July 27, 2015
Insight From The Next Generation: When Interning, Diversify
By Grant Gatewood, Buyer Development Intern
As the end of my first month at OpenX approaches, I have begun to reflect on all of the experiences, wisdom and insights that have impacted me throughout my professional career. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the lessons I’ve learned while interning, and the value of diversification. I’ll touch on a variety of my career development experiences, and then discuss what I mean by diversification!
Whether you are a student, graduate, or professional, I believe this post can help you to reflect on your own career experiences, and maybe even influence the direction of your professional career.
Good collaboration skills are essential to one’s success. Whether you are an intern or a full time professional, you must be able to work with a variety of people to get things done. Collaborating is the best way to breakdown complex tasks, learn, and build team chemistry. A tangible example of this comes from my involvement in the Prudential Millennial Case Competition held at my University’s Business School. If my team members and I were unable to bounce ideas off of one another, give feedback, and properly communicate, we would not have done well in the competition. I’ve learned that companies value when interns and young professionals understand and excel in the art of collaboration.
Culture is KEY
“Your own happiness and comfort correlate with your professional success”
As an aspiring entrepreneur (I want to run a start-up one day), I’ve always felt that a strong culture helps to promote organizational success. One of the most important concepts that I have reaffirmed throughout my professional career is the importance of a company’s culture. The culture is what helps a company express/maintain its core competencies, align employees, and influence the work environment. A cultural fit helps to promote your happiness on the job. When working, it is important to remember that your own happiness and comfort correlate with your professional success.
Why work 40 hours a week in an environment you’re not comfortable in? The answer to this question for many people revolves around salary. The simple model of, “I’d be happier at Job A, but Job B pays more,” influences people to force themselves into positions where there is no cultural fit. Of course, I also understand that everyone has different circumstances and financial situations that may require them to take “Job B.”
At OpenX, I’ve noticed that the culture is what keeps people dedicated, collaborative, happy, and hardworking. When employees really align with culture, it is easy for them to maximize their potential. The culture here is one that values diversity, learning, innovation, collaboration, work/life balance, employee happiness, and a “work hard play hard” attitude.
Absorb EVERYTHING Stay Humble
“You must learn to find value in even the smallest of assignments in order to stay humble, active, and focused.”
In any internship or career development experience, it is important that one absorbs as much knowledge as possible. A tactic I have used is to find positivity and benefit in every professional experience you have. Whether it is taking notes at a meeting, doing research, talking to someone for five minutes, or developing/presenting a deliverable, you must find value in every task that you complete.
During my Corporate Management Internship with KPMG, I had a plethora of assignments. While some assignments required me to take more of a leadership role within my team of interns, others required me to play a support role as I assisted my managers with some of their smaller projects and responsibilities. I quickly learned that absorbing the value and benefit of every task would make me a better professional in the future.
Using this technique helped me develop stronger talking points for interviews, maintain a positive and humble attitude, and better understand the holistic perspective of my position. Interns must understand that in the work world you are not always occupied with major projects 100% of the time. You must learn to find value in even the smallest of assignments in order to stay humble, active, and focused. Humility is a trait that goes a long way. As an intern or young professional, you want to be humble and learn. Don’t be known as the person trying to consistently outsmart or outshine the CEO!
I believe that this concept is mostly valuable for those still in college (especially freshman/sophomores). If you have no idea where you want to be after graduation (most don’t), this technique may help.
When I say that one should attempt to diversify their resume, I mean that they should try to get themselves involved in a variety of professional experiences (internships, case studies, career development workshops, conferences, etc.). This may seem obvious, but many students limit themselves in varied exposure.
For example, if you’re an Accounting major you could get an internship with a Big 4 Accounting firm one summer, then a tech company the next summer. This way, you can immerse yourself in different networks of people, company cultures, and gain a different perspective of your field. While in college, it is appropriate to try different opportunities so that you can really figure out where you want to be once you graduate. Step out of your comfort zone, have new experiences, and enjoy different opportunities!