Well, it’s been a busy summer. Since making my way back home to Calgary in mid-May, I’ve been interning as an Investment Banking Summer Analyst at a boutique investment company called AltaCorp Capital, Inc. Despite the job’s focus being slightly different than that of my region of study, this opportunity has taught me a great deal about finance, and, given the fact that the company’s clientele consists primarily of oil and gas exploration, production and service companies, it has actually provided many insights into the petroleum industry. In addition, this job has instilled in me a new interest for finance, which I will likely be pursuing as a minor at USC going forward.
In spite of all the information and skills that I’ve gained through my summer internship thus far, however, there are three lessons that have particularly resonated with me that I’d like to share with you guys:
- It’s better to overdress than it is to underdress
On my first day of work, it dawned on me about fifteen minutes before I had to take off for downtown that I had no idea what I was expected to wear. With the advise of both my parents, I opted to wear a full suit and tie knowing that, in all likelihood, I would be overdressed. As it turns out, however, that was exactly what I was expected to wear, and what I would continue to wear for the rest of the summer.
Beyond dresscode, however, I think this message translates well to many other aspects of working, especially as an intern; that is, it’s better to overdo than it to underdo. People seem to very much take notice when you come in early or stay late, ask questions for clarification and seem eager to take on extra work and responsibilities. Also, as one employee recently explained to me, it’s important to go around the office and ask people what exactly they do and how they got to the position they’re in today. Typically as an intern, you will add very little value to a company, so it’s important that you make the most out of your opportunity, which includes learning the roles of different employees and understanding their paths to the role.
- Say yes
In the wise words of Jim Carrey, “the era of ‘yes’ has begun.” When it comes to work, I’ve found that it goes a long way to be a yes man. “Hey Tim, could you do me a huge favor?” You bet! “Would you mind staying in late tonight to help clean up?” Of course! “Can you drive home, take my dog for a walk and tuck my kids into bed tonight?” I sure can! For the most part, I would advise being quick to accept any challenge or task posed to show initiative. If the task ends up being too difficult, you can always seek help later, but people seem to be very receptive to those who accept challenges with open arms.
By the same token, I’ve found that it has also been beneficial to say yes to any and all extra going-ons of the office. Whether it be an employee get-together after work or a company breakfast, the more time I have spent with my co-workers, the more comfortable I find myself in the office and the better able I am to perform my job.
- Take advantage of weekends
One of the hardest – but most important – lessons that I learned very early on in my internship was that functioning on little sleep at work is shockingly difficult – much more unpleasant, I may add, than doing so at school. Certainly, when you’re working during the summer, your friends will have much different work and school schedules than you, and as such, it is often difficult to resist the temptation of making plans and staying out late in accordance with their schedules. As much as it might sound manageable to go out and live with working on little sleep the next day (as is so often done at school), it should be noted that it is much more painful to sit through, let alone work, a nine-hour work day without breaks. Additionally, in my experience of being in an office in which the length of our work days fluctuates depending on the amount of work we must complete, it’s hard to make plans after work in the first place, seeing as we must often cancel them if an unanticipated project comes up before the day’s end.
As such, I’ve found it increasingly important as the summer’s progressed to take advantage of weekends. Whether it be making plans to go out with friends or heading out of town, scheduling your weekend well in advance in order to fit everything you want in can make it easier to make the most out of your summer. Even if you’re away from home for the summer, weekends can be used to either go out and meet people, or to explore the new area around your work. During the four weekends of the past month, for example, I spent two on lakes with friends in both Invermere and Kelowna, British Columbia, went hiking with my father in Banff National Park, and attended the world’s biggest rodeo, the Calgary Stampede, in my hometown (pictures below).
Thanks for tuning in guys, you’ll hear from me soon. Fight on!