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An Intern's Perspective: Onboarding at Hawthorne

One of our new interns, Anna VanWingerden, shares her thoughts on the onboarding process at Hawthorne and gives her firsthand experience.



Starting something new is never easy.


New experiences bring excitement and opportunity, but they also tend to come along with a sinking feeling that settles deep in your gut. When you walk into a new building, into a new job, into a team of people who already know one another and have a camaraderie rooted in joint experiences, that feeling permeates your whole body and make every muscle tense up as you walk blindly into something unknown.


That was the feeling I had on the morning of my first day as an intern at Hawthorne Strategy Group. I woke up with a steady flutter in my chest that stayed with me as I walked down the streets of Chicago to a place I had never been to. Riding the elevator made that fluttering even more rapid and intense, and it only increased as the doors opened and I walked timidly up to the office. As I met my now colleagues and shook their hands, I worried profusely about saying the wrong thing or not having a strong enough handshake. However, something became very clear to me quickly after my arrival–I had absolutely no reason to be afraid.


The team at Hawthorne is full of warm smiles and energized laughter. They welcomed me into their little family so quickly I didn’t even realize that within the span of one day, I already felt at home. At lunch that first day, they explained inside jokes and asked me questions about my interest in public relations. Later that afternoon, I sat in on my first team meeting and had the privilege of talking with the CEO of Hawthorne, Cynthia McCafferty. It’s uncommon for an intern to be integrated into a company so quickly, which is why I was grateful for what I could tell would be a profound and unique experience.


Aside from simply being kind and welcoming, the Hawthorne team also quickly helped me get my head above water. Rather than simply giving me a stack of random tasks to drown in, I was gradually onboarded to several different accounts and given time to educate myself on the work that all of our clients do. I sat in on meetings with fellow team members who took time to answer my questions, familiarized myself with a plethora of past resources and materials, and began to feel steady on my feet again in a short span of time.


I have only been at Hawthorne for a few weeks, but I can already say with certainty that this is a group of people who genuinely care about each other and about the work they do. I believe it is a testament to the kind of company they are that I was able to be onboarded so quickly and with such ease. On a daily basis, I now find myself conversing happily with my team members about weekend plans, writing blog posts and social media content, and connecting with clients who we do valued work for.


Even though starting something new is never easy–especially as an intern–Hawthorne has made it as seamless as it can possibly get.



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