Day 5 of working on the 15th floor

Blog post by ELP Student Katie Casselton (Industrial & Operations Engineering | Class of 2019)

 

 

A lot can change in 7 days. In the past seven days, I moved out of Ann Arbor to a new apartment in Chicago, and then immediately started my internship at PwC. This summer, I will be doing consulting for the emerging technology sector of the financial services industry.

 

First Day Jitters

 

Starting an internship has all the same first-day of school jitters that I’ve had for the past 15 years of my life—but a million times worse. The same first day of school stresses happened; I wanted to make new friends and enjoy what I was learning. An added pressure also happened on this different first day, because I was also striving for professional success immediately.

 

In school, academic success don’t have to happen on the first day. Usually projects and exams aren’t until a couple weeks into the semester. During work, there is a pressure to make a positive impressive the first week, because the stakes are so much higher, and my time here is much shorter than a school year. I’ve started to realize that I’m not imaging the pressure—it is 100% present so far. Luckily, PwC assigns each intern a mentor, a coach and a senior partner to help us during our journey. Having so many people in my corner who all want me to succeed definitely is starting to relieve some of the initial pressure of the internship.

 

First day swag bag

 

An Internship: The Ultimate Audition

 

I grew up doing competition dance, so I can’t help noticing the similarities between an internship and an audition. In both situations, there is a limited period of time where you get to impress the judges from the company. Any fall could cost me my spot, my role in the company.

 

With that in mind, stressful is definitely a word I would use to describe my first week at PwC. However, with all the stress and overwhelming nature of working at a new company, there also was the fun of meeting the other interns. Being around them helped to make training and orientation more enjoyable, especially knowing we all didn’t know anything yet.

 

Training to be a Working Professional

 

Week 1 comprised of a very typical set of onboarding activities—trainings, introduction to the firm, and icebreakers with the other interns. I commuted to work every day; walking through downtown Chicago during the morning rush definitely made me feel like I was “adulting” (or pretending to at least).

 

Due to the fact that most consultants travel Monday-Thursday to the client site, PwC doesn’t assign desks to specific people. Instead, they use a desk reservation system, so each day, you reserve a desk to sit at for the day. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would like this, as I got lost several times trying to find the desk I reserved. I soon realized the beauty of bouncing from desk to desk—each day, I was sitting by someone knew, so I was able to meet a lot of different people during my first week.

 

PwC Celebration at Millennium Park

 

Collaborative or Competitive?

 

The nature of an internship the summer before senior year is that it is ultimately a competition— a competition against the other interns to snag a full-time offer at the end of summer. During onboarding, the concept of the full-time offers being the prize at the end was made very clear. I was initially worried this would result in a competitive environment with the other interns, because, after all, we were directly against each other. I hoped this wasn’t the case, as one of my personal goals for the summer was to make new friends.

 

I was glad to find that all my fellow interns were friendly and purely happy to be living in Chicago, working at a cool job. After getting to know some of them, I came to a realization—none of them were like me. It wasn’t that we didn’t have things in common; I met many fellow Midwesterners, industrial engineers, travel fanatics. It was that none of them were exactly like me. PwC brought together a diverse group of interns to perform tasks under the same title of Technology Consultants, but our skill sets and backgrounds differentiated us. We all had a unique combination of traits and qualities that we all brought to our projects—which is exactly why we were all assigned different projects and roles.  

 

After having this epiphany about my so called “competition”, I realized this summer is exactly like an audition, but not in the way I expected. Yes, I was going to try my best and hope I impressed the “judges”. In the end, however, it is all about me being the right fit for the company. Moving forward, I’m ignoring the pressure and enjoying the experience. After all, experience is what internships are all about, and I’m definitely going to enjoy the remainder of my days working on the 15th floor.