Things I Learned During My Internship


Hey there.

...

Wow.

When was the last time I made a blog post? August? No wait, that was when I moved to Montreal.

Apparently, my last post was on October 15.

It seems so long ago that I wrote on my blog. I think it's my mind intertwining related things together. In my previous update, I was heavily known, and said myself, that I used to upload on Instagram at least 24h after I did something cool so that the event is still fresh (at least, in my mind).

Anyway, I want to mention this - I finished my internship as of today, December 20.

Yeah, I know right?!? These 4 months have gone by, just like that. And what these 4 months have been - moving all the way to Montreal on my own has singlehandedly been the best decision I've made in my life. I will explain the reasons and my decision(s) as to why I chose to move to Montreal and the East Coast to do my first-ever internship in another post I will publish in a few days, so stay tuned for that.

I will be giving voice about my experience at SAP and some of the things I learned during my internship. Not only do I want to touch on the topic of workforce development once again through informative and (sort of) creative writing, I wanted to share some not-so-common tips you can't find in a typical blog post otherwise, in addition to advocating, especially as the spearhead of someone with adequate career advice to my friends and peers who might be reading this right now.

If you're someone I know reading this - again, hey there!

Whether you're seeking your first co-op/internship next semester or you're on your third/fourth/fifth/billionth work term and you want to try out a new industry, hopefully in tech, these are Things I Learned During My Internship. 


1) Prepare in advance for meetings.

I would say this would be the work equivalent to doing your homework or studying for exams. When I had my first couple of meetings, I just brushed them off like no big deal. But by the first month into my internship, I realized they give ample opportunities for you to either improve and succeed. Although your title is an "Intern", you are, of course, an employee of the company you work for. And one of the purpose of internships are for you to learn! 

By the end of my internship, I attended countless meetings that taught me to:
a) Practice my presentation skills. For me personally, I would say a bad habit of mine is that I tend to ramble on and on and on. I'm an ENFJ, I love to chat and socialize!
b) Prepare a list of things I need to discuss. Or else I talk in circles and the words I say don't sound cohesive.

For both A and B, it's really important for when you're in a meeting - one that could be as short as 15 mins, or as long as an hour, to be direct in what/why/how you're going to say in that allocated timeframe. Because another weakness of mine I have, is failing to know the answers to the questions I was being asked, even when I thought of myself as a self-proclaimed expert. Thanks, imposter syndrome, and thanks, goldfish memory and my constant blabbering for making me having to write A and B down. This ultimately leads me to:

c) When it comes to receiving feedback from others for a project I've been working on, also prepare in advance for questions or comments you might get asked towards the end. By identifying my weaknesses, I want to be confident in the sense that I can answer a question on the spot, rather than being clueless and stumped, which was not a good look. 

For meetings where you don't have much of a role, make sure to:

d) Participate in discussions. One of my personal values I live by is to always stay curious and keep learning. If something genuinely piques your interest(s), don't be afraid to speak up and ask, or share your thoughts! If you want the answer to something that you're unsure about or you feel like might benefit you, ASK! You don't get participation marks in meetings, like you did in lecture tutorials, but you do get some worth if you at least pitch in.


2) Talk to people, even if they're not in your department.

In your co-op/internship, it is most likely your work space will be with individuals in the same department as you. My desk situation was unique in which I was placed in a floor full of salespeople. And my work environment was unique as SAP Montreal actually has two offices - one at Robert-Bourassa (the office I worked at), and one at de Maisonneuve. For some reason, 4/5ths of the interns worked at dM, so most of my social interaction was through Slack.

Working, and being isolated from your fellow peers can be dispiriting, I'll admit. I stay connected with them by joining our Intern Committee as one of the Co-Chairs of Q4 2019. And after I joined the committee, the two other co-chairs thought the same as I did when they both joined. We made a few goals when we banded together in order to throw fun events; one of them in particular, was to "facilitate an equitable and inclusive environment amongst the interns, where everyone can be themselves." Another, in alignment with SAP's Core Values, was to "Stay curious - be humble and never stop learning."

In October, me, along with the two other Co-Chairs, planned and hosted an event called "What I Do @ SAP". The purpose of the event, speaking of the aforementioned core values, was to "stay curious" by getting to know what some of us do in a typical day. There's approximately 50 interns working at the two SAP Montreal offices combined every quarter, so not everyone works the same IT job. We had developers, programmers, basically those who have some sort of computer science background coming in to talk about their favourite languages and demonstrating some project prototypes. We had business analysts, advisors & consultants, and supply chain & operations support specialists making connections with our global partners and clients. We had MarComm (marketing & communications) people too, as well as visual and UX/UI designers. After the event, and after my internship, I definitely learned a thing or two of back-end development, or KPIs, thanks to making these connections.

My presentation at our "What I Do @ SAP" LunchTalk, held in the middle of Q4 2019.

3) If you were involved in extracurriculars at school, continue to be involved in your internship.

For those of you who have been following me and my portfolio & blog since my very first semester at SFU, you probably know that I was deeply involved with school clubs and extracurriculars. SFU SMA, Her Campus at SFU, SFU CAC, and CMNSU. There's probably 30 million other clubs I was a part of, but I listed those 4 because of the contributions I made and how much I valued each one of them, leading to my career path.

Once I entered the corporate world, I thought that would be the end. Clock in, do your work, chat with co-workers, eat lunch, do some more work, and clock out. Thank goodness it isn't like that nowadays. I gained a brief understanding of SAP's work culture through a guidebook PDF I was sent to me before my interview; in the pages, they put a lot of emphasis on their employees celebrating milestones and volunteering & giving back to charitable initiatives. This became ingrained in my mind to the point where I carried this goal with me up to my first, onboarding week. (Yeah I know, I was that keen for my internship already... 😬). The hunt to getting involved at SAP turned out well thanks to the weekly newsletter I receive in my inbox every Wednesday afternoons. To add on, the newsletter was where I found out about the Intern Committee that I mentioned earlier in number 2.

As one of the three Co-Chairs under the Montreal Intern Committee, we operated in a similar fashion like any other college or university club. Meeting every week, taking notes, discussing ideas and planning events. But now that you're working in your career, comes a level of professionalism that needs to be maintained as you're representing the best interests of your members co-workers. You're also working with an assigned budget for the fiscal year, but again, speaking professionally, you want to expense your budget wisely. All of this talk isn't to say our events were boring, or had to be boring. With these rules and guidelines set in place, we held a number of career development & networking events, such as the "What I Do @ SAP" LunchTalk, 5 à 7 socials, and celebration and farewell parties.

Other than the Intern Committee that I keep talking about, other clubs at SAP include the Speech Club, Social Committee, Business Woman's Network (BWN), d-kom, and more. Although not really a club, yoga classes are held every Wednesdays after lunch, so the time commitment for that is almost the same as one.

A few of the interns and I getting Pho during our lunch break :)
4) I got the chance to practice specific types of communication at SAP that I didn't learn at SFU.

As a Consumer Industries Communications Intern, I honestly didn't know what I would be expecting throughout my 4 months. I just knew I would be handling some form of "communication", based on my job title. Of course though, I did read the job posting when I applied. The thing is, SFU's Communication Studies program teaches theoretical communication, unlike practical communication found in most communication studies programs in Canada and the US. The good thing is that SAP really put my skills to the test - all the things I learned at school, now into work.

Except I would say at the end of this internship that not only did I get the chance to practice specific types of communication at SAP, I got the chance for improvement too. The entire time, I was dealing with corporate communications. My very first assignment was writing a blog for the Co-President of SAP Industries and how she attended an adaptive fashion event at NYFW September 2019. I looked at past articles I wrote back when I was at HC@SFU for inspiration, and orchestrated a style from there for this post. Once I sent my final draft to my manager for approval, she went over it, but gave me feedback on a set narrative she wanted the post to be written in - that was the first time I learned how to strategize internal & external communications aimed to our stakeholders, which was pretty neat.

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Our Co-President (middle in black) attending an adaptive fashion event during NYFW September 2019.

5) Learning new skills and/or technologies that will give your resume a boost.

I like this last point, cause the point of an internship is to stand out amidst the competition, right? It is no doubt that the jobs you'll find on Indeed or any other job posting site requires their candidates to possess certain skills, or that they have a minimum of 1+ years of relevant experience. There is where working an internship/co-op during your undergrad can come in handy.

Other than being a communications expert in my role at SAP, I used some of their own technologies - after all, SAP is a company that makes specialized enterprise software. For a major project I worked on that lasted pretty much the whole duration here, I used SAP Jam; it is a social collaboration tool, almost like Facebook in the sense where you share photos and documents and join groups based on your needs and goals, but Jam is for all our internal employees. For our intern committee, when it came to event promotion, we used SAP Fiori. It is a user experience (UX) that is the umbrella holding various applications, such as work time-off/leave approvals, finances, and self-service apps. If you are familiar with taking surveys online, you might have taken a survey using Qualtrics, experience management software owned by SAP. For keeping track of expenses and compensation, we use SAP Concur. Then there is SuccessFactors - if you have ever applied for a job online where the company makes you go through the typical application process (entering in your personal information, uploading your resume & cover letter, completing a questionnaire), chances are that company uses SuccessFactors for human capital management. I didn't use this in any projects, but I learned SAP owns SuccessFactors, which was a fun fact to know about.

Perhaps my favourite SAP technology I used is called SAP Web Analytics. If you've used any kind of analytics software, be it Google or Hubspot Analytics for example, then SAP Web Analytics is exactly that. I've only ever used this kind of software casually, and I wanted to delve deeper into looking at charts and performances to analyze trends in order to conclude on best practices & recommendations for a project I was working on. A goal I have in mind now in the near future is to branch my knowledge on using and conducting analytics through a free, online certification course website like Hubspot.

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As you can tell from this extremely lengthy post, I learned so much in my internship. But let's talk about my reflection now with SAP.

I'm so happy I made the choice to work in the tech industry, as changing industries happened to be a last minute decision. I wanted to go into advertising for so many years, and now I'm glad I didn't. Choosing the company you're going to be working for in your co-op can either cement or steer away from the interests you're pursuing. And now, my love for communications and new media has skyrocketed!

I had an awesome manager who put 100% trust in all the ideas I wanted to execute in all the projects I got to work on. I needed to view feedback and constructive criticism that I received from a professional standpoint now - the projects I was working on were going to be delivered to clients and partners worldwide, many of whom from Fortune 500 companies. My written communication skills have greatly improved because of the fact that I had to write for an audience I had no understanding of prior, and so did my public speaking skills - I do recall having 1-2 meetings every single day throughout the month of October.

And of course, technology. I personally didn't harvest any technology myself, but I'm proud of myself that I was able to be a part of the "entrepreneurial spirit", "creativity", and "trustworthiness" that SAP is known for.

Like their motto says...

Because it’s the best-run businesses that make the world run better and improve people’s lives.

When you're sad you're going to be leaving SAP and Montreal 😢
Cheers,
   

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