The main reason I wanted to intern at redpepper is their core value of “actively supporting personal growth.”  This says a lot, because there are a million reasons I wanted to intern at redpepper, from hanging out with dogs while working everyday, to drinking beer while listening to one of our awesome employees give a Ted Talk-style presentation (called a redbit) during Alignment on Wednesdays.  However, as someone who has never had a job in marketing, is graduating from college in a few short months and was not really sure how I would fit into this industry, being empowered to learn and grow by a group of intelligent, creative marketers is what really sold me on working here.    

Obviously, having the leaders of a company come up with a list of key values, post them on their website, and display them around the office does not necessarily mean the company is truly living these values.  However, from day one working at redpepper, it was clear that this was not the case. If there was something we wanted to focus learning more about or a skill that we wanted to improve on, we would have the support to do so.    

To make sure you grow and develop in the right direction, I believe there are three things you need to stress: study yourself, make a plan, and keep an open mind.

Study Yourself

As on any journey, you need to know what your starting point is before you can begin working towards your destination.  The same holds true for personal development.  Having a better understanding of who you are, how you work best, and what your strengths and weaknesses are will help you determine where and how you want to grow.  

One of the ways redpepper encourages learning more about yourself that I found most intriguing are DiSC assessments.  We filled them out on our first day of work.  The DiSC is a behavioral assessment tool helps provides an overview of individual workplace priorities and preferences.  

Now, a company can simply say they are committed to personal growth, hand out these assessments and encouraging employees to read their results and pat themselves on the back for a job well done.  But, that is not the redpepper way.  We live our value of personal growth.  Interns meet with their mentors to discuss each of their different styles so they better understand what drives and motivates each other.  In my short time here (just coming up on two months), I have been required to attend three different meetings with Mary, our amazing management consultant.  

These meetings were helpful for me to better understand my DiSC style as an Si, what motivates me and what is stressful for me in the workplace.  Having a discussion with Mary and other redpepper employees about my profile also helped me identify patterns in my own behavior that I had never noticed before.  For example, we talked about Si’s disposition to being bad at saying no to other people.  While in the back of my mind I probably had always known this, talking about it with others helped me to consciously recognize it as something that I struggle with.  Gaining information like this was really beneficial in my understanding of my strengths, weaknesses, and in what areas I want to grow.  (For more information on DiSC profiles, visit https://www.discprofile.com/what-is-disc/overview/)

DiSC is just one tool in the process of learning more about yourself.  We are all constantly changing. To have the best understanding of who we are and where we want to go, it is key to take time and reflect, both by ourselves and with others.          

Make and Stay Committed to your Growth Plan

All redpepper interns meet with their mentor during their first two weeks to create a growth plan identifying reasonable and actionable ways in which we can grow during our time here.  To be honest, it would be easier to mail in this growth plan and forget about it a few weeks in once your daily work starts to pile up.  But, you can also view it as the amazing opportunity it is to learn and develop in almost anyway you want.  Take time to really think about what you want to personally accomplish before you meet with your mentor to write a formal plan.  Once you have the plan, it is entirely up to you if you are going to accomplish the goals you set.  That being said, if you ask for help, anyone and everyone at redpepper will be happy to oblige.  

The point is that you need to take the initiative and ask.  Ask your mentor to meet with you once a week to talk about how your growth plan is going.  Ask someone on a different project you want to learn about if you can sit in on meeting or help with tankfilling.  Ask someone in a different department to teach you about what they are an expert in whether it's project management, designing ads, or writing copy.  EVERYONE at redpepper is an expert in something and they all want to help you grow.  That is what makes them redpeppers! 

You also need to be committed in order to grow.  Something Tim, our CEO, told us during a Coffee and Questions session is that you don’t change yourself significantly unless you change yourself daily.  When making your growth plan, you should create a vision of how you want to be at the end of the plan.  If your vision is to be a better writer, then take time to write everyday.  Having weekly meetings with your mentor to talk about your growth is a great way to help make sure that you are on track to accomplishing your goals.    

Keep an Open Mind

Another thing Tim shared with us that really stuck with me is to try to stop thinking about different ideas or processes as right vs. wrong, but rather as different vs. different.  I think this is really important in personal growth and also fits to one of our other core values: “If we aren’t changing, were dying.”  In order to grow, we need to accept that the way we approach problems or come up with ideas could be done differently and maybe more effectively.  redpepper aims to be the most innovative marketing company in our industry, and the only way we can accomplish this goal is if we are willing to take risks and fail in order to grow.

I have been lucky enough to be involved in a new team evaluation feedback initiative during my time here.  Feedback is a vital aspect of growth, but it is useless unless you are open minded when receiving it.  If someone takes the time to help you understand how you might have done better on a project, and you view this feedback as what you did wrong rather then what you could have done differently, it will not help you grow.  But if you are open minded enough to admit that a different method could potentially have lead to a better outcome, then you will be more willing to take a risk and try a new approach, growing in the process.  

People at redpepper are smart, experienced, and want to help you become better!!  Take advantage, and Hustle and Grow! 

Matt Tussing, Scarsdale, NY, Production Services Intern

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