As Talent Acquisition Intern, I highlight SAP Internship Experience Project (SAP iXp) experiences, including activities, intern success stories and company culture through blog writing and social media. I’ve spoken to multiple interns about their career goals, projects they’ve been working on and their impressions so far.
One such intern I was able to sit down with was smiley and energetic product management intern Gabe Ho. It was the middle of week three of the iXp program, and while he was still learning the ins-and-outs of corporate life, Gabe shared his story and what he’s been up to so far at Concur. Here are five great insights I picked up from our conversation:
1. Be a donkey.
When meeting with interviewees, I always ask some silly questions to get to know the person better and make them feel comfortable so they know they can be themselves and not take the interview too seriously.
I asked Gabe: “If you could be any animal which one would you choose?” Two seconds later he responded with “donkey.” I laughed because that was an incredibly unique response and one that I would not assume many people would choose. Why a donkey?
“They’re hard workers,” says Gabe. He loves how donkeys carry the weight, do the heavy lifting to get the job done and never seem to complain. Donkeys are instrumental in moving people and objects in some cultures. This response made me not only intrigued to know more about Gabe, but I also gained a deeper respect for him. Even when faced with tedious, sometimes exhausting work, Gabe finds value in what he’s doing and stays positive. He knows that donkeys are perfect examples of hard workers and oftentimes, little appreciated. Take Gabe’s advice: Be a donkey.
“I’d be a donkey”- Product Management Intern, Gabe Ho
2. Bridge your passions.
Gabe recently graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Business and Informatics. “I got into liking both because I saw the merits and the synergy between the two,” he says. He also studied operations and supply chain management.
“I did a custom track emphasizing information architecture. Really seeing that bridge between technology and the business, that’s a gap that I feel like smaller companies are struggling with,” he adds. As a product management intern on the Financial Integrations team at Concur, Gabe says being able to speak to both sides of technology and business development is a good place to start his career.
Product management is the end goal for Gabe and believe it or not, the donkey mantra inspires him daily. Specifically, he says how double majoring and graduating in four years was at times extremely difficult. Yet he continued to remind himself to never give up and be more like a donkey. At SAP, we oftentimes hear the motto, “build bridges, not silos.” Gabe is living out that mantra, bridging his two studies and driving his product management career goal.
If you’re passionate about different things, don’t keep them in silos, try to find a bridge. You will end up happier coming into the office every day when your passions are bridged with your career.
3. Step out of your comfort zone.
Gabe was born and raised in Singapore. When asked where his favorite place in the world is, he quickly responded: “Home is where the heart is.” Gabe tries to make it back to Singapore once a year (mostly to relish in the beautiful weather), but has ultimately found a community in Seattle and doesn’t plan on leaving.
“I never quite fit into Singapore. I feel like I understand people and get the culture here so much better. I’ve found a home away from home here.” Although not easy at first, Gabe left his comfortable life back home, and jumped on the opportunity to attend school in Seattle. This opened his eyes to endless possibilities.
Stepping out of his comfort zone encouraged Gabe to apply for this internship. At first, Gabe was skeptical about the type of personal development he’d gain while working for a multinational technology company due to the large-scale work environment.
After taking the opportunity with SAP iXp, he’s been pleasantly surprised with the inclusivity and invigorating SAP culture. He’s been able to learn more about himself and set his sights on the future.
4. Grow your network.
This statement gets preached throughout every internship and job opportunity, and there’s a reason for that. This nugget of truth is invaluable. Gabe says he uses this advice to expand his visibility in the company.
He makes connections through the context of his project. Gabe bridges the gap between sales, UX teams and engineers, creating opportunities to meet leaders and colleagues. Gabe’s manager, Michelle Schmetzer helps Gabe feel at home on the Financial Integrations team, all the while introducing him to other departments and teams. He calls her a “rock star.”
When you network, you’re not only meeting new people and hearing their stories, but you’re also branding yourself. Even if you’re hesitant, send those emails to people you admire. Introduce yourself to that hiring manager you see in the hallway. Ask someone for help on a project simply to hear their creative thought. As Gabe reminds us: “Every day is an opportunity to branch out.” Go ahead, make that new connection.
5. Stay ambiguous.
In most cases, it’s important to come prepared. Sometimes, keeping things a bit ambiguous leads you to not have any preconceptions or be intimidated. For Gabe, ambiguity led him to a great surprise.
Gabe says his favorite iXp event thus far was the CSR event, cycling for charity with Soulcycle. He explained to me that he thought “soul cycle” would entail riding around downtown Bellevue and exploring the area. Gabe was sorely mistaken when we walked to the venue, a short distance from Concur’s Bellevue HQ, and discovered it was a spin workout class.
After sweating and heavy breathing for 45 minutes, Gabe understood and accepted what Soulcycle was. Although it was not at all what he had expected, he said he had a ton of fun.
I envy Gabe’s “go with the flow” attitude and serendipitous spirit. His reluctance to research the activity inspires the element of surprise. Now, Gabe laughs about the whole thing. You don’t always have to know the answers or the destination ahead. Maybe sometimes you’ll pleasantly surprise yourself!
Follow our interns throughout the year on the iXp Twitter page and #MyiXpStory.