Melissa Tirado, Senior Marketing Manager for Audible Canada, says she could “write a five page report about how amazing” her intern Teslimah Ojifinni is—but, to summarize, “she just gets it.”
Since Teslimah joined Audible as part of our Newark high school internship program two years ago, she’s been an integral asset to her team. “She’s a tremendous self-starter, has better PowerPoint skills than mine, takes ownership of presentations and isn’t afraid to ask questions,” Melissa says proudly.
Teslimah, a rising Audible Scholar who recently graduated from Newark’s Science Park High School and who will be attending Harvard University in the fall, wasn’t expecting a business environment to be so warm, nor was she expecting to be so integrated into her colleagues’ work right away. “My first impression was that people were very open and friendly, that their interactions went way beyond a casual ‘hi.’” Her first lesson from Melissa, too, surprised her and challenged her idea of the workplace as cold and cutthroat. “She told me that even though the emails and promotions we work on get delivered through the screen, there are people behind that and we have to consider those people first.”
In addition to keeping the customer top-of-mind in the presentations and email campaigns she assists on, Melissa has made it a point to get Teslimah working with the whole team. From merchandising titles to writing editorial reviews to delving into member acquisition, Teslimah says, “they didn’t see my youth as a deterrent to anything, they made me feel really valued, whereas a lot of times most adults think young people don’t know much.” So much so that Teslimah would often have to remind the team she couldn’t attend some meetings because she was in high school full-time.
But Teslimah and Melissa’s relationship has extended beyond work tasks. Teslimah has turned to Melissa for advice on life outside the office, from college plans to prom. “When I was 16, 17, I didn’t even think to reach out to a mentor,” Melissa says. “Giving her an outside perspective,” from making pro and con lists about where to apply to school to sending Teslimah potential scholarships to apply to, “is really satisfying.”
And though Teslimah is interested in studying neuroscience at Harvard University and becoming a doctor rather than working in marketing, Melissa’s guidance has equipped her with skills she says “transcend the laptop. I am definitely more proactive and better at communicating and asking questions,” which Teslimah knows will help her in interactions with future college classmates, colleagues and patients.
Now in her second year of interning on Melissa’s team, Teslimah would tell new Audible interns that “the experience is more than the coding, Excel and technical skills you gain here.” She encourages her peers to really talk to their managers and not be shy. “They have unique experiences” to share, and, she says, “If you are lucky like me, life-changing advice and a good sense of humor. Melissa Tirado is an indescribably amazing manager who cemented for me my ability to contribute to the world.”