If I could describe my  internship experience so far this summer, it would be one word: growth. Growth by pushing myself to learn at every opportunity I come across with an open mind. Growth in stepping outside my comfort zone and making the push to give 110%. This is not school anymore and everything does not revolve around stopping once you receive an “A”. The assignments are not defined or limited to a rubric; you get out as much as you would like to put in, which makes the workplace significantly different than a classroom. This is the ongoing theme I find myself in as an intern at CDK Global, as I prepare for my senior year of college.

My name is Chris Ellis and I go to Northwood University, where I am involved in more than just getting good grades in the classroom. I am the President of American Marketing Association, and am a member of the honor society, Order of Omega and Kappa Sigma Fraternity. I also tutor students in subjects such as Statistics and English. The company I am working at is located in Downtown Detroit and they design and implement marketing strategies for General Motor’s Car Dealership’s websites.

With this being my third internship, I am still taking advantage of any learning opportunity I possibly can throughout my time before I leave college to become a member of the workforce. This summer I have been pushing myself to go the extra mile in all of my tasks in an effort to grow as a professional and make as large of an impact as I can within the organization. A normal week for me begins with analyzing a new dealership website. From there, using internal and external resources, I find a weakness that can be developed into an opportunity using analytics, digital marketing trends, and automotive best practices. I compile all of this information and insight to tell a story through a presentation to the management team. This is helping to sharpen my critical thinking skills and presenting skills, as well as allowing me to learn how to cultivate a thorough digital marketing plan.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that disruption can be a good thing. Disruption to me means going off the beaten path to bring a problem to the attention of someone or an organization that will add value, even if that was not necessarily asked of you. If the only thing you learn is to run with the heard, you will just become another sheep. You must learn and interact more than is expected. It also can be summed up as being enthusiastic to ask questions, being a positive force to connect with and make meaningful connections with full-time employees. Without these type of internship experiences, lessons and skills like these would come later or possibly never through schooling itself.

This summer is proving to be a big step in my life where I am developing even more personally and professionally. I plan to continue to act as a sponge and absorb as much information I can from the intelligent people around me, and dive into challenges to see them as a chance to get outside my comfort zone. I owe this experience to my colleagues at CDK Global, Northwood University, and the desire to develop to the next level.