The Internship Experience: Week 9

This post is part of our weekly series, The Internship Experience. This series details the experiences of Thomas, Amy, and Sean as interns at The Principal Financial Group. For a full recap, check out the series preview.

It’s been a few weeks since I last shared about my internship experience, but in those few weeks it seems like a lot has happened. When I last wrote, I mentioned that I had been working on planning and organizing The Principal’s booth and volunteer efforts at the Des Moines Arts Festival at the end of June.  The event went together really smoothly, and for the most part the weather cooperated nicely, which made the event a huge success.

One of the funniest moments of the weekend came Friday evening. Because there was a heavy chance of thunderstorms early Saturday morning, we decided it would be best to pack up all of our materials and bring them inside. We loaded box after box onto our cart to move into the Pappjohn Building across the street.  The only problem: the cart had wheels and at the end of the street was a plastic road bump that stored all the wiring from all of the tents in the area.  It was obvious we weren’t getting over it, so we wheeled the cart all the way down a block, but that didn’t help because we ran into the exact same problem.  With very few other options, we decided to go for it. We backed the cart up and with full speed ahead attempted to make it over the bump. The key word in that sentence, of course, would be “attempted.” Most of the boxes fell over and we had to hand-carry them inside.  However, it left us all laughing, and after working nearly 15 hours that day, that felt good.

At the end of the weekend, it was nice to sit back and appreciate the accomplishment. The success of the event truly came from collaboration among myself, another intern in my department, other employees and more than 40 volunteers who helped over the course of the weekend. It really was a team effort and taught me a lot about event planning and making sure you plan ahead and are well organized.

The Arts Festival was a neat opportunity to work with people from across the company that I would not normally get the chance to work with. The Principal has a large amount of volunteer opportunities that provide employees the chance to work with others, which is really neat. They have what is called the Principal Volunteer Network (PVN), which organizes volunteer opportunities around the community. Since I’m in the Corporate Relations, I’ve had the chance to work with some of the committee members at promoting their volunteer events, which has been a great opportunity. It’s neat to work for a company that values volunteer service so much because that is something that is important to me. In fat, every employee receives eight hours of Volunteer Time Off (VTO), which is similar to PTO, except you can use it at volunteer events.

Besides meeting other employees at volunteer events like the Arts Festival, I have found that The Principal makes it really easy to have a fun time working. Department meetings are a mix between getting a lot accomplished and socializing and getting to know people, which I think is neat. The Valued Intern at The Principal (VIP) program also does a great job of connecting all the interns. Each intern can choose to serve on a committee. I’m on the communication committee, so I’ve worked with Amy and Thomas to write blog posts, choose t-shirt designs and plan the intern awards program. And there are also social events nearly every week and lunch and learns with senior management every few weeks for interns to attend.

It seems crazy that next month will be my last summer intern blog post. The last couple of months have really flown by. I hope that I’ve shown you a glimpse into what my internship experience has been like. Feel free to ask me any questions, and next month I hope to offer some tips and advice that I’ve learned since starting at The Principal in May.

Sean is a senior in Public Relations at Drake University. He's also a Corporate Relations intern at Principal Financial Group. You can connect with him on Twitter!

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