By Emily Jenks

After an adventure-filled semester abroad in Thailand, I returned to San Luis Obispo already a third of the way through my junior year at Cal Poly. My time in SLO had felt like a whirlwind of excitement, and I was truly shocked to find myself over halfway done with my undergraduate education. I had an internship experience under my belt and another lined up for the summer prior to my senior year, but I was still itching to get more hands-on experience in the professional world with graduation just around the corner. That’s when I learned about Collaboration.

As I look back on my time at Collaboration, what really strikes me is the integrity of their core values and mission statement, which had initially motivated me to apply for their intern position. As a typical practice, I research the companies I’m interviewing for and I remember reading about their mission to inspire, educate and empower proactive leaders to achieve breakthrough performance, and their core values to be relationship centered, relentless learners, creatively disciplined, and outcome driven. Sounds pretty good right? But in all honesty, I am a skeptic, and I know a lot of companies advertise their values and mission, but don’t really embed their guiding principles in the day-to-day in any noticeable way. That’s the magic of Collaboration. During the past several months, I have experienced how Collaboration lives and breathes by these principles, and I believe this is what sets Collaboration apart.

Collaboration Consulting Intern - Emily JenksI am a full-time student at Cal Poly majoring in Business with a concentration in management and minors in Industrial Technology and Statistics. That being said, balancing a full course load with my work at Collaboration could be challenging at times. What kept me going was the fact that the work I did at Collaboration was real. I was able to take everything I was learning about in the classroom and apply it to real companies, add real value, and see real results. Coming to work was fun, challenging, and engaging. It felt like a fun release from my school work. My work at Collaboration included a variety of tasks to assists the lead consultants with clients, and a few larger projects. Michael, founder of Collaboration, helped me discover that one of my strengths is summarizing data and information into higher level models and reports that anyone can read and understand. Knowing your own strengths is a valuable tool, I’m thankful to Michael and Collaboration for helping me recognize mine.

Through it all, the team at Collaboration always stayed true to their values of being relentless learners and relationship centered. They valued and respected the work I did in the office and in the classroom. They were extremely accommodating with my school work, they let me switch up my schedule to make my professor’s office hours, and gave me time off during finals week. I had great trust in my team that they always had my best interests in mind. They were constantly checking in to see how I was doing, if my workload was manageable, and ensuring I had everything I needed to be successful. It was a remarkable experience to be a part of a team that so genuinely embraced their core values in everything they did.

I am nearing the end of my undergraduate career, but still lingering in my head were the questions: What does it take to run a successful business? What are the best practices for most effectively managing a team? I had read plenty of textbooks with varying perspectives, but these ideas were still churning around in my head, without anything concrete to stick to. Over the past several months, Collaboration has taken me leaps and bounds closer to answering these questions. They have invested in me as a person and unlocked a goldmine of knowledge that I will take with me as I launch into my career, and hopefully run my own company one day.

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