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What’s It Really Like to Intern at a Big Company Like IBM? A Former Intern Separates Fact from Fiction

Laura Varela
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Published on November 8, 2017

This post originally appeared on the IBM Jobs Blog. In it, Laura Varela, a student at SUNY Oneonta and former IBM Marketing and Communications intern, debunks three common misconceptions about interning for a big company like IBM.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my experience as an IBM intern, as well as certain misconceptions about internships in general. Ten weeks into my internship, here are my realizations and advice on how to make your internship experience successful.

Myth #1: At a large company, you’re only intern #363920474
Truth: Some people may flinch at being called an “intern,” thinking about coffee runs and evil copy machines. But over a 10-week program, IBM offers internships that parallel the responsibilities of a first “real job”.

As an intern, I gained hands-on experience and was in direct communication with everyone from managers to senior executives. I was challenged on a daily basis, and our work had a real-life impact, and we were able to see the ripples of our daily tasks across other departments. Not once did I wish my day would go faster. If anything, I wished I had more time to do a coffee run!

Myth #2: You’ll be stuck in whatever internship position they offer you
If there’s anything college students don’t want, it’s a static way of life. We’re afraid that our office jobs will become boring very quickly. However, the most productive element of my internship was the opportunity to view how a large organization works.

My managers were quick to realize that I had a desire to learn more about our team and its effect across the company. I was assigned to support an important announcement involving people and departments across the company. The experience taught me about the immense coordination it takes to make news happen.

You should never be shy about asking to learn and do more. Internships exist to provide opportunities, and it’s up to us interns to seek them out!

Myth #3: Internships at large corporations are only good for your resume
At a time when employers’ hiring requirements continue to increase, an IBM internship on your resume can certainly catch their eye. But a bullet point on your resume will only take you so far. From my first day at IBM, the internship offered me opportunity after opportunity to apply my knowledge and learn new things. I built new skills, hard and soft, that not only related to my day-to-day, but will follow me to the professional workforce. I saw how managers and executives worked and how they recognized a job well done. IBM will certainly be a line on my resume, but it was also an incredible experience that I know has prepared me for my next professional step.

Tips for Succeeding at Your Own Internship

In preparation for your own internship, be it at IBM or elsewhere, be prepared, do your homework, think about how to show your strengths, be clear on your objectives, and learn about the company and its leaders in advance.

Here’s some great advice that was given to us by IBM Chief Marketing Officer Michelle Peluso:

1. Surround yourself with great leaders. Make yourself known to them and listen to what they have to say because their wisdom gained from experience will help shape you.

2. Create balance. Your time is important, and you should strike a healthy balance between your work and personal life. By doing so, you will gain a thoughtfulness of time, and your work will be stronger.

3. Have a genuine passion for what you do. Your attitude plays a massive role in how this internship affects you. Be excited to learn and work, and ask yourself: “what can I contribute?”

See yourself at IBM? They’re hiring now! Explore open positions on WayUp.

Laura Varela Guest Contributor

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