unbelievable. Everyone has been so kind and willing to help me learn. At GMS, everyone wants to see you succeed. 

On my first day, I was extremely overwhelmed and nervous to start my first internship, but an intern who had been here for a couple weeks, (subtle hint: it was Kelsey), immediately put me at ease. She went out of her way to help the new interns understand our roles here because she knew exactly what we were feeling. 

I also cannot begin to explain how great my manager is. I could have never hoped for a better mentor for my first experience in the professional world. He has taught me so much and it was clear that he wants the best for all the interns, no matter where our careers take us. I made many new friends with the interns not only in my department, but in other departments as well. It was great learning alongside all of them.

You Learn Something New Every Day

Being that this was my first internship, I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. I have heard some internship horror stories from other people, so I was surprised at how excited I was after my first day. I started learning the second I walked in the door on my first day of training. 

For example, communication is key. I have always been the type of person to keep to myself, but I used this internship to really branch out. If you have a question or are confused about something, just ask! Everyone wants to help you learn.

Also, I had never heard of a PEO before this summer. A Professional Employer Organization, such as GMS, handles the non-revenue generating functions of a business – payroll, worker’s comp, benefits, and human resources. I didn’t know that this type of business existed and now I have spent an entire summer here learning about it. When people ask me about my internship, I get to explain it to them and teach them a little bit about this industry they may have never heard of before.

Making Memories

I never imagined I would be taking away so many memories from an internship. Yes, we worked, but we also had fun. Call block made us very competitive, but it pushed all of us to get better. Dave started off every intern meeting by blaring The Weeknd , we played ping pong in the basement, and we laughed at something different every day. Not to mention Mike Kahoe is the best boss around. GMS knows how to take care of its employees.

New Opportunities

There was a lot of freedom in this internship. My day was not always planned out for me, which allowed me to branch out and prioritize the tasks I wanted to work on. I even asked my manager if I could take on a side project of my own and he said to go for it! Not only was I learning something new, but I was bringing something new to GMS. 

Hopefully, future interns and even current employees can get something out of our work as well. I can’t express exactly how great my experience here has been these past nine weeks, but it sure has been amazing. Thank you to everyone at GMS for an unforgettable summer!

The Evolution of an Intern – Jessica Storey, Sales Intern

Coming into GMS, I did not know what to expect. Not only was this my first internship, this was my first time in an area where I did not have a lot of background knowledge. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but I knew coming in I needed to keep an open mind and absorb the information the best I could. 

The second I walked in the building; everyone was extremely welcoming. I never once felt out of place here at GMS. Being able to come into a new environment and still feel as if I have been working there for years, was comforting. 

Going All in on the Learning Experience

The first week of training was more than I had expected. I caught myself feeling discouraged when I did not automatically know everything. I had to remind myself that I came here to learn. After accepting the fact that I was not going to be an expert from the very beginning, I started to feel less stressed. 

The one area that I still stressed over was calling, especially when I did not know how to pitch our business with confidence. I remember Tim Austin saying GMS is all about diving into the water rather than slowly dipping your toes in the pool. Honestly, being thrown into the sales process was one of the best ways for me to learn. This approach forced me to do things I would not have normally done. Because I went all in, I was able to pick up on things a lot faster, which allowed me to move onto the next stage of learning.  

As the weeks went by, I got more skilled on the phone, which helped me land my first meeting with a great prospect. For someone who was extremely nervous and a little bit discouraged during the first week, this was a big deal. I am very hard on myself, so seeing my hard work and dedication slowly pay off was a reward in of itself.

Same Person, New Skills and Relationships

When I compare myself from the beginning to now, so much has changed. I am more confident in how I talk to people, sell our services, work our systems, and so much more. I have been able to grow and learn a side of sales I had never dealt with before. Being able to work alongside some of the top sales reps at GMS helped push me to accomplish my goals in hopes to become as good as they are one day. 

Not only have I been able to learn more about the selling process, I have met some amazing people and built strong relationships. Being able to connect with them on a personal level, turns going to work into something I look forward to doing every day. I cannot wait to continue working at GMS throughout my last semester of college.

For the future interns coming in, this can be intimidating at first. Just know that everyone at GMS is willing to help you. They had to be taught at the beginning too. I was in your spot a couple months ago, but now it feels as if I have been doing this for years. If you come in with an open mind and ready to learn, your successes will overpower your failures. Being able to know and accept that, will only make the learning process that much easier. Do not give up. Remember, it only takes one yes for success!

Lastly, I want to give a big thank you to GMS, but more specifically sales manager, Kate Carnahan. You have been such a role model for me this summer and I do not think I would have accomplished everything I did without your direction. The guidance and confidence you have given me this summer is something I will cherish for a lifetime. Thank you.

An Unconventional Internship – Kaitlyn Artz, Business Development Intern 

Reflecting on my experience at GMS, I cannot begin to express how much I have grown, personally and professionally, since the beginning of the summer. GMS has taught me that when a company is as great as this one, the atmosphere of the people that make up the company is what makes it so great. The individuals at GMS are not only professionals and hard workers, but also the most personable, friendly, and open-minded people I have ever met. I have made so many friends and connections and have felt that I had been warmly welcomed, appreciated and pushed to work hard. 

A Culture of Growth

During the summer of 2020 I was a remote Business Development Intern; my very first internship. Being remote meant I worked from my bedroom every day. Working from home is definitely a different experience and routine than I’ve ever had before. I was not in an office setting and did not have the motivation from seeing anyone else physically working. This tested my own ability to get things done and stay on task. Because of this, I saw myself growing in a whole new way. 

Even though I felt the GMS love through emails, group chats, and Zoom meetings pretty much daily, I had taken the opportunity to go visit the Richfield office for a few days to meet everyone in person and physically experience GMS. When I got there, I was welcomed with open arms and tons of laughter. It felt like going to visit my distant family. Without the like-minded people who were doing this internship aside me, advancing themselves professionally, and always so willing to help, this internship would have never been the same.

Something that I admire about the people at GMS is their ambition to grow. Whether it be flourishing as individuals, developing bonds and friendships, expanding and hiring new positions, increasing business, or just becoming the best GMS can be, the company is always growing. 

One project we focused on was record verifying. By verifying leads to make sure they are correct and accurate, this helps reduce time wasted on calling prospects that have incorrect or outdated information. In the long run, this helps sales reps have a better shot at talking to more companies’ decision makers and booking more appointments, which ultimately leads to having a better shot at landing more proposals and providing our services to more companies. Cleaning up Salesforce is only one way GMS is growing.

Key Takeaways from the Internship Experience

Some important life lessons I have learned from this internship:

  • Having a drive and setting goals is important! Be competitive with yourself.
  • Not every day can be a good one. Make this your motivation. Do better the next day!
  • Successful people do the things that failures don’t. – Tim Austin
  • Work hard, study hard, and be teachable! – Tim Austin
  • Attitude makes all the difference. Be positive and “Make today great!” – Dave Swift

I feel that I have learned so much that I will implement into my daily life. Following these lessons helped me improve personally and professionally. 

I am very thankful for the opportunity I was given to grow professionally and learn more about the business world. This wonderful company gave me an unforgettable experience for my first internship, and I appreciate all the people I have met along the way.

I am very excited to continue my journey throughout this fall as a part-time business development intern and to learn even more. Thank you, GMS.

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