A question commonly posed by college students and industry professionals alike is “what should I be reading.” Answers may vary from the Wall Street Journal, to the Economist, to medical and technology news reports. Well, there is a new answer for this question: The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross.
Alec Ross began as a teacher with the organization Teach for America. This work led to a career in service and Ross ultimately co-founded the nonprofit One Economy. One Economy employs novel ways of delivering “technology and information about education, jobs and healthcare to low-income people.” Ross has since served as Senior Advisor for Innovation to Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State traveling to over 40 countries discovering technological advancements.
The Industries of the Future focuses on what businesses will drastically impact our world. Ross focuses on three main points: artificial intelligence, commercialization of Genomics, and languages. According to Ross, these industries could have a similar if not greater effect as the internet over the next ten years. In addition, Ross describes what educational supplements will be most beneficial to students outside of the classroom.
Over the next few weeks, I will be providing my thoughts and opinions as I work my way through this fascinating book. I will also be discussing how specifically Gonzaga is contributing to these areas of innovation.
The workplace today seems to be especially interested in millennials. Why? Because they are the emerging generation in the workforce. Millennials have grown up as digital natives and are innately technologically savvy. Our world is moving mobile and millennials are a powerful resource in discussing this transition.
While interning this summer, I was the youngest millennial in my department. In fact, I was the only college student at my location. Millennials are often associated with social media. Coworkers constantly presented me with social media questions such as “how does your generation use this platform?” “How frequently do you use it?” “Do you engage with companies and brands on social media? Or is it just for personal use.” I was excited that my opinion was valued and that I actually had insight to offer. I would explain the social side of millennials using media and my coworkers would explain the technical and commerce side. It was a win, win.
Part of my internship work was directly connected to my identity as a millennial. I selected and wrote content for Instagram and cataloged Wells Fargo specific information to be published on other platforms. I would choose content that I thought would be relevant to Wells customers and make a positive and measurable impact to their online presence. In addition, I was able to select images that would best portray and reinforce the brand of Wells Fargo while communicating a story. I had a great time learning all about corporate media and the imperative role it plays in business. I was also able to conduct a research project and present my findings to my department. The presentation included company best practices, millennial interviews and potential use cases.
I was able to participate in meetings with leading social media companies such as Facebook and Pinterest. I was even able to attend a meeting held at Pinterest’s headquarters, it was like eating lunch in a pinboard itself. As an avid social media user it was an amazing experience working directly with the companies that I engage with every day.
It is clear that employing millennials is mutually beneficial. The companies are able to obtain first-hand insight to the generation’s lifestyle and the millennials are able to learn about corporate work culture while engaging with working professionals.
After my sophomore year at Gonzaga, I took a leap of faith. I purchased a one-way ticket to San Francisco, placed an order for a futon that I would call “bed” for the next eight weeks and packed my bags. I would be spending my summer in the Golden Gate City interning for Wells Fargo in their Enterprise Social Media Department. I am a Public Relations major with a minor in English and Promotion. Interning for a company as large as Wells Fargo was a daunting thought. However, working for a large corporation provided great training and experience.
Based on my time there, here are eight keys to a successful internship:
- Be a good listener: It is important to be a good listener. You will learn by listening. Go to every meeting possible. Even if you have to skip lunch, the time you are able to spend with working professionals in the field or industry that you are interested in is incredibly valuable.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: The company/organization hired an intern for a reason. Companies want interns who are eager to learn. There is no textbook for how to have a successful internship so learn by experience. If they wanted an expert they would have hired a full time employee. Asking questions will help you make decisions about your career path. You can ask questions about work or professional life. Do you ever see coworkers on the weekend? Have you always been in this industry? How long is your commute to work?
- Always be early: Being early to work will show that you are excited for each day you have the opportunity to intern. You will learn by being early. Always give yourself ample time to get to the office in case of traffic or road closures.
- Keep an in-office journal: I kept a journal of industry terminology I heard around the office and in meetings. I would research and memorize them on the commute home from work to ensure I could meaningfully participate in conversations. Bring your journal to meetings or conferences, if someone asks you your opinion.
- Keep an org-chart in your desk: Your first week you will most likely be given a flow chart of your organization- hang on to it! If you are not given one don’t be afraid to ask. Your employer will like that you are taking an initiative to learn more about the company culture. Keeping an org-chart in your desk will allow you to understand the structure of your company. Who is your boss, who is your boss’s boss etc.? It will also help to put faces to names. Co-workers will be impressed that you know who they are.
- Be yourself: Always be yourself, a professional and genuine version of yourself. It is easy to tell if someone is being disingenuous and that is not the image you want to portray. If you are not yourself, you will never know how well you assimilate with the company environment.
- Study the company: Studying the company is especially imperative when interviewing. Understand what your company stands for rather than just what they do. Who are their competitors, why are they competitors? Who are the largest shareholders? Who is the CEO? Have they had any recent mergers? Where is the headquarters?
- Keep a personal notebook of your experience: It is easy to remember highlights of your experience and specific skills acquired at the time but what about 3 or 5 months later? Keeping a personal notebook to document your experiences is a great way to never forget what you learned. Make sure to date the pages so you can track your progress. Tape business cards and interesting meeting quotes inside. Make it reflective of your time. This will also come in handy if you ever have to write about your internship experience in class or discuss work experience with future employers.
Treat an internship as a full-time job and embrace every minute of it. Don’t worry about making mistakes- everyone makes them! I had my fair share of office mishaps. Whether it’s burning something in the office kitchen, getting a nametag stuck in your hair at a conference, or showing up to three wrong buildings before finding the correct location, mistakes happen. They are part of the learning experience!