Before I began work for the multi-billion dollar, 200 year old company that is DuPont, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was very eager to begin my intern experience in my hometown of Wilmington, DE, but the adjustment from college to corporate life is a transition that, although one most of us will have to complete, is not the easiest. I had a particularly unique intern experience as well, as Dow Chemical and DuPont are in the midst of a multi-billion dollar merger. A lot happened in my three-month intern experience that challenged me and allowed me to grow. There are three tips, however, that I would like to share that proved invaluable for me, which I will take with me on my future career path.
1. Meet and be social with the other interns. I had the unique opportunity to intern with fellow college students from the University of Virginia, Purdue, and the University of Kentucky, to name a few. Every intern brought a unique set of experiences and skills to work. As an intern, you’d be remiss if you did not use this platform to not only elevate your networking ability, but to just make the overall experience better, since you are surrounded with young people.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice. My supervisor and manager challenged me each and every day—both on a personal/developmental level and a technical level. My manager preached the invaluable tool of communication, especially in a business role. Thus, they had me give brief presentations to the Finance team before or after our weekly meetings. Now, being a 21-year-old college student standing in front of employees who have been at the company for 30+ years is surely intimidating, but the only way to get over that is to practice and to keep getting “live reps.” All of those short presentations prepared me for my final intern presentation, where I had to present about some of my summer work in front of around 40 people. While I am far from being an expert at public speaking, I grew in many facets this summer—especially communication.
3. Ask Questions! We have all been hearing this our entire academic lives— “Ask questions!” A lot of us think since we are in our respective majors at a stellar business school like Smeal, we know more than we actually do. Within the first week of work, I realized how intelligent and polished all of the full-time employees were—and that I still had a lot of work to do to be near their level. However, regardless of where you work, you will be surrounded by a wealth of resources and astute individuals—put them to use! Don’t simply generate the data—ask what is meant beyond the numbers, and how these numbers pertain to your business. Asking questions can never hurt, and as an intern, it’s all about growth and development.