Email theblondeprep@gmail.com with questions, comments, or concerns. Powered by Blogger.

My Internship Recap + Reflection


I can't believe my internship is already over and done with! My last day was on Friday! They said the 10 weeks would fly by, but I really can't believe how much they did! Although some days felt long, the weeks went by so fast, the weekends even faster, and the entire thing is already behind me! I want to reflect on my experience and share how it went with all of you. Warning, this gets long!

Because I accepted this internship in October, it was a long time coming and I was really looking forward to it for the entire year. I had no idea what to expect going into it, and it turned out to be completely different (not in a bad way!) from what I expected. I'm splitting up my reflections into three categories: the culture, the work, and the industry.

First: a quick background! You can read my post about the application process/securing the internship and announcing it here if you're interested. Also: I am an Information Systems major in the Business School at UW-Madison. I will be a senior, just like the other 200 something interns! The internship was a majority of merchandising analyst, design, product development, etc. interns, and only 15 interns in technology.

THE CULTURE

So... 15 tech interns. 11 boys, 4 girls. There were 3 total tech interns (including myself) with the Business Analyst position; the other 12 were Software Engineers. Because the tech department is in a separate building from the corporate/more creative roles, the 15 of us all became pretty close by the end!

The biggest thing I noticed that sets Kohl's apart is definitely the people. The friends I made were seriously so nice. My best friend Elizabeth also did this internship (but she was over in the corporate building) and I was telling her on Friday that I don't think I've ever been in a place where people just made me feel so good about myself! My friends were so nice and I hands down had the best team!! Maybe I'm biased, but my team could not have been more welcoming and kind to me, or more fun to work with and just be around in our cubes. We were always chatting and working together and they always answered my questions and made sure I was learning. Ugh! I miss them already haha.

THE WORK

I'll be the first to admit I don't have the best grasp on what Information Systems means or what I was getting myself into. The major leads to endless different career paths, so I assumed I would just see which one this was and how I liked it! My role as a BA was on the Product Management path, which I knew nothing about heading into it. I was seriously surprised by how much communication my role involved, and also surprised by how few "techy" things I did.

I'm weird and love Excel, SQL, and analytics, so I was totally expecting that. Being a business analyst, I was all like Oh, analyst, analytics, yay!
But no... Analyst = analyzing (duh. that was my fault for being clueless). My job (more or less) was essentially analyzing two different systems my team owned and working to make them better. I loved the strategy aspect of this, but I wanted a little more technological impact. I felt like I was just a translator between the business and the engineers, and I realized that having a role where there is more of a combination of the analytical/techy stuff with the communication part would be more fitting for me.

One of the nicest things about working at Kohl's was that since the company is so big, there is a team for everything. In tech, each intern was on a completely different team with different plans and projects. By the end of the internship I ended up finding another team that works on projects that seem like they would be a better fit for me. It was so interesting to discover just how many different moving parts go into the functionality of a huge company.

One very exciting part of the internship was a Shark Tank summer-long project we worked on! My team and I had to come up with a way to "fuel digital growth" and came up with an exciting pitch to present in front of executives and a big audience. ...and WE WON!!! I seriously could not have expected it less and was so shocked. It was really exciting! It was pretty unrelated to our work (meaning it didn't align with any of the projects I was individually working on with my team) but an interesting and challenging project nonetheless.

THE INDUSTRY

The biggest realization I had this summer was that retail is not the end-all-be-all for me. I went into the internship thinking it could go either way in terms of liking the work or liking the culture, but I never thought twice about the retail industry. I went into college knowing I wanted to work in retail and it was just something that I never doubted. But now, I think I could do the kind of work I want to do for anyone or any kind of company.

I'm not saying that I didn't like it, because I definitely did! I find the retail industry absolutely fascinating, and at a company like Kohl's where the technology is so innovative right now, there are so many cool things happening. However, I realized that I would be willing to test out other industries and see what else is out there, because technology is truly what interests me, and I would love to see how different industries innovate and modernize.

OVERALL

It was great... not necessarily all the time, but in general. I am so lucky to have had the experience that I did. Like I said, the work itself wasn't 100% the right fit, but the culture was wonderful. The people just made me happy! It definitely took me a while to adjust to the hours and the routine, but my team made such an effort every day to make it an enjoyable experience, and it definitely was. It was a great feeling to be on a team where I felt comfortable enough to ask a million questions and they truly cared about helping me learn and giving me the best experience they could.

But... it was also really overwhelming. There was constantly the talk of "do you think you're getting an offer?" between the interns, and so many "would you come back?" questions. It was stressful! Heading into senior year of college, of course that's top of mind, but being such an indecisive person, I felt like it was almost too top of mind during the job. I wish I would've focused less on what might happen in the next year, and more on just doing the best job that I could everyday. I think I spent too much time worrying about whether or not I would accept an offer, to the point where I wasn't taking in the whole experience!

I am grateful for the experience and everything that came along with it. It was a ton of fun and a great environment to work in. I will miss my team but I know they're going to continue to do great work! Internships are about figuring out what you want to do, but also what you don't want to do. I loved certain aspects of the work I did, but I am also open to seeing what else is out there! So... we'll see.

xoxo

4 comments

  1. This is so awesome! Thank you for sharing yours high in addition to your lows. I think with social media/college culture people get very caught up in the idea of "having" an internship and not what all comes with it. Good luck going into your senior year!

    xo,
    Bailey
    baileysbulletin.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!! Definitely important to acknowledge all sides of the experience! xo

      Delete
  2. Great post Fran! So interesting to hear other interns experiences, even when it's completely different to your own experience. Glad to hear that although this internship wasn't what you expected, it helped steer you in the direction you want to go after school.

    xx Kate
    http://simplybykate.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kate! It was a valuable experience for sure! xo

      Delete

Please leave a comment! I love hearing what you have to say!