This is what dreams are made of.

In my last blog, Nine Months Later…  I mentioned that over my time at home this summer I worked an internship with Quicken Loans. As promised, here is my follow up.

I never would have pictured myself working full-time for a corporate company at age 20… but this summer, that is exactly what I did and I enjoyed it a thousand times more than I could have ever imagined.

It all began back in February when I began looking for an internship to complete over the summer. I had heard good things about the internship program at Quicken Loans, so I spent some time reading up about the company and its culture before deciding it was definitely a place where I could see myself learning a lot and also loving my job. I hurried up and sent in my application, knowing there would be thousands of applicants, but hoping for some reason mine would stand out among the rest.

A few weeks after applying, I received my first interview. It went well and my application was passed on for another level of interviews. This actually happened several times before I found out I was selected for a position working with the Quicken Loans FOCUS team. I was unsure what the FOCUS team meant, and I asked several employees (recruiters, and the people interviewing me) and no one seemed to be quite sure exactly what their position (and specifically my position) would entail. However, it wasn’t long before I found out.

On June 10 (which happened to be my 20th birthday!) I woke up anxious, nervous, hopeful and excited. I put on my most professional outfit, spent an hour doing my hair and make up, and got a ride downtown because I thought my mind was not going to be focused on driving, which would be terrible since I was going to be driving in downtown Detroit morning commute traffic for the first time ever. I hopped out of the car with a smile on my face, ready to tackle whatever the day was to throw at me. The minute I walked into the Compuware building and met the recruiters in person for the first time, I knew this internship was going to change my life.

Quicken Loans has an unimaginable company culture. I had heard rumors that the company had popcorn machines in its kitchens/break rooms and that it had some game rooms as well, but in reality there were popcorn machines, slush machines, free snacks, free coffee, a pool table made out of a Ford Mustang and so much more.

However, fancy snacks and game tables are the furthest thing from what made my internship amazing (though they were great perks). What I experienced and learned through my internship was something I don’t feel I could have gotten at an internship anywhere else.

The team I was working for, FOCUSed on Imagitivity (aka, the Unicorns!), is the team that deals with designing all of the employee spaces for Quicken Loans. If you haven’t seen what a Quicken Loans office looks like, I’ve shared some photos I took this summer. Basically, if it is white or beige or looks like a cubicle, you won’t see it in a QL space. You’d have a better chance finding a wall of graffiti, a pink plastic throne or a 10-foot horse statue wearing rainbow socks.

As a team, we spent the summer taking all the amazing things we do for Quicken Loans and developed our team into a separate (sister) company called dPOP! dPOP! officially launched on Aug. 16, the day before I returned to Alma. My specific role in prepping dPOP! for launch included writing the mission statement, producing email templates and other creative writing pieces, updating our social media sites and content daily as well as rolling out some new social media tools, photographing our spaces to help build content for the website, and basically assisting with any other task that seemed to pop up over the summer.

As you can tell, this was no paper-pushing, “go get me a coffee”-type of internship. I was treated no different than any of the full-time team members and was given just as much responsibility with very important tasks. My team leaders put me on tasks they knew would challenge me but that I would enjoy and from which I would benefit tremendously.

While working at my internship I learned several things:

  1. In relation to friends and coworkers, it is so important to find what good you bring out in others and also the good they bring out in you. I was lucky to have been placed on a team of creative, intelligent, and all-around happy people. We had similar career aspirations and we all learned from one another.
  2. When you’re on the job, you learn a different set of skills than you would from a textbook. You are able to begin making connections to your college courses.
  3. Everyone, if relevant, should try to have an internship before graduation. It is a great way to give you confidence that you are going into the correct field (or maybe it will help you realize a field or track is not for you).

After reading about my internship, are you wondering how you can get an internship yourself?  At Alma you have a couple of options. The first, and main, thing you should do is take a trip over to the Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) and meet with one of the great people over there. They can help you find internship opportunities, prepare a résumé and even hold a practice interview for you.  The second option is keep an eye out for career events on campus. For example, Oct. 4 brings CareerEXPLO, an event where alumni and other professionals from a wide range of careers will be on campus to share their experiences with students.  The event is from 3-5 p.m. in the Stone Center for Recreation and if you’re planning on attending, be sure to (1) bring 15-20 copies of your résumé to present to potential employers and alumni and (2) dress to impress. Furthermore, students in the Class of 2017 and beyond can take advantage of “venture grants” of up to $2,500 to help support applied learning experiences, such as internships, Posey Global experiences, Spring Term courses, etc.

As the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know what it is when you find it.”

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