Updated: Jun 2
When the idea of me writing a post about my observations and learnings as an intern for the Simply Strategy blog was first brought up at our weekly team meeting, my initial response was brief terror. But I recovered quickly and began to wrestle with the question of how to even describe Simply Strategy. No doubt their internal mantra applies – data-driven problem-solvers who do hard things. While that accurately expresses what they do, for me, it doesn’t capture the vibe.
Instead, I would use the following analogy. Most of us can all think of at least one powerful woman we look up to. For some it’s their mom, for others a professor, mentor, or a friend. Imagine now that you’ve taken that woman–the strongest, most resilient, most determined woman you know–and you’ve multiplied her by five. That’s what it feels like to walk into the office at Simply Strategy.
My favorite thing about the team (besides their willingness to let me pull an April Fool’s prank, a story for another time) is how everyone has unique skill sets that complement one another.
Elyse is operations-minded and detail-orientated, and I think that allows her the ability to separate the parts from the whole in order to effectively solve a problem or take on a project from start to finish. She also has her Master of Social Work, and it is evident in how she processes and implements ideas. Despite her methodical nature, she always factors in the human aspect of problems and solutions.
Jenny is a true Woman in STEM. She is skilled in statistical evaluation and experienced in multiple research and analysis software programs. She designs our clients’ complex quantitative surveys and leads the analysis and interpretation of those studies. Those of us less statistically inclined find the software platforms she effortlessly navigates daunting, especially when we see the clarity of her output from categorizing and characterizing insights to our clients.
Anna is an analyst, but she also has advanced degrees in anthropology and public health. I think that these additional areas of study have allowed her to analyze and research in a way that considers both empirical data as well as ethnological aspects of problems. As such, she is able to recognize the human impact of hard data.
Reggi has many skill sets, but what stands out most to me is her passion. She cares so much about our work, and you can tell she puts her heart and soul into every project she works on. She’s a grounding force, constantly reminding us of the tangible impacts of our work and projects on so many people.
And then there’s Dorothy. One of the most impressive women I’ve ever met, she works in a very matter of fact, stream of consciousness way, utilizing her to-do list and diplomatic tendencies to guide and lead the team. She is able to keep her eyes on the prize, so to speak, by maintaining an understanding of her big picture ambitions and plans. Her work style is particularly fun for me, as I work in the exact same way. Our big joke is that we have the same type of brain and sardonic sense of humor, and it leads to top tier banter when it’s just the two of us in the office.
Being surrounded by such talent in this internship has been inspiring. While I could go on and on about the practical experience I’m gaining – for example, I’ve learned how to use the world “leverage” in casual conversation (she says dryly) – I think the practical benefits of this internship are far outweighed by the greater emotional and interpersonal aspects.
There is a persistent narrative in society that insists that women do not work well together. We see it in movies, in political rhetoric, and even in academia. For me, this idea has been force fed to me through soccer, with every male coach I’ve ever had addressing how we needed to be vigilant about team “drama” because women are so “sensitive” and “prone to conflict.” That is not what I have observed with the women at Simply Strategy.
Being in an environment where I am not only able to watch such powerful women collaborate and utilize one another’s strengths to solve tangible issues, but having the opportunity to then learn from them on a daily basis and have them mentor me? That’s what makes this an invaluable internship, and I am so grateful that the cards fell into place the way they did to allow me end up here.
~ Mary Frances
Mary Frances West is a Communications and Projects Intern with Simply Strategy.