Business casual on the top, pajamas pants on the bottom. Like many, this season looked different for interns at Credera. Our internship program has notoriously built strong, capable leaders with extraordinary technical and business acumen. Due to the impact of COVID-19, however, we had to adjust our internship program and shift to a virtual model. Since this revised approach could not fit the needs of every expected intern, we wanted to create new opportunities to enhance the intern experience in the face of adversity.
Planning a Virtual Leadership Conference
Campus recruiting and internship experiences are the lifeblood of our firm, so our leadership team spent long nights brainstorming creative options to best serve the students impacted by the changes.
"In a fully virtual environment, we wanted to create a meaningful program to benefit any of our impacted students,” said Managing Partner Andrew Warden.
As a result, we made the decision to host an optional conference culminating at the end of the summer for all our 2020 interns. Ultimately, 20 high-performing students chose to join us from across the country for Credera’s first-ever Leadership Development Conference, hosted entirely over Microsoft Teams.
Our team put together a thoughtful program, intended to provide students the opportunity to learn universally applicable leadership skills. Our goal was to create a values-centric agenda that reflected the heart of Credera. Our CEO and president, Justin Bell, kicked off the event with a warm welcome and overview of the company.
A few of our favorite topics included:
Grit in the Workplace
Respecting Differences & Embracing Diversity Panel
Women in Leadership: The Keys to Modern Leadership
Giving & Receiving Feedback
Adulting: The Honest Truth Panel
Our primary goal was for the conference to have a positive impact on participants. In order to accomplish this, we intentionally focused our sessions on topics that weren’t Credera-specific, but instead would be applicable to students at all stages of life, no matter their career choice. Following the conference, several students graciously shared their thoughts with us:
“I learned multiple valuable lessons, and it kickstarted what will likely be months of reflection, reading, and self-growth. So, thank you for making me a better person.”
-Curtis Harrison, Colorado School of Mines
“These sessions included personal stories that perfectly related to the topic, showing the vulnerability and humility of the speaker. There were tangible takeaways that I can apply to my life to make a real change and/or improvement. Credera also addressed the pain points/important issues of our nation currently, demonstrating your care to understand others and desire to welcome everyone in.”
-Caroline Grace, Texas A&M
We recognized that sharing and experiencing our company’s unique culture could be challenging in an entirely remote environment. Throughout planning and executing an impactful virtual conference, our team learned three key things along the way:
Think bigger than your company: Our mission was to empower and equip young leaders to be successful in the field of their choosing post-graduation. Keeping our sessions broadly relevant allowed us to stay true to our purpose.
Live out your values: Creating an agenda centered around our core values allowed us to share our culture in an authentic way.
Play to your strengths: At Credera, we know our greatest asset is our people and we care deeply about their development. We decided to use that passion to invest in the future leaders of tomorrow by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of Credera leaders to provide meaningful content.
Overall, the positive feedback and lessons learned in our inaugural year of Credera’s Leadership Development Conference have inspired us to make this an annual addition to our internship program, continually evolving in the years to come. Learn more about our upcoming opportunities for students.
Coming out of the conference, we compiled a list of books and podcasts for all of our participants, recommended by our presenters. We hope you enjoy:
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael Porter
Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni
The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto
The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford
Measure What Matters by John Doerr
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp
Robert Ballard's The Astonishing Hidden World of the Deep Ocean