“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. For more information on the GET Immersion Experience please visit: http://get-immersion.syr.edu/
1. Don’t accept the norm before questioning it
With the Immersion Experience, you will be tasked with an approximately 5-month project seeking to improve and provide an innovative technology solution to the company. One of GET’s associated professors encouraged our teams to consistently ask ‘why’: why do we use this ticketing system? Why do people struggle to communicate via email? Why do people not pay attention during phone conferences? You may look at these questions and think “I know the answer!” but sometimes these are merely symptoms of a larger problem. Just because it is status quo, doesn’t mean it is right.
2. Network with your superiors and peers
It always surprised me when a senior manager took time out of their busy schedule to chat with me for a half hour. Their experience and expertise was invaluable to my time at the company. Do not be afraid to contact an executive if you have met them through a networking event or have mutual projects with them – I never once was told ‘no, I am too busy’ or ‘you’re just an intern’. They want to build strong leaders in the organization – give them an opportunity to!
3. Always double check before sending a document or email
I will never forget sending my first large correspondence at work – it was to 10 VPs regarding application design changes. Being the fresh intern I was I forgot to 1) include a subject line and 2) hide the red lettered edits in the attached document. Rookie mistake – never made it again.
4. Take a break, the operation won’t shut down because of your absence
One of my superiors always reminded me that “our institution wasn’t built by one person nor is it run by one person today. If you can’t make it in, the operations aren’t going to stop.” I made the mistake of going into work with a fever thinking my boss was going to be mad if I didn’t show up. The company will still operate even if you aren’t there that day.
5. Even if you aren’t 100% confident in your abilities, be 100% confident in yourself
As a finance major going into the Immersion Experience, I had very little technical knowledge compared to the computer science, engineers, and management information systems majors. However, I was able to absorb a great deal of information and come out confident in my experience. Keep your head held high, but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
6. Show up to work before your manager
Exceed your boss’s expectations. If you put in a constant effort to be on time and working diligently, he or she will notice.
7. When you receive an assignment, finish it as soon as possible
Procrastination is not acceptable in corporate. Learn to multi-task, because I guarantee you will be balancing multiple projects. Also, do not wait until the last minute to send an agenda or meeting material if at all possible. The audience should have time to review the material and be prepared to ask questions. In addition, make sure you are prepared to answer them. And if you don’t know the answer…”Thank you for pointing that out, I will have to get back to you at a later time with more information.”
8. If you are having trouble meeting deliverables on time, speak up!
The last thing you want to do is approach your manager on the day-of and tell them you won’t be able to meet the deadline. Keep a timeline and follow accordingly. If you need an extension, speak up and have appropriate, supporting reasons to back up your request.
9. Get to know your work team
Not only will these individuals be sitting in the cube next to you or on your work phone speed dial, they can also provide advice and expertise. The gentleman in the cube next to me had over 20 years experience at the company. Each morning he would endow me with wisdom – sometimes comical, sometimes serious, but always valuable.
10. Get a planner or desk calendar
Your schedule can be overwhelming at first, but you will learn how to manage it. Most companies utilize Microsoft Outlook® which has a great calendar feature and should be often referenced for meetings. However, I found it useful to physically write down due dates or important events so that I could see them in front of me every day. It is a good practice outside of work too, in order to keep on top of deadlines.
Kelsey Wolcott is a student at the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware.