For the week, I was the new kid on the block. The newbie. The rookie. For my generation, the “noob.” “Don’t take yourself too seriously, kid, you’re just an intern” was the prevailing beat on the street for the week. I was the experiment in an intern exchange program; I would be a temporary addition to the team of four male interns currently employed by Lipman, North America’s largest field tomato grower.
We spent the week on Fripp Island, South Carolina and devoted our time to studying Lipman’s farms, packing houses, sales department and everything in-between. We even took a try at picking tomatoes … not as easy as it would appear! Our week’s goal: to learn as much as possible and detect any kinks in the operation.
Now that the week is over and I’ve returned to city life, the thing that I remember most about Lipman was the relaxed, home-style company culture. Everyone was an important part of the team and was treated with the utmost respect. Lipman is a family-owned and operated business, perhaps this underscores the “when you’re here, you’re family” corporate culture I so enjoyed?
The first-name basis aspect of the business sets the tone. A one-on-one tour of a packing house led by Chairman Larry Lipman, among other things, provided me an insider’s view of the company’s inner workings. Even though I was just a lowly intern, Mr. Lipman used his time to give me and my fellow interns a private tour of one of the company’s most important functions.
This is why I fell in love with the culture at Lipman. Each employee is considered vital to the overall success of the operation and is treated as one of the family- perhaps a testament to how the company has expanded over the last 70 years and continues to thrive in a down economy.
I learned a lesson that is important for any industry- but specifically public relations and marketing, where we’re often assigned the task of becoming a “storyteller.” You must immerse yourself in a company’s culture to really see what it’s all about. The ability to link everyday account tasks – from research and media planning to copywriting and video editing – back to a client’s beliefs provides an invaluable amount of clarity. So, whether it’s reading trade publications for an industry that’s foreign to you…or taking a trip out to the farm – learning about a company’s roots can give you the insight it takes to succeed.
And one more thing I learned … don’t let four male interns do the grocery shopping unaccompanied!
When Grace Madsen isn’t out picking tomatoes on the farm, she’s spending her summer as a Costa DeVault intern.