College is arguably the most transformative time in a person’s life. After completing three years at Northeastern University, I realize I am nothing like the person I was as a freshman. I’ve been shaped by the newfound independence, social experiences and academic opportunities that college presents. And, my educational experience has been a bit untraditional.
I’m lucky enough to have participated in Northeastern’s co-op program, a unique opportunity in which students take a six months hiatus from classes to work full time as an intern. After making it through a hectic fall application period full of resume submissions and interviews, come January, I found myself as the newest member of the V2 team.
My six months at V2 have been some of the most rewarding time of my life.
Here are the top 7 things I’ve learned as a V2 intern:
There really is no such thing as a dumb question.
Although at first it was extremely nerve-wracking to approach a supervisor to admit I was confused about an assignment; at V2, questions were not only answered warmly, they were encouraged. There was a common understanding that it’s better to ask for clarification than to risk turning in wrong or incomplete work. As I began to get more comfortable turning to my managers for help, I started to realize that in a workplace setting, confusion is not something I should be embarrassed about. Instead, it’s actually admirable to be proactive and ask as many questions as needed to get the job done efficiently.
Two words: Take initiative.
Once I was immersed in the PR world, I started to identify aspects of it that I was dying to dip into. During weekly meetings with my manager, I began to request new challenges and opportunities that I saw other employees engaging in when I sat in on internal meetings and client calls. Like any job, there were certain tasks I was given during my time at V2 that were required as a part of my role. Outside of these responsibilities, I was able to take on extra projects and assignments that interested me. These include summarizing flagged pieces of coverage for clients, taking and receiving feedback on a PR writing test, drafting a reporter pitch and even writing this blog post! V2 has taught me the value in taking initiative in order to enhance and leverage an experience to the fullest.
All work has value.
As an intern, sometimes it’s easy to feel like the work you do is unimportant. However, I can honestly say that for every spreadsheet and research document I worked on, I was able to see how it contributed to the big picture of the company. On multiple occasions, I put together research on a potential new client, later to find out that they selected V2 to represent them. I felt genuine pride when a reporter I researched for a media list decided to write a feature story on one of our clients. Trust me, there is no better feeling than seeing your work pay off. V2 emphasized the value in all of my work, and I was able to see my contributions benefit my co-workers as well.
Going from a student schedule to a full-time job requires a lot of adjustments. A major one that I definitely wasn’t expecting was the transition to desk job life. As someone who was used to walking EVERYWHERE in between classes, sitting down for hours at a time proved to be difficult. Luckily, the V2 leadership team felt the same way, and employees were encouraged to get their steps in every day. I took serious advantage of V2’s walking treadmill desks—I even came in second place in the office-wide treadmill competition! (I walked over 24 hours in less than a month.) Also, with a BEVI sparkling water machine on the other side of the office, I found myself getting up from my desk often, and staying hydrated too! The importance of staying active while working a full-time desk job is something I never would have thought about before starting my internship, but now it’s something I know to prioritize at any future position I have.
Take advantage of location.
When you’re working full time, it’s so easy to forget you’re living in a city. Boston, especially now in the warmer months, is one of the most walkable, cultural and innovative cities in the U.S. The V2 office, located in the South End, is surrounded by trendy cafes, lush parks and mesmerizing galleries. Not to mention, the area serves as a giant playground to some of the most adorable dogs I’ve ever seen. Sometimes, being cooped up in an office all day can feel repetitive. During my time at V2, I was encouraged to take walks daily and explore, whether it was to get a cup of coffee from The South End Buttery, or sit in the local dog park with my fellow co-op during lunch. I know that after my co-op experience comes to an end, I’ll definitely make my way back to the South End hot spots that I’ve gotten to know and love.
Admittedly, I’ve never been somebody who reads the news. Of course, I would keep up with major events and large political breakthroughs, but I would never be caught reading the newspaper or sitting in front of CNN…until I started at V2. Not only is the discussion of current events a huge part of the office culture, it’s actually a part of the job. Yes, you read that right – I got paid to read the news. And I was expected to read the news. It was a common occurrence to walk into the kitchen in the morning and see a group of my colleagues with their coffee, each reading a different section of The Globe. As part of my position, I would scan different publications every morning for client-related coverage. This task soon turned into a routine and I would catch myself reading articles for pleasure in addition to work-related topics. I realized how much more knowledgeable I became about all different areas ranging from politics to healthcare to stock trading and M&A. I could participate in more discussions with my friends, colleagues and family without feeling lost. Soon, I found myself engrossed in a multitude of podcasts about national issues, wellness, true crime and so much more. What started as an office task turned into a ritual, and in turn, I’ve learned so much more than any class could have taught me.
Office culture is EVERYTHING
If you had asked me a year ago where I wanted to work when I grew up, I can guarantee you that my answer would be under a brand umbrella with companies like, “Vogue” or “Nike” or “Bank of America.” I thought that brand was everything, and that if I could land a role at a major company like these, then that would automatically mean it was my dream job. Well a few weeks into my role here, I realized just how wrong I was. It’s the office culture; the people, perks and energy are what make a work experience fulfilling and worthwhile. The warmth of my supervisor, the pop culture references at staff meetings, the kitchen conversations with my co-workers and of course the free lunches were what made me excited to come to work every single day. I know that the office community will be a top priority for me as I begin to look for my next co-op, and eventually, my future career.
Throughout my time at V2, I’ve come to realize the true value of experiential learning. During my half-year at V2, I’ve gained skills in areas that no class, paper, or homework assignment could possibly give me. The lessons I’ve learned are invaluable, and I look forward to seeing the places they take me in terms of education, personal growth and my future career.