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Abigail Von Bank | July 24, 2020

If we’re writing a New Book of Work in 2020, as I think we are, we ought to spend time with digital natives who grew up with a direct connection to the whole world. Think about that. If you don’t remember a time without the internet, smartphones, social media, and technology as a routine part of everyday life, the lens through which you view WORK and how it’s DESIGNED is vastly different than digital immigrants who need to wrap our heads around Then v. Now.

We scooped up Abigail Von Bank for a digital student internship this summer. This blog series is where she shares her experiences.

Marissa: Hey, Abigail, I got to spend time with you during your second week at Leapgen. I can so relate to observing HR and the HR Technology space as an outsider coming in. I was new to HR when I came to Leapgen, and even though I had previous sales and technology experience, I felt like a fish out of water until I learned “HR-speak.” One of the most valuable lessons we can provide young people entering the World of Work in the next five years is learning how to learn. How do you learn best?

Abigail: I have to hear someone else talking about whatever the subject matter may be first, then I try to take notes on everything I can. I might not understand what I’m writing down at the time, but as the lessons progress and I review my notes, things tend to come together. I review my notes and reword them into how I would explain it to someone else or make it into an analogy if I can. I find that trying to explain it to someone else helps me gain a better understanding of the topic because I have to think about it in different lights. Or I try to simplify it as much as I can and work on the details after I see the big picture. I need an outline for the puzzle before I start trying to piece it together.

Marissa: I hear you shadowed a podcast recording during your second week, even recorded the introduction for the episode! I can’t wait to hear it when it’s released. Did you ever imagine there were so many different things going on inside a business, like podcast production? Is anything else surprising you about the inner workings of a business?

Abigail: I never realized how many gears there are to keep businesses moving. I knew they had to have something to advertise themselves so they could stay known and stay in business, but podcasts and webinars never really came to mind. I also knew you had to be and stay connected, but the amount of effort and multiple platforms used to create and maintain connections is amazing. I have my phone and two different computers synced up with one email which includes Google drive, calendar, Zoom, and a Slack account. For some of you that’s nothing, but I have three email accounts on my phone: personal, school, and now an internship one. Also, the fact that companies each have different, preferred ways of being contacted has to be difficult to keep track of. Especially if one person at a company prefers emails while another prefers texts, and you have to keep in touch with both of them. What also amazes me is all the tech used. You can see how much time your team is spending on a specific project and whether or not it will overload them next week based on the data of past weeks.

Marissa: The podcast guest you listened to wasn’t much older than you; Chelsea Abii is a budding law student at Emory University who champions allyship, diversity, social reform and the power of mentorship. Knowing what you stand for is really powerful when you start working for an employer whose values and ideals you hope will align with your own. Is that something your generation thinks about when you imagine finishing school and entering the world of work in a few years?

Abigail: This is different for everybody. Some of us have an ideal workplace in our head; others haven’t thought about it. I think I can honestly say my generation needs to be educated on the world of work and the cultures you would find there. We’re used to the immediate gratification the internet provides, and if we want to try and bring change to the workplace, that change is going to take time we aren’t always used to. Many of us know what we stand for, but it’s a matter of finding that or creating that in the world of work.

Marissa: Let’s have a little fun and turn the tables. Ask me anything. Is there any advice you’d like from me as you continue learning and working alongside us this summer?

Abigail: What are some strategies for growing my communication abilities? Though Slack and other platforms can be huge for communication where do you see them fall short? Did you have to change anything about the way you communicate when you began your time in HR?

Marissa: Great question! You are absolutely correct, communication platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or other collaboration tools are great. It’s by far the easiest and fastest way to communicate in real time — other than a call or Zoom meeting, of course. But they can be great almost to a fault if overused, or if used when the conversation should really be had over a call or otherwise. It can be too easy to rely on these tools, and we risk missing opportunities to truly connect with someone. My advice for making the best use of these tools is to use them to communicate with your team and others in the network for quick conversations and updates or to say hi or give a virtual high five when the opportunity arises. But don’t forget there’s nothing more powerful than REALLY talking to someone and having a face-to face (virtual or in person) conversation, actually hearing someone’s voice over the phone. In response to your second question: overall, communication is about knowing your audience. I may have picked up some cool HR lingo in my time with Leapgen, but the way I fundamentally communicate hasn’t changed. I try to adapt my communication style to the people I am communicating with and try to mirror them.

Marissa: So Abigail, this is such an interesting time for you to gain this experience! The whole world has changed so much in the past few months. Much of the work we do for organizations is now even more meaningful as we find ourselves all working from home with all the distractions that brings. How has this adjustment felt to you? Is it harder to work from home (you or your parents)? What helps to make it easier for you?

Abigail: For me personally, it’s harder to work from home, and I think it is for my mom, too. Having my learning environment where I essentially adopt a different mindset separate from my home is important. The home means I can turn off my brain for a little bit or at least slow down a notch; school means I need to be learning and thinking fast, and those two don’t mix well. It was really hard to take the at-school mindset and keep it intact at home. Though I do have to recognize that each space has their own detractions, it’s just a matter of what work can be done best in which space. What made it a bit easier was that my mom was trying to work, too, and we would try to keep each other focused and on task. Video chatting with friends to go through the homework together also made it easier because, as I mentioned earlier, trying to explain a topic to someone else helps me to better understand it. It has been hard, but I think I’ve gotten better at separating it all and accomplishing what I need to. This internship was definitely easier to fall into a work mindset after I had to do that for online learning.

Marissa: Knowing what you do now after a few weeks of getting to know Leapgen, what do you hope to do while you are here?

Abigail: I hope to gain a better understanding of the world of work, gauge my skill set, and hopefully improve and expand my skills. I also want to become more aware of the type of connections I can create and how to foster them. I’m gaining knowledge of personas and ways to communicate effectively among them. I also hope to learn how to be an effective leader.



Abigail Von Bank is Leapgen’s first digital student intern. She’s entering her senior year of high school with plans to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead. She’s considering a major in education with interest in becoming a chemistry teacher, but she’s still trying to figure that out.  Abigail is on her school’s speech team and in a club called Philanthropy and Youth. Her top five strengths are empathy, communication, ideation, relator, and developer. She spends her summers volunteering at a nursing home and in a summer job as an assistant teacher for College for Kids at MSUM. She enjoys photography and painting, and she’s getting her first experience of business and the world of work with Leapgen.

Marissa Franco, Vice President of Business Development, brings over 10 years sales and business development experience to Leapgen. Prior to joining the Leaper family, Marissa worked for various financial technology firms where she managed strategic partnerships and drove enterprise growth. She is passionate about building meaningful client relationships and solving complex business problems through efficiency and engagement. Marissa enjoys traveling with her husband and two children, Lily and Liam. She’s a technology lover and dedicated yogi.

Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the future of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business.

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