My Accidental Summer Thesis: How Language Inspires Teamwork

I knew that during my internship at Hershey I would learn a lot of about the consumer packaged goods industry and the communications field, but one major lesson of my internship was something I did not expect.

At my internship, I felt as if my opinions and intellectual thoughts were incredibly valued. Being the self-reflective person that I am, I spent a large part of the summer trying to figure out what made me feel so valued and respected. What was encouraging me to raise an opinion or a question in a meeting of 20 experienced professionals? What was it that made me feel so empowered to have an opinion even though I was just an intern?

I set off brainstorming to try to answer the above, reflective questions and coincidentally started trying to crack the company’s secret to a collaborative culture. Of course there are many attributes and sentiments feeding Hershey’s sweet corporate culture, but through self-refection, I believe I have identified one aspect that fuels Hershey’s collaborative culture: language. From my first week to my last week, I heard people from various departments genuinely weave the following team-focused clauses into conversations and emails:

“Your recommendation is welcomed and appreciated.”

“Please advise.”

“We would like to leverage your skills.”

While everyone had their own distinct personalities and work ethics, people from all departments tended to sprinkle those inclusive, teamwork-focused statements into brainstorming and planning stages of projects. Furthermore, people responded positively in action to the collaborative language, myself included.

A collaborative approach is embedded in the culture far beneath the language. It was not a formality or a string of useless words when coworkers asked my thoughts on a project or an issue. It was a genuine request. And more often than not, my recommendations were considered and even influenced the end result.

After a few weeks, I also found myself genuinely adopting this language and approach. I also saw the quality of my work improve. I found that allowing myself to be wrapped into the culture gave me the collaborative lens to approach my work better.

When I spoke to one intern about her favorite aspect of Hershey, she talked about the people and the welcoming culture – that the people there were some of the coolest and smartest people she had ever met. Her statement resonated with me. We worked in different departments, but we still had the same understanding of the remarkable people who work there and feed the culture.

Thank you, Hershey, for introducing me to some of the coolest and smartest people. Thank you for teaching me the art of collaborating. Thank you for having an infectious, welcoming culture that inspires all who work there to do their very best and leverage opportunities. It truly was a sweet summer.

The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Hershey Company. This is my own, personal blog, which is not affiliated with The Hershey Company. #ImHershey

Feature photo by lostintheredwoods

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