Lessons from the Cube

Candace Kasper

The sun has set on the Summer of the Cubicle.

Candace Kasper, Intern

The last piece of data has been entered into Excel for this intern (well, maybe). Unfortunately, my summer internship at Market Mentors has reached its last day, and I have to say that it’s been an unforgettable experience.  It certainly hasn’t felt like I’ve been here for three months. Even as I figured that out and typed it I thought “Has it really been three months?!” The summer flew by, and now I’m on to the most strenuous task of the summer: packing up for college. On second thought, I’ll take some more Excel spreadsheets instead.

In the blog post I wrote after the first week of my internship, I said I wanted as much experience and learning opportunities as possible. Well, I got it. Lots of them, to be exact. And it turns out I learned a few things along the way, who knew!

In typical departing intern fashion, here are some things my internship at Market Mentors has taught me.

Always. Ask. Questions. Don’t really get your assignment? Ask for further explanation. Hearing words and abbreviations that you can’t figure out? Ask for their meaning. Not sure what the deal is for lunch? Ask someone. One thing I always heard from my coworkers was, “We don’t know what you don’t know.”  It’s okay to ask questions, in fact, it would be weird if you didn’t. You’re not expected to know everything right away (this is a learning experience, remember), and if you just sit there nodding while thinking “….what..?” you’re just making things more difficult and stressful for yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Work hard: Sort of an obvious one, but don’t waste time. This is why you’re here. They didn’t have to give you this opportunity so make the most of your time and theirs. Be proactive and ask for work instead of waiting for it. The more things you do, the more things you’ll learn. Plus, it won’t go unnoticed. They’ll appreciate everything you’re doing while you’re there.

Learn to love Excel: Everyone has a different love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with Excel. As an intern, try and love it as much as humanly possible, because chances are you’re going to be spending a lot of time with it.

Coworkers, A window into your future: Coworkers are probably one of the most valuable resources you’ll have access to during your internship. Not only have they gone through this themselves, they actually know what the heck they’re doing every day.

There are three main areas in which coworkers are tremendously beneficial:

1.)  Observe them: See how they dress in the office, interact with clients/the boss/other employees, carry themselves, manage time and stress, etc. Are people rolling into work whenever they want, wearing pajamas, and being hungover? No? Then guess what: Neither should you.

2.) Talk to them: Yes, they may have a real-life job and a house and maybe a spouse and be older than you but…they are still humans. After my first week at Market Mentors, I was told “See? We’re like your friends, we’re just older, that’s all.” This is good to keep in mind. You’ll be seeing these people every day, so get to know them and have them get to know you. Your cubicle will seem less isolated.

3.) Benefit from their experience: They’ve already been through everything you’re experiencing, so ask them about it. See if there are any pointers they can give you about courses to take or skills to learn before you start applying for jobs.

“I’m doing this because…?” One of the most important things to understand about the projects you’re working on is their purpose. You’re not punching data into Excel for half of your day just because the universe wants to see you suffer. There’s a reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, and things will seem less useless once you see how they connect and contribute to the rest of the office.

Time Management is Key: Chances are you’re probably going to be working on more than one thing at a time. Make sure to keep organized and have a list of what you have to do that day. But remember that things don’t always go as planned, and there are going to be projects that pop up during the day that will need to be taken care of right away. You’ll never know what’s going to happen, so always be prepared. There has to be a balance between being organized and flexible.

Everything is a learning opportunity: Sit in on as many meetings as you can. Volunteer for different tasks. Go to events hosted by your company. You’ve never been in this specific environment before, so try and experience as much as possible. Plus, it’s good to see that you’re actively engaged in what’s going on in the workplace and that you’re eager to learn.

Bring a pen and paper everywhere: If there was an award I could give to the piece of advice I was told the most during my internship, it would be TAKE NOTES! If you’re being walked through a project or given a computer program tutorial, write down the details. You’ll worry people if you don’t and even if you understand what they’re saying at the time, by tomorrow you won’t remember half of what they said. Oops.

“What have you done for me lately?” One thing I learned about being in the business of ideas and creativity is that it’s all about the end result. You could come up with a really funny idea for a commercial, tagline, or campaign but does it work? How has the client’s business changed? When the time comes, results speak loudly.

HAVE FUN! Don’t spend your summer plotting ways to mysteriously burn down your cubicle. Yes you should be learning and working hard, but you should be happy doing it. Make the most of this opportunity and enjoy your summer!

Before I end this long post, I’d just like to say THANK YOU!! to everyone at Market Mentors who has made my time here unforgettable. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve gotten to do and learn during my internship. I can’t say thank you enough!

—The Intern

Candace Kasper, Market Mentors 2013 Summer Intern, is a student at Syracuse University and she was recently accepted into the prestigious Newhouse School of Public Communications. Thanks for sharing your summer with us, Candace, and congrats!

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