The Power in Being Proactive
HAPPY SUMMER, CWIB!
Now that the school year has officially wrapped up, it’s time to start those summer internships, externships, study abroad programs, volunteer programs, and part-time jobs! Before you embark on your first day of whatever you’re up to this summer, I have some advice for all of you CWIB members: be proactive!
This was the most valuable lesson I learned in my summer internship last year. This habit will serve you well not just during the summer, but during the school year and eventually, your full-time jobs also.
During the first week, I was only given small assignments, but nothing of substance. The 8-hour days felt so long. I eventually realized that I had 12 weeks to learn and make a name for myself at this company. I knew that if I wanted to feel fulfilled at the end of this program, I had to do something.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! It takes just one conversation to build a connection.
First, I emailed this entry-level employee whom I had met at orientation asking if she wanted to grab coffee together. She was a friendly, bubbly person who had also interned with this company, so I thought she would be a great person to get advice from. We hit it off right away and she quickly became my “work BFF!” Throughout the summer, she invited me to meetings that she was involved in. If I didn’t take the initiative to reach out to her, I wouldn’t have been able to see this company from different perspectives or meet any of those amazing people, including her!
Attend social events! They’re a great way to get to know your co-workers!
Another example is more work-related. Like I said before, I wasn’t doing anything at the beginning of my internship. I worked up the courage to talk to my manager and express my desire to do more. She listened to me and shortly after, I was invited to more meetings and assigned to more projects. I was even invited to go to business process alignment meetings with our vendor in Maryland! All of these were opportunities that I know I would not have been given had I not spoken up.
Go introduce yourself and talk about your interests! This simple gesture will go a long way.
I hope these two examples showcase the value that being proactive can have. All of you CWIB members are capable, intelligent, and talented young women. If something isn’t going the way you envisioned, say something! Doing so will show your peers/managers what your interests are and what you can bring to the table. Do not think that all of your hopes and dreams are going to be delivered to you on a silver platter. Work hard, be proactive, and you will come back to Blacksburg in the fall feeling fulfilled, I promise!