Coming into the 10th and final week of my internship at Exel, I thought that I’d give a list of advice that I learned while interning this summer.
Always have a pen and a notebook with you. I don’t know how many times I might be walking from a meeting or sitting at my desk and all of sudden encountered a colleague that had a project for me and gave me the instructions on the spot. Not only does it give the message that you’re prepared, but it’ll keep you from spamming your coworkers emails. There were tons of pens and small notebooks in the supply closet at my office and I definitely used them.
If you have a question, ASK IT! One of my managers told me at the beginning of my internship that anyone that has spent less than 5 months in their position who says that they know what they’re doing is lying. Everyone knows that you’re an intern and that you definitely don’t have all the answers, so they’re always willing to answer them.
Get LinkedIn with your managers and colleagues! You never know if they can connect you with a recruiter, give you a recommendation or give you advice on something.
Bring something to lighten up your cubicle. I’m not one to go around and decorate everything, but I did go out and got an Ohio State flag to put up on my dorm wall and that was it. If you’re going to be spending 8+ hours in your cubicle 5 days a week, it helps on those slow days if your cubicle doesn’t have plain vanilla walls that look like they were imported from the local insane asylum. (Rags from basketball/football games, bumperstickers [as long as you can remove them without damage, sticky tac or pins come in handy here], flags, and anything moderately small and non-offensive or controversial work well)
The past two days, Exel has put together a program for all of their interns, including interns not working in the Exel Americas headquarters in Westerville. I got to meet interns from the operation side that work in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
Overall, I think that it was a very well run and insightful program. They brought in the VP of Talent Management (HR) to give us a more in depth view of HR. The biggest thing I took away is how big of a role that HR can play in helping you to move within the company, whether it be a vertical or lateral move. At Exel, they encourage managers to “export” talent. One of the problems companies often face is that managers will get employees that do very good work and they are reluctant to “lose” that talent.
The big event of the past two days though was a presentation that each intern gave to a grab bag group of managers covering the projects that they completed this summer. We spent Monday working on our presenting skills and Tuesday actually presenting. There were quite a few Finance managers, a few Integrated Logistics Design managers, but only one Accounting manager.
Also, there was a networking event, paid for by Exel of course, at a Clippers baseball game that was attended by managers of the company. It was a very relaxed setting. We were on the terrace where they ordered food and we were free to mingle with managers as we pleased.
Overall, I got to meet a lot of people, especially other interns. While there are quite a few at the campus that I work at, we very rarely see each other.
I’ll start off with a theme that I saw on my site tour a few weeks ago. In the warehouse, the company had put up large posters that said “flexibility.” It said that flexibility is leaving your desk and coming back to find that it’s gone. This definitely held true for me this week! I switched over from Accounts Receivable to Accounts Payable this week. I finally got used to my daily tasks at accounts receivable and now I’m being thrown out to figure out a completely new system. I had been doing tasks for accounts payable here and there but was more just fixing their excel based databases. Accounts payable has a system that they use to track travel of all employees so I’m currently learning how that works and what all the rules about their travel are.
I’m definitely glad that I’m getting to do different things though. It’s fast paced for sure with a huge learning curve, but I’m glad to be changing things up.
I also had to make a huge adjustment in my living arrangements. Since the power went out, I stayed with a friend who lives off 8th, but I couldn’t park there so I had to bike at 6:30am back to my place a half block down from West Oakland Ave and try and lug my things back and forth so that I can brush my teeth, eat, etc. I also went home (which for me is Solon, Ohio in the greater Cleveland area) for a day the night of July 3rd. I’m going back to pick up the last thing that I forgot (I think) from my friends house in the morning, which is a week later.
It’s been a crazy week, both at work and at home(s). But I found that taking it all in stride is what got me through it. Just relaxing and not try to get worked up about having to learn so many new things or having to completely change my daily routine and living arrangements. That poster was the best advice that I’ve gotten this week.
This past weekend I competed in a scrimmage through GCRA (Greater Columbus Rowing Association) along with one of my teammates from Ohio State. The majority of the members of GCRA are people that are out of college with full time jobs, some further along in their career than others.
Anyway, during some downtime at the scrimmage, I got to know some of the other people at the scrimmage. I knew that at some point that I would end up conversing with these people, maybe share some rowing stories, talk about the weather, nothing really important. But I was pleasantly surprised when one of my conversations lead to finding out more about the business world! I ended up learning more about the consulting business and outsourcing from one person, as well as, his profession as a project manager. While it wasn’t my specific field of interest, it was still great info to learn and will probably help me in the future. My teammate, who’s an engineering physics major, ended up meeting someone working for a prominent cellular company who majored in electrical engineering and now helps them manage and setup their network across the country. I never thought that I would get any professional benefit from joining GCRA, but I have been proven wrong.
If you ever get the chance to do something similar, where you get the opportunity to interact with professionals in a casual environment on a regular basis, I would definitely recommend taking that opportunity!
And if you were wondering, we had a very good race, a dead heat for first after coming from behind in the first half of the race. We ended up getting edged out and taking second, but for our inexperience in this type of rowing we did well. We were rowing in a double where you have two oars, not just one, so we were glad to have such a close race. My boat is in lane 1 (so the boat with big 1 on the bow), and if you look at the distance to the next set of buoys, we are in the lead at that point in the race.
Something that struck me as odd was how heavily emoticons are used at work! We have an instant messenger program that everyone gets that you can use to message anyone within DP DHL (like AIM). I wasn’t really sure how much I would use it, as I had never instant messaged someone professionally (teachers, professors, etc). It’s pretty common place though, even when I communicate with my managers, all of whom are only one cubicle row away. One of my managers let me call into a meeting he had with the team from an ongoing project from his old position (I’ll speak more about that in a later post) and he used it to explain things to me without disturbing the conference call. And yes, people use emoticons all the time! I personally don’t use them when I chat with friends online or through text, but my managers and coworkers use them quite often. The accounting department here happens to be predominantly women so I think that has something to do with it. But I remember being told over and over again never to use them with people from work/school (teachers of course, not students).
I think that this partly speaks to the more casual atmosphere of Exel’s office. It’s still business casual and people aren’t doing crazy things like riding bikes around. But at the same time, everyone isn’t just out to beat one another and leave their coworker in the dust. Someone that I met had just gotten a manager position at Exel and came from another company that I won’t name, that she said was very cut throat; people were looking to beat you at everything and she said it just wasn’t a good working environment.
This doesn’t mean that I’ll be sending interview thank you letters with smiley faces any time soon. But I might start working them in here and there at work since they’re used so frequently by everyone else. 🙂