Bzzt! You're staring down at the offer letter you've received from your dream company. Usually, this is where the chapter ends or the curtains fall on a very happy ending. No one prepares you for what comes next and if you're anything like me (an international student), you're even further removed from any immediate sage advice from your loved ones. Worry not! As someone who steered her own ship amidst stormy seas, I'm here to offer some do’s and don'ts that might just save you.
- Calm and composed wins the race: It's easy in writing, but this is one of the hardest parts to conquer - your mind. Whether you've landed at a small, medium, or large company, the amount of information coming your way can be immense. I stayed up till 2 am on my first day, just trying to figure out the various ways and means (platforms) the company used for its operations. Honestly, it can be very overwhelming and if you feel that way…good! It means you care about the position. Now this advice is going to sound outrageous but, you need to come home, draw yourself a bath (bath bomb it!), watch your favorite show while having a slice of 'za! Why? Because you've earned it, so treat yourself. You can't change the company on your first day, but you can change how you approach the rest of your days by treating yourself right!
- The big 'Net' in Networking: If you've landed a company like SAP Canada Inc., networking would be super high on your list and I'm here to tell you, it shouldn't be. Don't get me wrong! Extending your 'net' and making connections holds great importance in corporate settings; however, if you focus on building that on your first day, it can become counterproductive. Networking comes with time and responsibilities. The key is to chase excellence; networking and success comes hand in hand.
- Listen more, talk less: I have an opinion, you have an opinion. We all have lots of opinions, of things that could improve the current system, maybe even transform it. Save them! The first week is all about listening and grasping, making the company your own. As you walk in the office, embodying the spirit and core values of the company, blend in and adapt to its ways. Hear people interacting (no, don't eavesdrop!) but keep your eyes and ears open at all times. This is a chance for you to perhaps catch a problem that even the titans of the industry couldn’t.
- Don't be scared: This one’s a bit of a cliché and something you must have heard before if you've already done Co-op terms, but it still stands true. Know that once you're in, you're in! You shouldn't be scared of asking questions to your supervisors, fellow interns, or team members. Your team has to be a safe space for you to open up, and if you don't feel it that way, then perhaps there's a bigger conversation to be had with either your team or Co-op advisors. Don't be scared to let your Co-op advisors know how you feel during your check-ins and book frequent 1:1s with your supervisor if you need extra help.
- Leverage and polish your problem solving skills: First of all, congratulations on your first month! You're finally getting the hang of things and steadily understanding your role. Now, the real work begins. Remember when I told you to leash your analytical mind? Well, its time to go loco! This is a good place to slowly start thinking and building on solutions for certain problems you noticed. Why do it in the first place? Because like it or not, the company didn't hire you to do the same job previous interns have been doing in the position. They want your flair in their projects, events, workshops, conferences and so on. There is no pressure if you can't do it, you've still achieved a milestone by being in this position, but why stop there?
- Don't give up just yet: If you're hired by a big company, there is a load of expectations weighing on your shoulders. That can be a lot of pressure for a mere teenager (I was 19 when I landed my role at SAP). It can get even worse when you've not settled in properly or if it's your first Co-op term (as was the case with me). I can't tell you not to feel that pressure, but perhaps try not to succumb to it. I felt like a failure in my Co-op term for a very long time until I gathered and fueled myself with as much confidence as I could. The secret is never to give up, and also 'fake it till you make it' but really, it's to never stop trying. The way is only forward!
Here's a list of do's and don'ts that I feel every Co-op student should be equipped with, however there is so much more to it. While I could have listed more pointers, somethings should be left for your own experience. Who am I? Well, I've made it clear that I was an intern at SAP Canada Inc. To be more formal with my designation, I'm Vanshita Sethi and I completed two Co-op terms at SAP Canada Inc. as a Global d-shop Communications Specialist. You can find me on Linkedin if you want to have a further discussion on my experience or just want a coffee chat!