I spent the summer in my home state of Colorado interning for a Fortune 500 company, Newmont Mining Corporation. Despite the fact that I had almost no knowledge of the mining industry (oh, I learned a lot this summer), I had a great time experiencing the workings of a large corporation and learning from my tight-knit department. Throughout my time there I accumulated knowledge that has molded my perception of the career journey and what it can potentially look like. Here are the top 7 snapshots of wisdom that I gained this summer:
7 Things I learned interning for a Fortune 500 Company:
1. You don’t have to be perfect to show up
Honestly, this has been my motto all summer. I gained this insight after chatting over coffee & tea with one of my mentors. It is important to recognize that you are going to have flaws when you enter a new environment. You are not going to be 100% ready for any role. And that’s okay. The company hired you knowing that you were not 100% ready but that you could meet the challenge. Do not place unrealistic standards on yourself that keep you from taking opportunities or being a major player simply because you believe you don’t have the full capacity of skills or knowledge. Go in understanding that no matter what your strengths and weaknesses are initially, you are well-equipped to problem-solve through multiple tasks and rise to the occasion.
2. Find a mentor early on
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Having experienced individuals who are willing to be on your team, back you up, and let you learn from their mistakes is a powerful phenomena that should not be taken lightly. I would say that one of the most enjoyable parts of working for a large corporation was connecting with individuals who saw my potential and wanted to invest their time and energy into my growth. I learned more about what it truly takes to be a leader in modern times and how to effectively leverage certain points in my career to help me get to where I want to be. And this knowledge was free. Mentorship can make a world of difference along your career journey.
3. Learn as much as you can… about listening
One of the most difficult skills to gain is good and effective listening. You can hear what someone is saying but you actually may not fully consider their words because you are so focused on your own agenda and goals. Unfortunately, many get stuck on the idea that only their words, goals, objectives and needs matter more in any given moment, which is why they opt to not listen to the needs and perspectives of others. This thinking has the potential to be a fatal flaw. During my time assisting with team-based projects, I witnessed the value of listening in action when it was time to get the ball rolling.The stronger a listener you are, the more likely you are to understand the full scope of problems and find more suitable solutions.
4. Fail hard
Failing is uncomfortable. Not getting something right the first time is annoying. But often times failures can teach us more than successes can. So that being said, fail hard. You won’t like it and in many cases you may get in a bit of trouble. But those failures will shape you more in the long run than some of your greatest successes.
5. Don’t be shy
I made it one of my missions this summer to try and understand multiple sides of the business by networking with individuals from different fields and hearing about what they do. The amount of knowledge you can gain by stepping outside your comfort zone to learn about someone else is staggering. It also makes for great networking with incredible individuals. Do not hesitate to stay connected with the people you meet at any company because opportunities for future mentorship and career assistance can become available.
6. It’s time to start learning efficiency
In our 20’s, we may not understand the value of efficiency or at least what it really looks like. But now is the perfect time to start to leverage some balance in the way we use our time. Now, I understand that it may not be as easy in some roles compared to others (investment bankers, my thoughts are with you). But regardless of your job, you will need to practice some form of healthy living or your lifestyle will not be sustainable. Learn how to maximize your time by being efficient in some areas so you have time to dedicate to other tasks. Don’t wait until life forces you to be more time savvy.
7. Go above and beyond and you’ll reap more than you’ll ever expect
Celebrate your youth but also give the time and energy necessary to make a positive and noticeable impact. Be inquisitive and think outside the box. Establish the work ethic needed to achieve your goals now because it may be too late down the line. Never get tired of applying yourself and learning new things so that you can offer solutions that go beyond simply fixing an issue. You’re smart, talented and willing. Take on a challenge outside of your comfort zone and you’ll be surprised at what you can do.
Work hard. Go above what is expected of you. Ask questions. Be present. Think outside the box. Ask more questions. Listen. And learn.
You are always stronger than you give yourself credit for.