How I Spent My Weekends in North Carolina

Before I came to Raleigh, I imagined it very similar to Columbus and was surprised to find that it was contrarily pretty small. Although Raleigh has roughly half the population of Columbus, there are still plenty of activities to do in the area. It was also nice having a roommate in the new city, because I already had a friend to do things with on the weekends! Below are some of the activities I did this summer:

Farmer’s Market: I went to the Durham Farmer’s Market every Saturday I was in town. I enjoy browsing around and getting fresh eggs. At this farmers market they also had craftsmen and a potter whom I purchased from weekly. They also had a lot of different food trucks and coffee to choose from.

Dame’s Chicken & Waffles

Downtown: Going to downtown Raleigh and Durham was always something fun to do, whether it was going into the shops, or grabbing something to eat. There were always new areas and street art to find.

Downtown Raleigh

Wrightsville Beach: Living in North Carolina has its perks, and being close to the beach is one of them. One weekend my roommate and I drove a little over two hours to the beach. We got a hotel for one night and went to the beach both Saturday and Sunday. We also ate a nice seafood dinner. It was relaxing to have a weekend away from home.

Wrightsville Beach

College Campus: I took some time exploring the college campuses around me. Duke University is a mile from my home, so I visited there frequently. The other colleges I explored are North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Some of the other interns in my group go to UNC Chapel Hill, so I went to hang out with them on a few weekend nights and observed how their campus culture differed from OSU.

Duke University
Duke Gardens

Hiking: Forests are abundant in North Carolina. It is one of the main things I noticed when I got here and I enjoy driving through the scenery. I wanted to hike one weekend and searched for the best trails on the internet because this area can also be very flat. I thankfully found a long trail that had a mixture of terrains and steep hills. It was nice to be submerged in nature. There are also a lot of good hiking spots that are within a couple hours away that I would have driven to if I had more time.

Eno State Park

Kayaking: My roommates, a few other people, and I went kayaking in a lake one weekend day. It was surprisingly cheap, only costing five dollars a day for a kayak. After kayaking in a lake I can definitely say that I like kayaking in a river more, but it was nice to get outside and get a little workout at the same time.

Festivals: There is always some type of festival going on during the summer months. I went to the Fourth of July festival in downtown Raleigh and to a Food Truck Festival. There are also a lot of free concerts in the parks that you can go to and listen to local bands.

Traveling: I also took a trip back to Columbus one weekend because I had a few weekend activities to do with my family. The flight was really easy, though I ended up getting delayed three hours due to storms in Ohio. I also went to New York the weekend before my internship ended for a close friend’s wedding. Because her wedding was on a Friday evening, I was not sure if I would be able to work, but luckily my boss said I could work from my laptop on Friday. At Cisco, your laptop is your computer and you take it home with you every day, making this trip doable. Saturday I went to the city with my other friends at the wedding and we explored and ate a bunch of good food. Then, Sunday I visited a friend and also Fisher alum, Sophia Mullins, before flying back to North Carolina to finish out my last week in the internship.

A Relatively Normal Internship Day

Thankfully most of my days at Cisco have variation. With the multiple projects I work on, to the different events that happen, I am almost always busy. I will walk you through a relatively normal day of my internship.

6:30 am   I try to wake up early, though lately the snooze button has gotten the best of me. I get ready for the day and make breakfast which has consisted of eggs, bacon, toast and orange juice. It is great eating breakfast like this in the morning, because it is not something I would never take the time to do at home.

7:30 am  I leave to drive to work around this time if my roommate and I are ready. It takes about 20-25 minutes to drive from our home in Durham to Cisco.

8:00am   I arrive at work early because my roommate that I drive, who does not have a car, wants to get to work at 8. My team usually does not get in until 8:30-9am, though the past week or so they have been in earlier because it was our year-end close on July 29th.  When I get into the office, I usually go over my emails first to see if there is anything important or anything someone has asked me to do. About half of the days there is something in my inbox that is of relevance to me. After checking my emails, I check my calendar to see what I have to do that day, and then I grab coffee from the break room.

9:00 am  More people trickle into the office and I am working on my project for my Sales and Services Finance team. I have done a few different excel projects that lasted over a few weeks, along with a project on compliance. I usually ask my manager if there is anything she needs from me, and, if not, I continue to work on my projects.

11:00 am We also have an intern team project that we complete for the company that is not finance-specific, like our job. There are 4 of us in a group and we meet to work on our project outside of our meetings without our project manager and mentor. We try to get as much done as we can and set up the schedule for how our meeting will go later.

12:00pm Most interns and rotational program employees go to lunch. We have to walk for five minutes to get to the closest cafeteria which is two buildings over. Every once in awhile we go out to a restaurant for lunch.

1:00 pm  When I get back from lunch, I either work on my projects or have a meeting with my intern project team. We meet for an hour, two days a week, so that our manager and mentor can make sure we are still on track and help us where we need guidance.

2:00 pm  As an intern, people want to meet and talk to you. A lot of the interns set up meetings with other interns’ managers and people in the rotational program. I set up meetings with managers whose positions are interesting to me, people in the rotational program I have not had the time to get to know yet, and people in the San Jose office because I am interested in moving to that office. I am not someone who can set up meetings with everyone just for the sake of networking. To network well, it is important to get something out of your meeting. If it gets to the point where you have so many meetings that you are not learning something or able to keep people separate in your mind, you may be meeting too many people in too short of a time.

3:00 pm  At this point, I will go back to my desk and write down what my meeting was about and what I learned. Then, I will finish my projects for the day.

4:00 pm I will wrap up my work and ask my boss if there is anything else I can help with. I usually end up catching up with some people on my team that have been busy working all day.

4:30 pm I go to Cisco’s gym which is really nice and cheap for employees. There are a lot of work out classes that I enjoy going to like Tabata, Cardio Kickboxing and Barre. It is a great way to end the work day and get moving after being stagnant most of the day.

6:00 pm Finally home for the day!

My intern project team after our training presentation

Cisco’s Intern Events

One of the perks of being an intern includes company provided events. Cisco has not disappointed me with their fun incentives. On our last day of training, we were rewarded with two hours of laser tag at Hard Knocks and concluded with dinner. Interns and those in the finance rotational program were invited as a way to form friendships outside the office and take a load off the office pressures. I did not get home that night until almost ten, but it was worth it because I got to know the people I worked with while doing something fun.

A week after, all finance employees were able to attend a Durham Bull’s baseball game. The game was at one in the afternoon on a Wednesday, so we all left after lunch to head to the game. After about an hour of watching the baseball, we moved to seek shade, because the sun was bearing down on us in ninety degree heat. I ended up talking to the first year employees and managers in the finance rotational program. After another hour we all went home; I was quite relieved to get home early compared to when I work in the office.

Last week we had two events back to back. One afternoon we had a bowling event after lunch that included finance interns, employees in the finance rotational program, and our managers. This event included arcade games, bowling, food and raffles. Sadly I did not win any prizes, but I did get to network with managers of the rotational program that I could potentially work for full time. This event allowed me to be on a team with a VP of Finance, who is the finance leader at the RTP location. I emailed him a few days after the event, saying it was nice to meet him and that I would like to hear more about his position in Treasury. We have a meeting this week to talk more!

The next morning we had a volunteer event at a day care and spent time with special needs and typical peer children. After playing with the kids for a few hours, the interns and some of the people in the finance rotational program went to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Then we headed back to work. That afternoon I attended another event in a large conference room with games, snacks and drinks, which included all of the finance department employees. I ended up winning a gift card for having the fastest time in one of the games.

Throughout the internship there are a lot of Speaker Series, along with Lunch and Learns. Some weeks there are as many as three events showcasing important speakers. Being in a technology company, many of these meetings are over WebEx, Cisco’s telepresence platform that is similar to Skype. These talks are usually with Vice Presidents, but sometimes they can be with people higher up. Last week, finance interns in my location had a meeting over WebEx with the CFO, Kelly Kramer. This week Chuck Robbins, the CEO, will speak to all interns and answer questions. These sessions are a great way to learn more about the company leaders and form connections with executives.

Cisco is open to suggestions, as well. I pitched an event to my program manager, and will soon be putting on an event of my own in three weeks!

What TO Wear

Let me preface this blog post right away, this definitely isn’t what to wear to an interview and probably not even what to wear to your internship. DSW has a very casual environment, which I love. So here are a few of my favorite outfits I’ve worn to work!

Also, I’m not a fashion blogger or a model, this is just to show how DSW’s culture is reflected by what people wear to work!

  1. Yes, people at DSW wear jeans and not just on Friday! However, there is a difference between the jeans you’ve had for 4 years with fading and giant holes in them and jeans for the workplace. When in doubt, go for very dark denim!Slide2
  2. Dresses or skirt lengths should be longer than your fingertips. I pack and ship boxes a few times a day to various magazines and you don’t want any incidents when bending down to pick something up!IMG_8576
  3. When it’s extra hot outside, it’s extra cold inside. I keep a cardigan in my desk drawer for those over air-conditioned days! Pick something in a neutral color that can go with whatever outfit you have that day. Mine is grey!
  4. Some places have a strict closed toed shoe rule; luckily DSW is not one of them.Slide1
  5. DSW loves their athleisure shoes and so do I! A lot of places of work would probably frown upon you wearing your Converse, Keds or Vans to work but tons of people here do. It’s wonderful (especially since I have a standing desk), no stilettos for me please!

Remember that it is always best to overdress. It might be worth asking what employees typically wear before you start your internship, even a distinction from “business professional” to “business casual” can lead you in the right direction. Dress up for the first day and then take it from there! Each company has it’s own unique culture!

Fun Fact:

Each printer at DSW is named after a different shoe. I normally print to “Platform Pumps!”

Tip of the day:

Don’t sign an email “xoxo.” Apparently this has to be taught? I have indeed received this from a person who has been in the business world a lot longer than myself (don’t worry, they didn’t work at DSW). Seriously, I just met you through email and you sign your name with hugs and kisses?

Embarrassing moment:

I normally don’t listen to music at my desk but I had been working on a project in Excel for over an hour and needed to wake up. So, I plug my headphones in and click to Pandora (“90s, 2000s, Today’s Hits Radio” of course). The song goes on for about 10 seconds until I realize that I plugged my earphones into my computer and not my phone (see what Excel does to me?) and everyone heard me jamming to “Dirty Little Secret” by the All-American Rejects.

The power of being fearless- Cold Emails

The purpose of this post is to show you how to get anyone in your company to respond to your email. I have had success using the techniques below while interning at PepsiCo.

Disclaimer: The techniques mentioned in this blog post were derived from The Competitive Edge podcast Episode 30.

Before the Email

It is possible to reach ANYONE in your company by phone for a short conversation. If you are not afraid of rejection, you can get in touch with anyone through cold emailing.

How to Find an Email

If your company uses Microsoft Office, you have access to all employees’ email in your company. Steps to get an email are shown in the pictures below

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Articulating the Email

Below is an email I sent to a Senior Vice President at PepsiCo (the equivalent of the CFO for supply chain) asking for career advice.

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The Breakdown

Subject Line

Grab their attention. Make a subject line that will draw attention and sum up why you are emailing them.

My example: Following in Your Footsteps

Introduction

Cut straight to the point; do not waste words on meaningless background facts (hometown, school major, interests etc.). The short introduction is vital; you will capture the person’s attention in the first sentence. Throw something in at the end of the sentence that will make them want to read more.

My Example: I aspire to be as impactful as you have been in PepsiCo and the world.

Gaging interest

The second sentence is the most important part of the email. You must connect on an emotional level here. In my email, I brought up an achievement of his which he is extremely proud of while relating it to myself. Referencing something specific shows you have researched the person and are serious about getting time on his/her calendar. When bringing up a topic that connects you and your targeted executive, keep in mind it can be anything that you relate to. Some examples are an article the person wrote, an interview that he/she gave, a position they held, specific accomplishments or even a personal hobby you both share.

My example: Your influence on Gatorade, my favorite drink, to move it to a Kosher beverage is truly amazing especially because half my family keeps Kosher.

Specific Time – 10,3

Put time on their calendar and be specific. It’s harder for someone to say no if you found an open timeslot on their calendar, exemplify that you have a plan and are not going to waste a second with them. A personal rule of mine is to request ten minutes of their time to ask three questions. Ten minutes is short enough where they can be willing to speak to you but long enough where you can get some good information.

My example: I have put time on your calendar to speak with you on Thursday at 10:00 but will only need ten minutes of your time to ask you three questions.

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Throwing in a blog2 towards the end of your email lightens up the subject matter. Do not use this for every person you email though. You must understand what industry this person is in and if it will be taken in a positive or negative way. If you can find out that the person is easy going definitely throw it in there.

My example: I’m looking forward to your response blog2

Proofread!

Notice how I had a grammar error because I did not proofread. Always double check your work to avoid a costly mistake.

Persistence

Anticipate that the executive will initially deny your request to have a phone call. BE PERSISTENT. I sent my email request three days in a row until the executive accepted my meeting with him.

 

Best of luck and happy interning!