Power in people: How I transformed my internship experience

“Badge? Check! Laptop? Check! W-4 tax form? Check!” These questions, among others, were running through my head as I walked into Concur’s Bellevue headquarters. I had already missed the first day of the internship program, and wanted to make sure that everything was in line so that I could jump right in as soon as I arrived. Before I knew it, I was introduced to my team, had been given my first day swag bag the SAP iXp team provided, and sat down with my manager to talk about what my summer was going to entail.

To give you some context: I worked as a Customer Experience Intern for 10 weeks. I had the opportunity to interact with clients, get my hands dirty with Microsoft Excel and Tableau, and work across different departments at the company. In all of my interactions, I sought to answer the question “how can I make a more effortless experience for our customers?” This would end up being very rewarding work. I quickly discovered that my interactions with coworkers were far more beneficial to me than mapping trends in excel.

Now, hear me out: As an intern, you’re getting paid to help whatever specific department you are assigned to. But, an opportunity like this is so much more than just hitting deadlines, creating graphs and making copies.

Here’s what it’s all about:

 

Looking beyond the work

On my very first day in the office, I started building out a robust network of relationships with the employees here at Concur. I remember sitting at my desk and thinking to myself: “I can come into work every day with my headphones in, make a beeline for my desk, and dig into the different projects that I’m working on. Or I can make the choice to lift my head up from my computer and engage with the people around me.”

I could simply “do my work,” or I could look for opportunities to hear the stories and experiences from the massive network that I have at my fingertips. I could finish this internship with only proficiencies in business related tools, or I could walk out of these doors knowing that I was able to make the most of this incredible opportunity.

These past 10 weeks at Concur gave me the chance to grasp an understanding of some pretty vital business tools, and more importantly, leave with a first-hand experience of the collaborative vision that Concur is all about.

Jordan and two fellow interns at the SAP iXp Summit

 

Connecting with colleagues

This idea of connecting with professionals seems intriguing on paper, but doesn’t really come to fruition if the individuals you’re seeking don’t respond, right? Thankfully, that was not the case for me.

Every single employee I reached out to either responded promptly or gave me names of other people if they weren’t able to meet with me personally. I’ll be honest – this shocked me. I was expecting this process to be a little more like pulling teeth and sending reminder emails and coming to terms with the reality that my role as an intern has little to no significance in their day-to-day job. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Another thing that surprised me was how employees seemed to remember so clearly what it was like to be in my shoes. What I often heard was something along the lines of, “I wish that I had been doing what you’re doing right now.” Or “I wish I had a mentor, friend or co-worker to show me the ropes early on in my career journey.” They were all so in touch with reality and didn’t let their fancy shmancy job title cloud their thinking. This allowed me to cherish my time with them even more, and stands as a reflection of the selfless and intentional employees that Concur hires. It makes me think of this quote from leadership guru and business legend, Jim Collins:

“They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

 

Learning from leaders

During the final week of my internship, I had the honor to sit down and speak with Concur President Mike Eberhard. Although it took me a few minutes to really grasp that I was actually having a one-on-one with the president, I made sure to capitalize on the situation and not let any time go to waste. From grasping the idea that the proactive search for feedback is the most fruitful way to grow, to learning the process he goes through when making a divisive decision, I walked away with some incredibly thoughtful and insightful words – from an equally down-to-earth and genuine man. What stuck out to me the most was this: The success that he has had is solely based on the team and the people that have been around him.

As I prepped to turn in my badge and laptop in the final days of my internship, I kept coming back to this: It’s the people I’ve encountered, not necessarily the various projects I worked on, that have made this internship experience so incredibly transformational. At the end of your internship, if all you can recall is how many data sources you sorted through or e-mails you sent, you’re not going to live up to your potential.    

You can find a compilation of quotes I gathered from my various meetings with colleagues at Concur here.

 

Visit our careers pages for more information about the iXp program and Concur internships. 

Follow our interns throughout the year on the iXp Twitter page and #MyiXpStory​.

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