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The Internship Experience: Weeks 3 + 4

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.

Alright, first off I’m deeply sorry for not getting around to posting an Internship Experience post last week; you’ll simply have to deal with it. If you need support due to Internship Experience post withdrawals, you can contact me here.

That said, I’m covering both this week and last week in this post, so quit complaining. I’ve also got a cool announcement-type thingy to tell you, which I’ll get to in a second.

Before that, however, I’d just like to let you know that I’m typing this post on my friend Andy’s computer, as I’m not at home today. I actually took the day off of work to come up to Ames and meet with a bunch of cool people. Andy’s workstation is pretty ballin’, so I took the liberty of posting it:

Andy's desk
Pretty badass in my opinion.

Since he’s at a party right now and doesn’t know I’m on his computer (I’m hanging with his roommate), I’ll also share this adorable little note I found on his desktop:



Alright, on to the announcement. At work on Wednesday I had my first meeting with the Intern Communications committee. Comprised of myself along with three other interns, this committee is tasked with updating the intern Sharepoint, designing and distributing an intern T-shirt, and setting up events for interns.

The last task delegated to the Communication committee was to start a blog about our experiences as interns. When this task was brought up, I shyly raised my hand and said something to the effect of, “Hey guys, I’m kinda already doing this. Oh, and my blog gets lots of readers.” That pretty much decided the issue. And so, for the rest of the summer, we’ll now have three writers doing Internship Experience posts. This series will still be released every Friday, but I will only share my personal experiences every 3rd week. The other weeks will be covered by one other other two writers. They are:

  • Sean Walsh, a Marketing major at Drake University interning in Corporate Relations and Marketing
  • Amy Cooney, an Accounting major at Iowa State University interning in the Finance department

With the addition of these two writers, you’ll now be able to get perspective from three different areas of a corporation: IT, Finance, and Marketing. Hopefully this will make The Internship Experience series more valuable to a wider base of students.

Alright, let’s move on to my internship experience of the past two weeks. Both this week and last week were four-day weeks; last week because of Memorial Day, and this week because I took today off. I learned something about myself during these past two weeks – I really like three-day weekends! Therefore, I think I’ll take advantage of Principal’s flex time policy to start working 10-hour days Monday-Thursday and take Fridays off. Hopefully this arrangement will give me a larger block of focused time to work on things like this site!

Last week marked the first week when I actually felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. There were actually a few things I could complete on my own, although a good amount of my work still was over my head. One fact of life that’s being drilled into my head over and over again here is this this: the skills you need to do your job are basically learned by doing work a lot. There really isn’t a book I can read or a manual I can look at – I just have to practice navigating the firewall and proxy software until I know how to use it. Nothing reinforced this concept more than asking one of my co-workers a where I could look up the answer to a certain question, and then having him give me the answer and tell me it can’t be looked up. Most of the knowledge that can be gained here will be gained through hands-on experience.

Another thing I’m really noticing now is that I’m not really treated as a stereotypical “intern” – oh sure, some of the employees crack jokes about how “the intern should have to buy us pizza”, but on the whole I get to do a lot of the same things they do and work with them on a fairly equal level. Also, most of them will actually take time to really draw things out and make sure I understand them. It’s really helpful to actually learn, in-depth, the inner workings of the things I’m messing with. There’s less of a chance that I’ll bring down the network and start Armageddon, anyway.

I’m also started to see my calendar fill up; there were a lot of company events and meetings that went on during the last two weeks. One of the coolest was a Q & A session with Steven Weber, the voice of the Principal commercials. You might know him from the TV show Wings if you’re… older. I had certainly never heard of it. However, that didn’t deter me from nabbing a photo-op:

Me with Steven Weber
Me with Steven Weber

There was also a “Town Meeting” this week, where we got to hear the CEO of the company speak about his dream to visit a bunch of awesome hotels and the bright future of the company.

Yesterday, the whole group of interns went on a tour of the skywalk system. What is funny about this tour is that I ended up leading it for a little while – spending my lunch breaks wandering around really pays off!

I suppose the last thing I’ll mention is that I’ve been moved already – the department is bringing in a couple of new full-time people, so I got the boot to a different cube. The change of scenery is MIND-BLOWING:

New Cube
New Cube


So, I think that’s all I’ve got to go over this week. As always, if you’ve got any questions about internships, ask away in the comments or on Facebook, or hit us up on Twitter. Peace.

Want to find out what happens next? Check out Part 5.