As Talent Acquisition Intern, I work on creative content and use social media to highlight the SAP Internship Experience Project (SAP iXp) including activities, intern success stories, and our company culture. The internship program kicks off with the North America SAP iXp Summit, held on the program’s first week. This two-day event joins 250 interns from across the country to network with one another and learn from leaders across SAP. It includes various design thinking activities, presentations, and breakout sessions to welcome interns and inspire curiosity in their work during the next ten weeks.
To learn more about the impact of the Summit, I sat down with Sales Support Intern Dakota Newton to discuss how the experience expanded his horizons.
Dakota is a senior at the University of Washington at Bothell. He has a humble and positive spirit, and is passionate about finance, customer relations and personal growth. He seeks independence and has a love for wide open spaces just like his favorite place, Yellowstone National Park. These are some of the factors that drive his willingness to explore his vulnerability and roll with the punches while here at Concur.
As a sales support intern for small- to medium-sized networks at Concur, Dakota’s work mostly involves market research. His primary focus is to pinpoint which customers are contacted and how the business should move forward with those customer relationships. These types of questions are what drive Dakota’s finance-driven mindset to adapt to the sales market and work with customers. But he didn’t always feel this way.
“I was surprised when [Concur] told me I’d be doing sales,” he explains. “I never imagined I’d have the personality to do sales because [salespeople] are very personable with their customers. I’ve always been very analytical and numbers-based, but I thought I’d give it a shot.”
Dakota says the overall goal of a sales support intern is to “create strong partnerships and keep customers happy.” To his surprise, the role didn’t become what it appeared to be at first. “Turns out, [the job] is more on the numbers side anyway, or more of the qualitative data now.”
Despite any initial skepticism, he says he would have taken any position and run with it. This type of optimism is what led Dakota to realize the value he brings to Concur and its customers.
Sales Support Intern, Dakota Newton
iXp Summit Leads to CFO Chat
After the Summit, Dakota felt inspired to step out of his comfort zone and reach out to leaders within the company. He says that throughout the Summit, he heard members of the SAP iXp team encourage interns to feel free to follow up with speakers and email them.
“If we didn’t have the iXp Summit, I don’t think I would have sent an email,” he says. The first couple of days of his internship, he didn’t reach out to anyone. “I just sat with my head down, did my work, and went home at 4 p.m. I thought, ‘Oh no, is this going to be every day?’”
Dakota emphasizes that after the Summit, he felt charged to ask more questions. “It really opened me up to be more confident and know it’s okay to ask questions.”
In Dakota’s go-getter fashion, his mindset in reaching out to company leaders was, “why not start from the top?”
The first networking email he planned on sending was addressed to SAP Business Network Group CFO Marc Malone. The email sat in Dakota’s Outlook draft messages for three days before he finally hit send. “I had nothing to lose,” he thought. Dakota was shocked when he received a response from Marc that same day saying he would love to meet.
The two spent one morning discussing Dakota’s project, and, in addition, Marc gave him tips on meeting with other business leaders within the company.
“I think it’s important to remember that what you go to school for doesn’t have to be what you do,” Dakota says. Though, in Marc’s case, he did stay in the same professional field as his studies. Dakota notes that most people have similar experiences to his own, where they end up in roles they never thought of while in school.
“As long as you’re open-minded and taking the opportunities that present themselves, even if it’s outside your major, take them and see where it goes. Everyone I’ve talked to said, ‘just go with it.’ If it goes to a closed door, there’s more to try out.”
Drivers of Personal Growth
With an ability to try new things and the optimism to get him there, Dakota holds the “it’s now or never” mantra around his day-to-day decisions.
When asked what he’s most looking forward to for the rest of his internship, he gave a slight smile, and explained in a hesitant response: “There’s a [Power Hour] that I really had to force myself to do and that was the Presentation Speaking Skills. I had my cursor over it and I really didn’t want to do it, but you don’t get these opportunities all the time and you’re not going to get that unless you practice stuff. So now I’m excited for it.”
Dakota thrives in vulnerable situations and sees them as opportunities for personal growth. The opportunities Dakota has been offered throughout his internship thus far, whether that be two days of hearing powerful speakers, or learning opportunities in a specific subject, drive him to apply his newfound knowledge and open doors for himself.
Although these meetings and events may not feel natural to him, he is quickly learning that these opportunities greatly benefit his career. “It’s funny to think that every day you’re uncomfortable, you go home and you’re like, ‘that was a really good day,’” he says.
“Even though you’re kind of stressed out about the things you have to do, after you do them, you think: ‘That was pretty cool. I’d do that again,’” he adds.
We look forward to following Dakota’s growth and projects throughout the summer.
Follow our interns throughout the year on the iXp Twitter page and #MyiXpStory.