Having finished my second year at uni I was looking for some summer work experience. My sister Imogen works at Genie and made me aware of a summer internship role. After applying I got an email saying: “Imogen told me you're interested in doing an internship here at Genie - thank you for your interest. We could have you here at Genie Goals looking to help in a bunch of different areas including events management, marketing, admin and perhaps even some PPC work.”
As the marketing industry has always appealed to me I jumped at the chance and moved to Cambridge. The date quickly came around and I couldn’t have been more excited. After climbing what seemed an excessive number of stairs I arrived in the office. The greeting I received was second to none, thanks mostly to the “speed dating” process: a great opportunity to ingratiate myself with my new colleagues and crack a couple of terrible jokes so everyone knew how un-funny I was.
A “date” is a 15-minute conversation with each team at Genie, in which I was asked a selection of questions varying from “What do you study at university?” to “If you were to describe yourself as a sandwich, what sandwich would you be and why?” They aren’t there to catch you out, or make you stutter – just to help make you feel at home. After answering them I began to realise they actually did want to know what sandwich I would be!
Getting involved: The Genie Academy
I was keen to be a help rather than a burden and after a slow day learning the ropes and getting in the way I quickly learned and adapted. On only my second day I was enrolled into the Genie Academy with some other developing employees – an extensive internal training programme that helps new starters learn how we do things “the Genie way”.
We studied the fundamentals of Microsoft Excel and how it is paramount to some of the more technical operations at Genie: I was already developing skills at Genie and being given the opportunity to prove myself in an area I thought I wouldn’t even touch.
This was closely followed by an assignment which would take me to the end of the day. Assigner Chris offered to help anytime: “Just send me a message on chat if you get stuck, and I'll pop straight over and help out.” I feel it’s very important in an internship to make sure you make use of this type of offer and show your willingness to learn – and it’s rare to get this level of personal support on an internship.
Inspiring success: A unique culture
There’s a culture at Genie I’ve not experienced at any other workplace. There is a hierarchy at every workplace, but what’s different at Genie is the rather laissez-faire management style. I’d read about this style of leadership at university, but never had the pleasure of being involved in it.
Laissez-faire is a French phrase meaning ‘let do’ and in practice involves inspiring success without the crippling autocratic management you see in many workplaces. It creates an environment of work that can be (and seems to be at Genie) appreciated by all. Instead of your superior saying “Do X” or “Which is best, X or Y?”, you are asked to complete X and Y as you see fit, which leaves you with the freedom to complete work and prioritise tasks using your own abilities and knowledge.
This culture makes being an intern here incredibly practicable (when paired with a good brain and a sense of intrinsic reward from your work of course!).
But it’s not all work…
For a person in my circumstances, a social aspect to my new job was very important. I’ve always been fluent with new people, so making friends at work was the obvious first step to creating a social life for myself in Cambridge.
Genie helped make this easy for me. My second day at work was a Friday and, as in many workplaces, there’s a tradition of heading out after work. But if there’s a good enough reason (such as welcoming a new employee) a team can leave early too – so I used this time to properly naturalise myself with my new colleagues.
It’s hard to be totally prophetic on the relationships I’ve developed, but let’s just say the Genie way of socialising is full of laughs and benevolence.
So – are YOU a Genie?
My time here is unfortunately limited, so I can only cogitate on what the future holds for budding new Genies. But I do think about an oft-heard question here, especially during the hiring process: “Are they a Genie?”
Along with the underlying requirements of the job the most important qualification a person can bring to interview is not a qualification; it’s being a Genie-type of person. As my weeks here have gone by I’ve felt the sensation of “being a Genie” envelope me and change the way I handle my work – and it’s a change I’ve welcomed and enjoyed.
I’m not sure I’ll ever know the exact recipe, but I learn more about what it means every day. For me it is, “To not develop the person, but to inspire their thirst for development”. But I think this meaning changes for each employee – and what can be more refreshing and inspiring than that?