An Intern's Experience: Expectations vs. Reality of the Corporate World

7 min read

It's June 16th at 8:45a.m, and it's my first day as a new intern. Nervous and anxious as any intern would feel, I had many expectations as to what my position would entail. As my summer comes to an end, it's safe to say that my internship flew by far too quickly. After spending two months in a corporate environment I realized my expectations were incredibly different from the reality of what it was like working at Xactly: Expectation Before Internship: I was going to sit in a cubicle all day and only work on projects directly related to my department. Corporate Reality: The office was my oyster. Although I was a marketing intern, my workload was not always specific to my department. It was an interactive experience that enabled me to expand my knowledge of several different aspects of our company, as well as to better who I am as an individual as I enter the real world. From learning about the importance of customer support, to discovering how our products work, to understanding how to compose a stellar resume and have proper office etiquette, I gained a basic skill set that has prepared me to put my best foot forward when I enter the job market after graduating school next Spring. Expectation Before Internship: As an intern I would only work on projects and tasks like coffee runs, gathering food orders, and data entry. Corporate Reality: My work made an impact. Even as an intern, I felt like my voice was heard and I was able to contribute to the creative process. Not only did seeing my writing published on the company blog put a smile on my face, but to see it bringing traffic to our website made me feel like my contributions were having an impact on the company. Expectation Before Internship: I'd be the lonely intern who doesn't fit in because everyone already had their established group of friends. Corporate Reality: These fun and friendly groups took me under their wing and became my family. The people I saw everyday became more than just familiar faces walking through the hallways, they became my close friends and respected family. This made me realize the importance of building relationships and being a part of a team. When it came to the marketing department, it was the sense of camaraderie and the presence of hard-working individuals striving towards a common goal that inspired me to be as engaged as possible. At Xactly, we worked hard, laughed hard, and smiled a lot. Expectation Before Internship: I would never interact with anyone whose title started with a "C" and ended in an "O." Corporate Reality: Not only did I see executives walk around the office every day with smiles on their faces, but they genuinely cared to get to know who I was. Saying I was star struck might be an understatement when it came to sitting a foot away from my CEO during a luncheon. Despite being busy with their everyday jobs, our CEO, CFO, and several other executives blocked out two hours of their day every Wednesday for a "lunch and learn" where the interns had the honor of listening, conversing, and getting exposure to the leaders of the company. It was a great way to start building a network. As an intern, hearing stories about how they started, where they have been, and how they got to be where they are today was truly inspiring, and this experience stands as one of the highlights of my summer at Xactly. Expectation Before Internship: The only thing I was going to miss at the end of my internship was the fridge stocked with Red-Bull and the kitchen full of free food. Corporate Reality: I'm going to miss the thing that made my hour commute worth it every morning: the company's culture. If there is one thing Xactly taught me this summer, it is the importance of company culture. I learned that working with people that are passionate about what they do and believe in the company makes for a successful workplace. This internship taught me to not focus so much on a specific job title or salary, but to work in a place that gets me excited about what I'm doing and inspires me to perform to the best of my abilities. Whether it's through company BBQ's on the parking lot rooftop, community service projects, department off-site events, or even going to lunch with your co-workers, the highly-energized culture at Xactly has set the bar high for my future employment at other corporations. Now that I have completed my first official summer as an intern, my advice to future interns wherever your internship may be:

  • Take advantage of everything that comes your way.
  • Be nice to everyone you meet, because you never know whom you might come across in the future, or even if that person will help you get hired one day.
  • Take pride in your work and be thankful for the opportunity; it's a wonderful adventure and there are many people who would be thrilled to be in your shoes.

Thank you, Xactly, for an unforgettable summer.