Kindness goes a long way when it comes to working with people. It can even win over a tough customer, as Camille Echols has seen on the job as a management trainee at Enterprise Holdings. “Some people are going to come into the car rental branch determined to have a negative experience, but remaining polite usually ends up turning the customer experience around,” she says.
This is the kind of hands-on experience that Echols was hoping to receive through Enterprise’s Management Training Program. She’s also been given the opportunity to lead her own team at a branch location in Bordentown, NJ, and share what she’s learning with her direct reports. “Once I really learn something, I can effectively explain it to someone else, and watching my explanations make sense to another person is the icing on the cake,” Echols says.
Here, Echols talks about what she’s learned so far as a management trainee at Enterprise Holdings, how asking questions has helped her succeed at work, and why you should be “a sponge” when you’re starting your career.
What initially attracted you to the Management Trainee Program at Enterprise Holdings? How do you think it will help you in your career?
I wanted to learn more about being a better manager of people. I believe the Management Trainee Program is helping me learn how to remain calm under pressure and still deliver stellar results. Every day is going to be different, and I’ve learned how to easily switch gears to go where I’m needed.
What was the hiring and onboarding process like when you joined the program?
The hiring process was pretty quick. The fact that there were three interviews was a little nerve-racking because I couldn’t tell what was going to happen next, but now that I’m on the other side of it, I realize that the interviews help ensure new hires really fit in with the culture here.
During my onboarding process, I got a chance to learn the basics from two management trainees, and then I got a more well-rounded view and a deeper dive into my responsibilities from my managers. This is a fast-paced, sink-or-swim environment, and I think I thrive here because of the type of learner I am. I like to be aware of what’s going on around me so I ask millions of questions and am direct when I need assistance, which has really helped me succeed.
What are you responsible for as a management trainee?
Management trainees are the first point of contact in the branch, so it’s very important that we are friendly and knowledgeable so we can enhance the customer experience. I personally confirm most appointments and complete callbacks to stay in contact with customers throughout their rental period to ensure that the process is going smoothly. Another one of my responsibilities is working with the body shops. I enjoy that because when the delivery process is smooth, it makes me more memorable, which makes the body shop and the customer more likely to work with us again or recommend us.
Tell us about your experience so far at Enterprise Holdings, and what your long-term career goals are at the company.
I’ve been in the Bordentown branch for almost six months, and I can’t believe how much I’ve grown in such little time. In addition to learning sales techniques, I’ve gained an understanding about the back-end work. For example, I recently began reviewing our performance to make sure I understand how each person contributes to those numbers and discussing with my team what we can do to reach our branch goals. Having the ability to think out loud at work and receive immediate tips and feedback has helped me become more proactive when making decisions and solving problems.
My long-term goal at Enterprise is to get into upper management to help recruit and develop talent. I have so much fun working with our new employees and interns.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since joining the program and how have you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me is not letting a tough customer get to me. I’ve learned not to take things personally. As long as I can continue to do what I need to do to help the customer, that’s all that matters.
What advice do you have for other recent graduates looking for jobs right now?
Your starting point does not necessarily have to be your ending point. Be a sponge: Learn all that you can from the people and resources around you and use the experience and information to springboard you into the next step in your career. No matter how minor a piece of information seems at a point in time, you never know when it’s going to be useful. You really do have full control to make what you want out of yourself if you’re willing to do the work.
Also, there’s no such thing as a dumb question. You limit yourself by being scared to ask about things you don’t know. Asking questions has never steered me wrong.
This article originally appeared on The Muse.