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!

Introduction to Cara Armstrong

Hello! My name is Cara Armstrong and I am excited to share my internship experience with you over the course of this summer. I recently finished my third year at Ohio State, majoring in Business Administration with a specialization in Finance and a minor in Leadership Studies. This summer I am interning at Cisco Systems in Research Triangle Park, which is located in North Carolina between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.  Along with two other interns, I am living in a house in Durham, near Duke University. Thankfully, my internship did not start until June 12, so I was able to relax for a few weeks of the summer. I am excited to dive into my internship, but first I will tell you a little about myself and how I secured my internship.

Beginning my freshman year at Ohio State, I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue within the finance field. I got involved in the Undergraduate Finance Association and went to their weekly meetings to learn more about different careers and companies within finance. These meetings helped me weed out jobs that I knew were not right for me, like investment banking and financial advising.  My sophomore year led me to a new job at Fisher College of Business in the Undergraduate Leadership and Engagement Office. I completed administrative work supporting different co-curricular programs, such as student organizations. Over the year, I networked with different companies, joined new organizations and decided that I was going to travel abroad to Europe for the summer. Deciding not to have an internship between my sophomore and junior year worried me because I did not wish to hinder my future chances at gaining an internship or job. In hindsight, traveling abroad did not hinder my career outlook, but rather broadened it. Interviewers and employers love that I had overseas experience and gained valuable skills that could seldom be taught through school or work. Over the course of the summer I traveled to New York City, went on the Sustainable Business Global Lab in Copenhagen and Rotterdam, spent time in Amsterdam with new friends, lived in Germany with extended family, traveled to the Alps, went to a Euro Cup soccer game in France, visited Rome and Barcelona, along with the Spanish islands of Ibiza and Formentera. The new experiences were invigorating and allowed me to become more independent and adaptable.

 

When I got home, I started my junior year and began my search for an internship for the following summer. During this time I became the Vice President of Operations for the Undergraduate Finance Association, switched my minor to Leadership Studies, and started in the Business Analytics Industry Cluster.  My responsibilities at work increased as I became Peer Impact Consultant, where I help students get involved in co-curricular activities to assist them in finding a career path and developing outside of the classroom. I applied to many different internships, but one company caught my interest. I had seen Cisco Systems on campus the previous year, and they came to the Finance Career fair where I was able to speak one on one with someone in the rotational program. Knowing the opportunities I would have at a giant technology company like Cisco, this company quickly became the place I wanted to work. I learned everything I could about the company and the rotational program. Going into the first interview I felt prepared and confident in my interest in the company. After the interview I emailed my interviewer, thanking him for his time. I also emailed the person I met the Finance Career Fair, telling her how my interview went. After about a week I received an email asking for a second round interview. I was ecstatic that my personality and passion for the company had paid off. Thankfully, I got an email a few days later congratulating me on getting the internship; I couldn’t have been happier! The next 8-9 months following were difficult because I desperately wanted this new phase of my life to begin. Rather than being nervous for my new internship, I welcomed my new work with open arms!

 

 

12 in 12

Below are my top 12 of the amazing opportunities that I have had through my 12-week internship with DSW. Take a look below to see some of the great projects I’ve worked on and people I’ve met!

  1. Fashion Week Columbus: FWC is a non-profit organization that supports local fashion designers and DSW is a huge sponsor! Throughout my internship I’ve been able to meet with their Executive Director and figure out how DSW could be a part of it, which includes providing all the shoes for the Kids Show and Final Runway show!
  2. Magazine features: As I’ve mentioned in my blog, I work with editors of magazines almost everyday including Cosmopolitan, InStyle, People StyleWatch, Redbook, Real Simple & more! They usually let me know the trends or styles they are looking for, and then I work with our Merchandising team to pick out what would work. Check out the below picture of a sample I sent to Oprah that made it in their August issue! thumbnail_IMG_7172 (2)
  1. Information Sessions: These sessions have helped me learn way more than I would have imagined. HR arranged about 10 information sessions where executives gave an overview of what goes on in their department. I mean, who would have thought that I would have completely loved the finance meeting I went to? If your internship has anything like this, make sure to go!
  2. Lunch with Interns: This is one of the things I am going to miss so much! About 10 of the interns and I meet in the cafeteria each day for lunch and it was a great way to get to know the other interns from around the country. It was also a safe zone for questions we might have thought were embarrassing, like where someone’s office was or how to use the fax machine.
  3. Skechers Events: If you happened to be at the DSW in Dublin on July 17th you would have seen 1 of the 23 Skechers Kids Parties that I helped with. The store in Dublin had a try-on event complete with a DJ, face painter, balloon artist and free prizes! This was really cool for me to attend and see over a month of planning come to life!thumbnail_skecher
  1. Pokémon Go: I know you’ve heard of the app that has taken over the world! This project was very unique because we didn’t have much time to plan at all when the app exploded with popularity. I was able to work with people in Communications, Signage and Media to pull off Pokémon Go in select DSW stores in just a few days. Customers received $10 off that day if they played Pokémon Go in the store! 
  2. Art Review: This was just one of the regular weekly meetings I always went to, but my favorite! Every week in Art Review different people in Marketing present their email, signage, gift card, website artwork and more. It was so cool to hear the feedback and see all of the behind the scenes work that goes into this business.
  3. Holiday Look Book: This was my big intern project and my favorite one too! I was able to gather products to show magazine editors what DSW would have in stock for their holiday issue. From the selection of products by the Trend team, to getting them shot by our Photo Studio, designing a layout myself and gathering over 100 contacts to send them to, this project was extremely rewarding. The whole project went through my hands from the beginning to end, and ended up turning out great! Keep a look out in your favorite magazines for DSW in Holiday Gift Guides!
  4. Bloggers: If you follow Barefoot Blonde or other bloggers, you’ve probably seen them wearing New Balance, Vans, Converse and many more DSW carried brands. I was able to see how these posts unfold from beginning to end, so fun!
  5. Buzzfeed: Ever wonder how Buzzfeed writes their articles? It’s from lots of drafts back and forth! Check out this one that tells you what your shoes reveal about your horoscope! I have to admit, mine was spot on…

    These were my results from the Buzzfeed quiz. What are yours?
    These were my results from the Buzzfeed quiz. What are yours?
  1. Events Planning Committee: Make sure to get involved! On the first day of my internship (still can’t believe that was 10 weeks ago), I volunteered to be on the Intern Events Committee. Throughout the summer a few of us have planned events like happy hours, Columbus Clippers games, cycling classes and a dinner. What better way to keep involved inside and outside of work!
    Some interns and I at Cycle614!
    Some interns and I at Cycle614!

    Interns take on the Columbus Clippers!
    Interns take on the Columbus Clippers!
  2. Amazing Mangers: Seriously, everyone who works here is fantastic. I report to two amazing women in PR (Hi Maria and Kris!) and have learned more than I ever thought I could in one summer. I’ve gotten my hands on some amazing projects, but more importantly received invaluable feedback each step of the way. I can’t thank them enough for the coolest summer I’ve had yet!
Maria and I at DSW's carnival that raised money for United Way!
Maria and I at DSW’s carnival that raised money for United Way!

*Fun Fact: All employees at DSW get 30% off! And that’s off clearance too! DSW’s employee benefits are amazing…I’m going to miss this!

**Tip of the day: Set up lunches with people that you would like to get to know better! In a quick hour lunch you might learn about a career path that you had never even thought about. I haven’t heard a “no” yet!

***Embarrassing moment: So you know how in #6 I worked on a Pokémon project? Yeah, I still can’t believe that just came out of my mouth. Well, in order to have it work in stores, I first had to test to see if it work which involved me going to the 3 stores in DSW and playing. More than one sales associate caught me taking selfies playing Pokémon Go. Oops! I have to admit though, it was really fun! IMG_8667

Desk Must Haves, Tips & More!

I’m 20 years old, have no kids, and yet my roommates all call me “Mom.” Seriously, sometimes I answer better to Mom than my own name. One of those reasons is that I’m always the one to have a random Band-Aid or tissue in my purse. So why should my desk at work be any different? Check out my list below of the top 12 things to keep at your desk. Most of these can be found in mini versions in the travel section of Target or Meijer! And don’t forget to decorate your desk a little too, you may only be there for a few months but you won’t feel as temporary with a desk that feels like your own!

  1. Sweater: When the AC is on full blast the marketing department turns into the tundra. Bring a neutral color cardigan/sweater/jacket to work and always keep it at your desk for those extra chilly days!
  2. Cough drops & tissues: To avoid death glares from your coworkers when you are sick or have allergies, always have cough drops, tissues & hands sanitizer with you. Slide5
  3. Ibuprofen: This isn’t middle school anymore and you can’t go to the nurse’s office for your headache. You also probably shouldn’t go home unless you are actually sick. Keep some medicine in your desk just in case.

    More than once other interns have asked our GroupMe for help. It always feels great to be able to help them out!
    More than once other interns have asked our GroupMe for help. It always feels great to be able to help them out!
  4. Lotion: Lots of lotion. I’m obsessed with lotion. That’s all.
  5. Gum/Listerine strips/mints/toothbrush: You should have at least one of the mentioned in easy reach so when you decide to get the garlic potatoes for lunch everyone at your 1:00 meeting isn’t backing away from the conference table.

    Here is the little travel kit that I keep in a drawer at my desk with all my necessities!
    Here is the little travel kit that I keep in a drawer at my desk with all my necessities!
  6. Lint roller: If you have a pet or lint just seems to like you, make sure you keep a lint roller handy to keep you from looking like a mess. You can buy mini ones in the travel section of Target!
  7. Band-Aids: My shoe obsession has its consequences and besides eating my paycheck, sometimes it means blisters. Keep a few Band-Aids in your desk for the heels you know are a bad idea but look so cute with your outfit. Beauty over pain, right?
  8. Water bottle/travel mug: Don’t kill the environment with your 3 Styrofoam cups a day. Also, these have lids so you won’t spill. Or is it just me who still can’t be trusted with a cup without a lid?
  9. Plant: I don’t have a window near me and also am not great at keeping things alive so I opted for a bamboo stalk! Just pick something green to brighten up your desk!

    Slide1
    Check out my bamboo stalk in the corner! I think its probably only grown about 1/2′ in the past 2 months. Am I doing something wrong?!
  10. Pictures: So you can remember that one of the reasons you are working is to afford fun things with all your friends and family.
  11. Deodorant: I won’t go into detail but a few weeks ago I unpacked 18 boxes of super heavy promotional items, so….
  12. Food: This last item shouldn’t need an explanation, but I’ll give it one anyway. I love food. Food passes time and is delicious. Food makes me happy. Good enough?

    Slide3
    Not going to lie, this is one of the most delicious cookies I’ve ever had.

 

Share in the comments section what other “must haves” are at your desk!

 

* Fact: No matter your position, there is no greater feeling than clearing a printer jam that no one else can figure out.

**Tip of the day: Introduce yourself! Even if you still don’t know the name of the person who sits at the desk next to you, it’s not too late! You never know when you will meet someone who is from your hometown, college or who is just plain awesome!

***Embarrassing (long) moment:

As I’ve said before, I mail out shoe samples to editors of magazines. The mail is normally picked up from our building at 3:30 and taken to our mailroom to be labeled and shipped out. However, I had a last minute shipment that needed to be overnighted and I missed the pick up. So I called the mailroom and they said I could still drop it off, I said I would be there in 5 minutes.

After standing in the empty mailroom for 10 minutes, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t actually in the mailroom. Sadly, most people had left work since it was pretty late on a Friday. I finally found someone who told me that the mailroom was in the Distribution Center (building next to mine).

This is the DC!
This is the DC!

So I walked into the DC aimlessly for a good 5 minutes until I found a security guard. He told me to go outside and click the buzzer to the mailroom doors. So naturally I walked around the corner of the building, looked for another 10 minutes for the buzzer and came back in to tell the security guard that no button existed. Long story short, the security guard then escorts me to the mailroom and there definitely is a buzzer. Apparently I’m just oblivious.

The man who works in the mailroom that I called, now 30 minutes ago, saw me coming and told me he figured I was lost! Whelp, at least I’ll never do that again