Ask any college student: securing a summer internship is no simple task. Months of refining résumés, stressful interviews at different companies, and finally (or, hopefully) accepting an offer. And that’s all before the real work begins. Fortunately, the welcoming atmosphere that set apart my initial Signal interview extended throughout my internship here. As my time with the company comes to a close, here are three lessons that stand out.
1. Working in an office teaches things you’ll never learn in a classroom.
Signal developed its summer 2017 intern program based on feedback from previous interns and managers in order to guarantee a great experience for this year’s group. HR coordinators scheduled meetings throughout the internship with people in every department, and although I was assigned to the client services team, I met with people across the organization — from web developers to sales executives to graphic designers — all within my first week. These meetings were instrumental in improving my understanding of Signal’s technology, and also gave me a clear picture of how each department works. Not to mention that they were a great way to get a sense of Signal’s collaborative culture.
2. Asking questions is the only way to learn.
Learning the ins and outs of Signal’s business was not always an easy process. The challenge of adapting to a steep learning curve forced me to hone my research skills and think on my feet. While I sometimes struggled to recall the digital marketing vocabulary that was so new to me, my supervisor encouraged me to ask questions whenever I had them. Moreover, when I started working on my main intern project (researching clients and competitors), I felt comfortable reaching out to co-workers and using them as resources for information and advice. Having people on my team who were willing to sit down and help me learn ultimately made me feel like my work added real value.
3. Socializing outside of the office is important, too.
Throughout the summer, Signal offered opportunities to explore the world beyond the office environment. Highlights include a company-wide scavenger hunt around downtown Chicago, an intern challenge in an escape room and sitting in a private box during a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. (There was fun in the office, too, like a wine tasting event.) These activities were a great way to get to know colleagues in different departments; I ended up making a lot of friends at the office, and always looked forward to coming to work (particularly on Mondays, to discuss the latest episode of Game of Thrones).
While it was daunting to work in a business where I had so much to learn, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to intern at Signal. I developed new skills, grew my professional network and gained experience in a field that interests me. Looking back to my first day here, I can see just how much I learned over the summer — and looking ahead, I know that I will be able to use the knowledge and skills I’ve gained wherever my career leads next.