A note from the InfoSpace Editors: this post is from 2011. The Syracuse University iSchool no longer offers the Global Enterprise Technology (GET) program, but we still offer tons of immersion and work based learning experiences! Learn more about our experiential learning and immersion programs.

If you want to read more stories about the iSchool’s current experiential and work-based learning opportunities, read our posts under the Experiential Learning category.

Immersion Experience Student Perspectives is a series of blog posts by students who are currently participating or have recently participated in the Global Enterprise Technology (GET) Immersion Experience. These students provide unique insights into what it’s like to get hands on experience through full time employment in a technology-driven global work environment.

One reason many of us go to college is to learn the knowledge necessary to acquire a job and pursue a career after we graduate.  We aim to gain the skills that we will need to work in an industry.

What could be a better way to learn these skills than to experience what it is actually like to work for a global company?

This is what really sold me on the GET experience.  I was able to go to work for 40 hours a week, get real, hands on knowledge of applications, development, and corporate culture, as well as earn credit towards my major.   The best part was that they treated me like a full time employee, not an intern.

Gaining Real World Experience with GET

As an Application Developer for the Chief Investment Office technology team at JPMorgan Chase during the GET Immersion Experience, I learned many skills that I would not have had the opportunity to learn in my classes.  These can be broken down into technical knowledge, business knowledge, presentation skills, and communication skills.

My first day on the job, my manager sat me down with my resume and we went over it.  The next thing he does is explain to me that I will be developing applications and making code changes in three programming languages and several applications I had never worked with before.  Even though I was surprised at first, the assignments I was given allowed me to pick up the necessary knowledge quite fast.  Once I gained enough proficiency in one area, my team would have confidence in me and send me more assignments in that area because I was now the “expert” on it.  I was able to learn many more practical applications of programming knowledge than I would have learned in my classes and at a much faster pace, since I had many different deadlines to meet.

Not only did I gain valuable technical knowledge, but just working in a corporate environment gave me a great perspective on how the business runs.  I was exposed to employees of all levels, from new-hires and associates to corporate executives and everyone in between.  My specific role on my team in the Chief Investment Office required me to work directly with business users and make changes to and enhance many scripts containing financial data.  For someone with a more technical background like me, this was a great way to learn about finance, business operations, and how communications work between business users and technical developers.

The Importance of Preparation and Communication

What many of us learned as we were doing our GET project was how to present to corporate executives.  One can come up with the best idea ever, have a really practical solution to a problem within the company, and develop a really nice, coherent PowerPoint deck to accompany it. In a class presentation as long as everyone could speak clearly about the subject, this would usually earn a decent grade.  But when it comes to presenting to corporate executives, they might skim through it, ask you to start presenting, and never get off the first page because they just want to fire off question after question.  They know exactly what they are looking for in any innovative solution and don’t want to waste time with anything else.  This taught us to prepare a lot more ahead of time and account for many different questions and possible interpretations of the data and ideas we were trying to present.

Even in large group assignments for classes, I might communicate via e-mail, instant message, telephone, or face to face, and eventually we would all meet up in one place to practice and present our project.  While working for a global company, I had to communicate via all these forms and many more because I had to talk to people all across the globe.  My team had corresponding teams in England, India, China, and New York, aside from mine in Delaware, so coordinating projects with these different teams required some careful planning.  I had to account for time zones, working hours in other countries, as well as preferred forms of communication between all these different groups I may need to communicate with in order to complete my projects.

Overall, my experiences during GET have been unparalleled in anything else I have done in my college career.  I returned to taking regular classes at my university and I have noticed many things come up that I had already learned during my GET experience. Whether they are technical classes, or business classes, I am constantly reminded of the knowledge I gained during my work as a GET intern and I keep going “OH! I learned that during GET”.

Kurt Saunders is a student at the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware.