This month's blog article was featured in the October 2021 issue of our digital newsletter, Aspire Wire. To receive future Aspire Wire emails, please subscribe here.

by Jack Lewis, MEd
Associate Program Manager, Aspire Works

Aspire’s long-running Internship program offers neurodiverse participants a unique opportunity to build essential on-the-job professional skills while being supported by our experienced career coaches. Employers who place our interns work with Aspire staff throughout the internship session to create a positive and fulfilling work experience for all involved. This month’s featured article is an interview with one of our Internship participants, Marla Windman, who worked at Fidelity on the Product Marketing Team in Workplace Investing during the summer session. Jack Lewis, Associate Program Manager, Aspire Works, conducted the interview.

Jack:  What are 3 highlights from your internship experience?
Marla: I got to work in a professional setting at Fidelity. I had never worked in a corporate office before and it was fun to participate in many meetings within a team. Going into the Boston office was also very cool. It was a fun place. There’s a roof deck, dance classes, they eat lunches up there, and a garden with places to relax. The building was clean, an open concept, and the location was perfect for commuting. The team that I worked for was welcoming, worked on amazing projects, and always very kind. I was nervous not knowing what to expect and felt underqualified before I started. However, as my internship went on, I felt more and more part of the team and knew I deserved to be there.

Jack:  What are the top 3 things you learned during your internship that you can bring to your next position? 
Marla:  I learned a lot about graphic design work. I edited other people’s work, worked on layouts, and used Adobe Acrobat. I became more flexible using Microsoft Office specifically PowerPoint. I learned how to change the sizes of the canvas which was helpful in my work.  I also gained many professional communication skills such as improving the headers of emails, organizing files and improving the naming convention of them, and learning how to network with higher-ups at the company.

Jack:  What support from career coaching did you find most beneficial to you?
Marla:  It was nice to be able to talk to someone about the work I was doing, someone who was not a part of the company. It was nice because I wasn’t self-conscious about what I was saying. I didn’t want to say something that could go against company policy. I felt comfortable within these meetings.

Jack:  How has the relationship evolved between you and your employer/manager?
Marla:  My relationship with my manager grew a lot throughout my internship. I always felt comfortable reaching out over email, slack, etc. We plan to have a team meet up in the fall!

Jack:  What advice would you give to future Aspire interns?
Marla:  Make sure you write down the names of the people you worked with or connect with people on LinkedIn right after you meet them. It is beneficial because recruiters will see your network and if you have more people in your network it will help you moving forward. Also, always be confident and know that you earned your spot in an internship. You shouldn’t be nervous that people are going to judge you.

Jack: What has Aspire done for you and your growth during this internship?
Marla: Aspire really helped me come out of my shell and know that I belong in the work I was doing. Jack and I had conversations about how I was one of thousands chosen for this internship and that boosted my confidence throughout the whole internship.

Jack:  What is your most positive memory from your internship experience?
Marla:  On the second to last day of my internship, everyone on the team went around and said something nice or memorable about me. Some examples were, out of the box thinker, speaks her mind, genuine, a great perspective to get ideas from, and a great laugh!