Entering the Real World, Breaking Out of the Shell

As a college student, all I want to do during the summer is layout at the lake, eat my parent’s food, and enjoy the life of no responsibilities. However, with my future ahead of me, I knew being a summer bum just wasn’t an option. As I began searching for an internship, the anxiety started to build up. I felt like a volcano that might soon erupt. What if my boss was mean and old? What if my only job was to be their helpless slave that they only knew as “coffee girl”? Or what if I had zero friends and I end up being the girl at lunch who eats alone? This and many more thoughts of apprehension circled around my head.

I knew nothing about what my internship at C&A would entail, but I finally started my summer “big girl job” on May 19, 2014. Naturally, I began my day going to the wrong building for orientation. The result of this was that I became the awkward girl who arrived late on the first day and had to sit in the front row. You could say I was off to a great start. Packet after packet was given to us, including how to work the company phone and how to work with all the company software. It was a bit of an information overload. After sitting for an entire day watching countless “how-to” videos, I finally felt more official when they assigned me to my personal cubicle and email.

The top piece of advice I was given, was to get as much out of this internship as possible. “Investing $100 today creates much more value than investing $100 in a decade.” (Clara Shih) I was determined to get involved with every opportunity and to leave with more knowledge and experience. My internship at C&A Industries has given me just that. However, when you put a girl who has been sheltered her entire life, into a major company with over 400 other people, it’s more than a little intimidating.

But, the first thing that C&A did was make me feel like part of their growing family. Networking and branching out became a main focus as part of the internship program. I was introduced to around 30 people in my division and also met each member of the internship program, including all of the executives. As interns we are given the opportunity to meet with each other at least once a week. This has helped expand our network and communication skills. One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re shy, that’s just too bad. You have to get out there and be sociable! The people you meet today may be the people who help you succeed tomorrow.

Being an intern at a major company can make it easier to get your foot in the door. If you want to lick envelopes all day and staple paper your whole life, this wouldn’t be the internship for you. Most companies these days want to hire an individual that has some background experience before they graduate college. The best way to do this is to take advantage of every learning opportunity, even if it includes alphabetizing files. Ask questions, listen, and observe. This shows that you are interested in the company and that you want to thrive. C&A works one-on-one with its interns and strives to help them succeed by giving them multiple projects throughout their time here. These projects give us the chance to express ourselves and give us a sense of personal identity within a larger company. I have had the opportunity to work on many projects within my division and they have allowed me to add sizzle and pizzazz; to really express my personality. Giving 100% on the projects and tasks at hand is the best way to leave a good impression and make yourself memorable.

Transitioning from college life into the real world is a challenge. However, if you put yourself out there, I think the sky is the limit. C&A Industries has given me the opportunity to gain real life experience, while giving me the chance to express myself through projects and within the company. I have learned to think outside the box, to not be afraid of making friends, to make my own suggestions, and to ask questions. Success here begins with you. When you are ready to take chances and put yourself out there, then you will gain more than just experience. You will build relationships, endless amounts of knowledge, and a great resume.

Joselyn WojtalewiczJoselyn Wojtalewicz is a senior at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, majoring in Marketing and Business Management. She is part of the internship program at C&A Industries and works with the Student Outreach division in the Rehab Therapy department. Joselyn is a sports fanatic and aspires to further her career by getting involved with a sports team or company. When Joselyn isn’t spending time coming up with innovative marketing techniques, she likes to spend time with her friends and family and play different golf courses all around the country.

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