At the SAS UK Office in Marlow we are very fortunate to have a number of interns working here. I’m always amazed at how professional, prepared and just downright smart these students are.
I recently asked one of our interns: Josie Comber, who is a student at the University of Leeds to share a little about her experience and any advice she would have for students pursuing an internship.
Here are her thoughts.
Did you know that the planet is poised to create 180 trillion gigabytes of data in 2025? Did you also know that at least 60 trillion of those will be pictures of dogs wearing sunglasses? (That second one is unverified, but I am confident it’s the case).I discovered this fact in my first week at SAS and promptly decided that I’m pursuing the wrong degree; not only because I want to be able to manipulate data in the dogs-wearing-sunglasses world of the future, but also because of the impact that working in a driven, innovative workplace has on one’s mindset.
Although I got eased in (a week of research on the history of SAS and some training courses to let me find my feet), things stepped up rather quickly: I got to attend and help at a Customer Intelligence Forum which was not only incredibly interesting, but showed me exactly how much work and preparation goes into making these events run; I helped create and launch a Facebook campaign and organise an Instagram campaign; and I helped plan the Online Skills Fair for Data Scientists 2017 (coming in October, details to be published soon – make sure you attend!)
Here are some of the things I learned during my six week internship. (If you don’t have time to read all of these; just get yourself some highlighters and post-it notes, and remember that it’s cool to try. You’re going to be brilliant.)
Organisation is everything.
Step One: locate the sticky notes app on your brand-new regulation laptop. Step Two: use them to write everything down. No, seriously. That thing that guy said that you are sure you’ll remember in ten minutes when you have to build a PowerPoint? You won’t. Put it on a sticky note. The day you forget your miked-up headphones is that day you get told you need to take part in a conference call. It sounds like something you get told in secondary school, but pack your bag the night before, memorise your calendar for the day, and always have a pen in your pocket.
Volunteer for everything.
You hear someone on the other side of the office desperately looking for some lined paper and you know where the stationary cupboard is? Go and get them the lined paper. It might just turn out that they are your boss’s boss, and next time they need someone to take on an international conference, you, you motivated little bean, spring straight to mind. Make yourself “the helpful one.”
Be early for everything.
In my second week, I had been invited to a proper meeting – I didn’t need to be there, it was a favour from the head of marketing who allowed me to go. I messed up my timings and ended up ten minutes late, standing outside a room full of forty people that I didn’t know, all sat in silence, listening to someone else speak. Guess who bottled it, turned right back around and didn’t get to sit in? Lesson learnt. Get to everything five minutes early so you don’t have to sit in the rubbish chair at the back, can get a coffee and say hi to the (more-important-than-you) person chairing the meeting.
Don’t complain about things.
There is absolutely no point in half-arsing things at this point. Save that for when this is your actual job. You are the one who chose to wear those ridiculous shoes because they looked great in your bedroom when you could just stand still in front of the mirror. No one cares if your feet hurt. Wear flats tomorrow. When someone puts a box of books down next to you and asks you to package them up nicely and you say ‘Really?’ , all you’re doing is making yourself sound like a child who doesn’t know how to behave in an office. That’s not how you get hired. Pack up the books. Pretend you love packing books. Pretend you have dreamt of this day for years.
Anticipate people’s needs.
No-one is asking you to be Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada. Your boss probably does not need artfully arranged magazines on her desk in the morning, nor a just-opened bottle of sparkling water. However, offering to get coffee for people when you get up to get your fifth one of the day (at 11am) is honestly always a good move. If in your meeting someone mentions getting an article written about some software, Facebook message that boy you went to school with, the one who does computer science now for a living, and ask him if he wants to write an article about that software. Be proactive. Try really hard. It’s cool to try. Trust me.
Talk to everyone.
If you sit there on your first day, fifteen desks away from everyone else, with your headphones on, and eat lunch on your own, people are not going to come over and try and make friends with you. You look like a grumpy snail. Instead, try and sit next to some friendly-looking people. When they all get up to go to lunch, tactically get up too. Say, ‘Are you going to lunch?’ There is at least a seventy-three percent chance they will invite you to go with them. Boom! You’ve made four friends. Go you.
In conclusion: a SAS internship is worth every single 5am start and every caffeine-induced eye spasm. Lunch costs £1.70, guys. And you get unlimited curly fries. I’ve done things in these five weeks that even Meryl Streep would be proud of, from creating social media campaigns to helping plan events, and I’d urge anyone who has an interest to get involved – whether that’s by downloading SAS University Edition and learning how it works, or applying for a job with SAS. It’s the kind of opportunity that really doesn’t come around every day – the kind of opportunity you have to grab with both hands and hold on to, really tightly.