I remember the day vividly. Had a phone interview with the internship director for GE Energy Connections at 10 AM, got an email later that day saying I got the internship and had 2 weeks to accept. While super excited to work for a gigantic conglomerate corporation, I also found out that I’d be working in Cary, North Carolina: a suburb of Raleigh where I knew zero people. Although this was daunting, I knew this summer was going to filled with learning new skills. As a business information systems major, I was put into the DTLP (Digital Technology Leadership Program) in which many of the other interns were computer science or computer engineering majors. This meant I was behind the curve with regards to coding and understanding databases. Luckily, I was able to be set up with great mentors during the internship that wouldn’t hesitate to help if asked.
The purpose of STEP is to allocate funding for students to pursue opportunities that wouldn’t have been economically feasible otherwise while developing personally all along the process. This internship has allowed me to grow substantially in multiple ways. First, I became a much more independent person. Moving to Raleigh, renting an apartment, and figuring out my living situation was something I had never experienced before. Not depending on my parents to buy groceries and cater to my needs was an eye opening experience on how life is going to be after college and beyond. Gaining these skills and experiences were great to my personal development for these reasons. With regards to my fellow interns, this was also a completely new experience. Working with people I’ve never met was a challenging task to figure out the best way to get our projects done.
My role during my internship was as a commercial IT data analyst. Although I had a wide range of tasks, I mostly spent time working with data visualization software tool QlikView. The purpose of my internship was to learn how to effectively display data that was being pulled from SAP, GE’s enterprise resource planning software. Specifically, I was building tables and charts that took the base costs of a business(travel and leisure, rent, taxes) and making sure the data being displayed matched the data in SAP. The importance of doing this data validation is making sure the data being shown to executive decision makers is truthful. Making decisions based of bad or incorrect data isn’t really decision making at all.
Although I was very busy working with data during my internship, the fellow interns and I were also tasked with planning office events to improve the mood and culture. The office I worked in had ~20 people that would work in the office everyday and ~50 that would work from home via remoting in. We planned various happy hour events and even an office Olympics to improve the work environment for all. While these events were a great success, it really taught me the importance of fellow coworkers. Being in an space where no one is friendly and most people decide to work from home isn’t conducive to much at all. Being in a work-space where people are excited to come to work everyday is a special setting which completely changes the general office outlook.
In addition to the outside of work engagement, the interns met multiple times with the executive in the office where he lead presentations on personal development. Through these lunch-and-learns we would participate in active discussions about our personal brand, finding our path, and creating goals for our internship and beyond. These conferences had a huge impact on me and it was great to hear from a very successful professional about their story and their advice looking back. It also led me to rethink how to approach my career and what I wanted to pursue while in college.
The importance of my internship was growing personally and professionally. Having the opportunity to move to a state, sign a lease, collaborate with executives, and learn the ins and outs of a multi-billion dollar business was a once in a lifetime opportunity that was available due to STEP. I would strongly suggest every student to pursue an internship to learn these important life skills and get out of their comfort zone as I did.