MIS 3581, Summer 2017–Laurel Miller

Discussion Question #6: You can’t learn everything in the classroom….

What lessons did you learn during your internship that you just couldn’t learn in the classroom or from a textbook?

42 Responses to Discussion Question #6: You can’t learn everything in the classroom….

  • Email etiquette has been a huge thing to learn during my internship. Some components were more simple like establishing a format, or knowing who the correct person is to send the email to. However, other components were more complicated. Things like practicing brevity so people actually read your message, or knowing when and when not to CC a person on an email, or deciding whether or not an email should be present in a person’s inbox when they get back from vacation, etc. Learning to be courteous with email has been a whole new adventure, and I’m still learning!

  • There are a great deal of concepts in life that would be lost if tried to be taught in a “textbook” manner, and that goes the very same in the business environment. First and foremost, the obvious answer is communication skills and general “approachability”. For one, nothing would ever get done if no one was able to communicate and articulate accurately and concisely. To understand how to talk to different kinds of people and make the communication a beneficial interaction for all parties involved indeed is a talent. Individuals who can collaborate effectively and efficiently succeed more often than they fail. Furthermore, there is most definitely an aspect of “culture” in any company out there. Different companies attract different people. If you fit in at your company, then great. If you enjoy the work and the culture, what more reason could you have to stay? Otherwise, some may clash with company culture, which may turn even the most fun job into a chore, depending on the attitude you have every day. No one ever teaches you how to analyze and interpret company culture. Does everyone take an hour lunch, or only “slackers”? What is the manner of casual talking in the office? Are you comfortable with the conversations that are often had among your coworkers? All of these things could make or break a job for someone, even if it is their dream job. Keeping these things in mind is crucial to one’s career path.

  • I had the honor to learn about Microsoft Access and play with new software such as Infor. Most of my classes were about developing our critical thinking and how we should proceed with the project when there are issues. The most interesting think I learned in classroom was about HTML and PHP. However, working in the internship, I learned also to create simple databases in Access and link them with our system. Another useful and interesting thing I learned was to update real-time data in the Infor software. I learned that we should not be often changing real time data since the system is doing it automatically. If we manually change anything, it can “confuse” the system and it will show abnormalities. I am thankful to have a great internship and able to learn new skills.

  • Company culture is something I’ve had to adjust to in all of the jobs I’ve had, whether it be a grocery store or a state agency. Working in a corporate environment is completely different from the classroom, and can take some time to adjust to. Although some classes, HRM comes to mind, try to inform you about the different types of corporate cultures, you’ll never be well equipped to make those adjustments unless you put yourself in that environment. Corporate culture is something that really intrigues me, as it can impact how a business functions. Making sure you find the right culture for your personality can be crucial to your happiness and success on the job.

  • While the classroom helps prepare you for an internship, the most important learning comes on the job. One lesson I have learned is how to behave and communicate with different members of your team. The way you act with another analyst or associate is completely different that the way you would act with a Managing Director or Executive Director. The classroom forces us to work in teams with other classmates, however, it does not teach us how to work in teams with people with all different roles, experience, and authority. Another lesson that I have learned during my internship is how to utilize many of the firms internal applications. The Internal Audit department within JPMC utilizes many applications that are specific to our teams that no one else knows how to use or has access to. I have had to learn how to leverage many of this tools in order to complete my tasks.

  • Lessons I have learned from AmerisourceBergen that I just couldn’t learn in a classroom is workplace etiquette and professional behavior. In a classroom it is not as formal nor professional compared to a corporate job and it is also hard to reach out to fellow classmates because in most cases it is not necessary. I could sit through an entire semester of a college class and only speak to 3-4 students if not otherwise required. Yet in the workforce, it is not only necessary to reach out to others in my team or other departments but it is also highly beneficial because everyone there is either in a similar career path or are far more experienced than me in a certain aspect of being an employee. I realize how much there is to learn from everyone here so I try to make it a habit to reach out to others and ask questions. It is especially helpful because they are all willing to help and understand what it’s like as a new associate. This internship has taught me how to remain humble as a newcomer but also try to learn as much as I can and challenge myself to get as much out of this experience as possible. It has also taught me to use what I know and not be afraid to voice my opinions and ask important questions which could lead to potential solutions. I believe that real life hands on experiences help me learn far more than reading examples in a text book. But it is because I have sat through classrooms and learned the technical skills that I have that I was given a chance to learn even more here.

  • The skill that I learned at my internship that I could not learn in the classroom is good communication. Working among different co workers with different personalities is an important part of advancing yourself in your career and thriving in the position that you are in. Diversity can bring different ideas to the table that might have been over looked. Learning how to facilitate, listen, and direct phone conferences and group meetings is a critical skill to have. One of the most recent lessons I learned is that you have to compromise. Sometimes the best ideas/decisions are not going to be yours and you have to be able to accept that and move along with the group for the betterment of the company.

  • The truth is, what you learn in the classroom only shapes your thinking and sort of prepares you for life after school. What we learn in school is mainly based off of theory: how to react in certain situations. However, until you actually gain some experience in the work world, you wouldn’t know how to apply the knowledge and put it into practice. For example, I learned, separately, the risk management tools as well as certain risks to be aware of during Doyle’s MIS 3535 class (e.g., don’t build a data center near an airport, or even when and how to add buffers when making project tasks and deadlines). But in case of Murphy’s Law, when everything you planned for ends up going wrong, how do you react?
    During the internship, we were faced with a problem of too many people attempting to use a form online at the same time. To ensure that we do not lose any of the data, we had to quickly react by putting a temporarily hold on the website, setting up a separate form using Google sheets and Typeform, and allowing impatient users to fill out those forms. Then, we manually transferred the data.
    The quick thinking saved us a lot of time and effort; however, this is not something that we could have experience or even learned in a classroom setting.

  • There aren’t rules in business. Many companies will do whatever it takes to get the next customer but not always service the ones they already have. It is quite common for management in companies to put their interests before the customer as we’ve seen with other examples in Corporate America. Something that’s extremely important and a great way for a company to differentiate itself is to offer outstanding customer service and customer support. When a company does this they not only build customer loyalty but they are also allowing customers to recommend their products and services to others. In a world where customer support is mostly lackluster, stellar support sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Also it is not always what you know that helps you succeed, but who you know that can help open doors for you.

  • To touch up with what another student said, I believe that email is something important I learned at my internship. We all know how to write a simple email, but to make it professional and proper setup is a different story. I never used to break down my email into paragraphs or add professional details at the bottom. I also learned that deleting a sentence several times before you get it right is typical. Learning the appropriate setup for emails and proper grammar is extremely important because this determines how the recipient views you.

  • Honestly there is no way to completely prepare for a job; the only way to “learn” it is to do it. You really never stop learning. Your first day of an internship is in many ways like the first day of a class, but less organized. You just need to stay open minded, ask a lot of questions, and listen. I’ve learned a lot at Cigna that they did not teach us in a classroom. I learned how to set up meetings and events on Outlook, how to join and host conference calls, and how to navigate all of the complicated company sites. Most large companies offer so many helpful internal tools to help you navigate the company and learn more about the industry you are in. I’ve learned how to take full advantage of these tools, such us the employee look up and organizational charts. I also have become more comfortable with planning and hosting events for my team and with creating tables and charts in Excel.

  • As previous students said, communication and learning specific applications are something that are best taught in a work setting as well as many others. In business communications, we were taught how to communicate effectively theoretically. In my internship experience, I write e-mails and it is important to format it correctly and to be clear as possible to get your message across. In my department we use certain applications that were not taught at Temple during my time such as JMP, Minitab, and Spotfire. Therefore, learning from experienced workers who have worked with these applications has been really beneficial for me. It is one thing to learn about a certain topic in school and it is another to actually apply the concept in a real life setting.

  • Over the past six weeks I’ve picked up on a number of intangibles relating to etiquette. The level of formality you use when talking with colleagues of varying positions, how long it is appropriate to take for lunch, and when to speak up in a meeting versus when to listen are all things that I had to figure out through a mix of common sense and observing other colleagues behavior. No one ever expressly teaches you these things, but they are important to know so that you do not stand out in a negative way. If ever I’m in a situation where I do not know how to act in accordance with best etiquette, I reach out to my mentor to ask for advice. Colleagues who have experience and are also willing to give help and advice are really valuable resources.

  • One of the biggest things has been how to handle meetings over the phone or over Skype. We use email often enough at college, but when do we ever have meetings over the phone? I know I never have until coming to Cigna. For example, I had to learn that when you join a meeting over the phone you should introduce yourself instead of just sitting there and leaving people guessing about who’s on the line – little things like that. There’s also tons of things that are specific to Cigna that I could never be taught in a classroom. Each company has its own way of doing things, managing projects, handling documents – it’s impossible to be fully prepared from college. Also – learning how to navigate cube life has been a challenge too. You never have complete privacy and you have to remember to be courteous to those sitting just a few feet from you.

  • Over the past month at my internship, I’ve learned a lot. One of the important things I learned was being able to take detailed notes while sitting in on a conference call. I learned that if you do not have good detailed notes from inquiry that you will have a hard time filling out work programs. Another thing I learned was being able to account for traffic/unexpected events during a commute to a client site. When visiting a client site for the first time, I usually add a half an hour to what Google maps is telling me ahead of time. I hate being late and this definitely helps me get to sites early/on-time. Furthermore, Excel does not underline spelling errors. The spell checker tool has saved me a few times.

  • Company culture is a huge thing that they can’t teach you in class. How to mind yourself around peers and superiors is a skill that cannot really be taught in a classroom. Additionally, I’ve learned resource management — how to work with people and determine how they can be best utilized. Also, learning about how to work in a cube is critical — getting up and taking walks, staying hydrated, and having good relations with the people next to you can really help.

  • Lessons I have learned during my internship that I just couldn’t learn in the classroom or from a textbook are how to adapt to my work environment and fit in with different departments/people I work with. You cannot be taught people skills from a textbook; it is something that comes with experience. My internship has relocated me to different desks throughout the building multiple times this summer. It is extremely important to be comfortable wherever you are; being able to build relationships with other employees has made these transitions easier. But you cannot be taught how to act in an office setting and that is because every office/department is different. I believe it is important to be able to adapt to whatever environment or work your employer will throw at you. This shows versatility and the ability to maintain production in any environment.

  • The process of building effective, healthy relationships, maintaining global and regional business etiquette, and dealing with the volatility of changing deadlines and priorities are skills that I have built during my job that I couldn’t learn from the classroom or textbook. In the classroom, we are not taught how to cold-call strangers, nor are we working with the same groups of student every day in all of our classes (we shouldn’t be taught this). There is a different approach to take to both sets of audiences that is far different than how we build relationships in college. Additionally, understanding proper business etiquette, both globally and regionally, can only be learned when “forced” into the environment. I have learned this skill by watching how other leaders interact with each other and following their actions. Finally, in college, we are given a syllabus in all of our classes with exact dates of when our homework, projects, and tests are due. In my experience at BPM-D, major deadlines are constantly changing and my priorities have to reflect these changes, which is something that isn’t the case in my courses.

  • One of the things that I’ve been learning is prioritizing at work. Sometimes meetings can overlap and it’s important to prioritize which meetings are worth missing others for. For example, I was invited to a meeting with one of the executives in my building and missed it because I had a team meeting scheduled for the same time. However, my manager was quick to point out that I should have prioritized the other meeting over our team’s because it would have been more beneficial to my learning experience here at TD. Since then, I’ve made sure to start prioritizing which meetings I can attend and which I should miss for good reasons.

  • One of the most important lessons that I have learned is how to work with people in a professional team setting. For example, in college, when someone isn’t pulling their weight on a project or things are going astray, we are so quick to go to our professors and let them know what happened and who was at fault. Maybe we would even write them a bad peer review when the teacher asks to evaluate each others’ performance. When you are actually working, this is not the case. You cannot run to your manager for every little problem or hiccup because they are too busy to worry about issues. Rather you must be proactive and address the issues for yourself. After addressing and fixing the issues, then you can go to your manager and let them know there was a problem, but that you overcame it by coming up with a solution for yourselves. At the end of the day you are working on a team towards a single goal, there is no time for blaming.

  • The biggest lesson I’ve learned that can’t be learned in a classroom is how to interact with my superiors in the workplace. During my first project, creating service descriptions for the Maria DB, PostgresSQL and Mongo DB instances that our team provides to the Application Team, I had the privilege of working closely with the heads of our operations team and engineering team. I scheduled meetings with them on numerous occasions to gather requirements for the service descriptions, and gather specific information for various sections I created. I had to learn how to balance the fact that my supervisor wanted the service description project to move along at a fast rate, with the fact that the heads of operations are very busy. This forced me to learn how to phrase meeting requests in ways that acknowledged my superiors’ busy schedules, but also captured the urgency of meeting with them. If I did not get a response back via email, I also learned the ins and outs of following up with meeting requests. I developed an understanding how long to wait before sending another request, and how to phrase the follow up email, without coming off as impatient. These little lessons greatly improved my ability to work closely and effectively with my superiors, and in a timely fashion.

  • My team is doing projects in Agile method. I had a chance to take Product Owner training to learn the Agile process and roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner. We did not learn this in the classroom. For MIS 3535 is more Waterfall approach. I learned how the daily meeting works (tell about what you did yesterday, what are you going to do today and do you have any blockers?). This really helps on the project, because when you have something that is blocked from doing your project, just speak up and the whole team will know what your problem is and they will be able to help you solve it in a very short time. Another skill I learned is how to use Jira to keep track my project. For everything I do, I need to make a comment in Jira and it helps others to see how I am doing in the project. I also log the amount of time I worked on the project every day, so I will be able to predict how much time I will need for a similar project.

  • One of the things I have learned a lot during my internship has to do with multitasking and taking initiative. We are currently working on different campaigns for the listings that we available as well for the homes that will be put on the market this fall. I do not only help out with their projects but I’m also constantly participating on each open house that they have and having to help out with the organization of the event such as taking pictures, notes and just making sure everything goes as planned. There have been a lot of times that I had to get out of my comfort zone to be able to take initative and participate in new tasks which I think has helped me out a lot during the last couple of weeks because I felt like i have become more involve in every project and also have gotten people’s attention with the new ideas I bring to the table.

  • There are a lot of small lessons and characteristics that I’ve learned throughout my internship but there’s one major one that a few other people in this thread have mentioned: what I do, matters. Not necessarily my day-to-day tasks as a digital marketer, more so the fact that if I don’t work hard, no one else will on my behalf. If I want to overcome my anxiousness with talking with clients on the phone, I have to talk to clients on the phone. If I want to learn more about how schema markup on a website can enhance a website’s SEO performance, then I need to do my research. Of course, management does teach me a a good deal, but there’s always certain specific branches of SEO that require some intrinsic motivation. Yes, this is a very intangible thing to point to but it is often at the root of every decision I make throughout the day!

  • One thing we certainly could not learn about in class is office politics. There are several subtle nuances to be considered on the job, ranging from the ordering of email addresses in the CC box, to the tailoring of ones message based on the interests of the current listeners. In technology, some apps are on the way out. If your job puts you on a project that may disrupt your coworkers’ projects, it may be necessary to sugar coat things. Also, there are some coworkers that are sensitive, and others that are not. It is important to read the demeanor of your colleagues to properly choose your words.Some people prefer a direct manor, some find that bearish. I have a lot to learn throughout my career, that is for sure.

  • The real world is very different from school. From the experiences you overcome to the information you are taught, both environments vary greatly. I learned a great deal of lessons during my internship that I just would not be able to learn in the classroom or from any textbook. One thing I learned was how important it is to put yourself out there during any given opportunity. Not only to put yourself out there, but to be able to sell yourself and express confidence. This really helped me make professional connections during the internship and helped me improve my communication skills as I spoke with higher level employees. There are not many classes at Temple that make you practice how to be able to sell yourself or connect with others in person professionally. The other thing I learned during my internship was about how to send formal emails to not only other employees within the business, but also customers. In my business communications class, we discussed certain email formats and tips, but never went to in depth about it. In today’s business world, communication through instant chat and emails is extremely important and it truly benefited me tho learn this skill. I have learned so much through Temple University and the classes they offer, but there is nothing more powerful than learning through real life experiences within the business world and outside of the classroom.

  • I was really looking forward to working in a professional environment at Cross America. I knew that I would be able to expand my knowledge in business by actually being in a workplace/office opposed to a classroom or retail store. I realized that people working in my office were generally laid back and cool people. I think some classes paint the professional world as uptight and always formal, but this does not seem to always be the case. I learned to chat about everyday things with my superiors and co-workers in addition to discussing work. It was nice to actually be contributing to a company. Classes do not have a real world impact like working an internship does, and I liked that what I was doing mattered to the economy.

  • The one thing that you can never learn unless you are in the work environment is that you don’t always get recognized for every effort you make. Unlike in the classroom where you always get a grade as a reward for your hard work, in a professional setting you don’t always get that recognition. Sometimes even mid-project, the whole thing is cancelled or whatever you worked on is not even used and is thrown in the trash. The lesson is to get used to it, know that your work is valuable and keep getting better at your job.

  • Throughout my experience, I have learned that many tasks aren’t as simple with a direct answer. Many tasks required me to reach out to various members in order to retrieve data and get specific perspectives. These tasks are best performed through communication and working with others as a team. Next, we aren’t always given tasks we have done before, sometimes we are given new assignments that require us to learn new skills in order to achieve them. Next, time is another important thing to keep in mind, it is necessary to prioritize tasks depending on what is needed and when. Deadlines get pushed around a lot so you have to be ready to work on different projects at the same time or shifting between projects based on priority. Finally, the biggest difference between the textbook and actual experience is when you complete a project on the job it feels a lot better to accomplish knowing that you made a difference in a process or an actual outcome within a company.

  • Something that I have found during my internship that I had not experienced in the classroom is the need to be proactive. While communication and business etiquette are also great skills to learn to be successful, I feel that these skills can also be honed in class. In class, we have set expectations; we complete several homework assignments, take a few tests, and receive a grade for our work. In the office, especially since I was one of the first interns the company has ever had, the expectations aren’t as clear. To be successful in the business world, you must constantly look seek out work and show initiative. It is easy to sit at your desk and once you have completed an assignment, sign into facebook or surf the web, but to impress your employer, you must show an eagerness to take on new assignments or projects. I was constantly asking what more I could do or what I could learn that would help me complete tasks to come. Towards the end of my internship, I found I had a lot of free time at the end of the day, so I worked with the automation specialist in the office and then went on my own to develop several automation projects using the same application and best practices that are incorporated in the company projects. Especially during an internship, showing your employer that you want to do and learn as much as you can is a great way to impress them.

  • In my internship something I learned is to get questions answered sometimes I had to be persistent. To solve problems it was not as simple as walking into office hours or asking a question during class. I had to understand first who would be able to help me and what I specifically needed from them. In the first few weeks of my internship I would go to meetings and leave realizing no one really gave me what I wanted. So I learned to have specific questions ready and different way to ask these questions. Most employees do not care about interns, but throughout the summer I learned how to make people value my time so I could complete tasks. This persistence is not something I could have learned in the class room.

  • Throughout my internship I have learned a lot of technical skills and soft skills that you cannot just learn in a classroom. Some of the technical skills I have learned are performing test execution audits and setting up databases in MS-Access. Audits would be very hard to teach effectively in class because its really something that you need to deal with real testers and situations for a period of time in order to learn. Creating databases in MS-Access you can learn to an extent in class but it was so much different doing it in the business world where many of your requirements are not ideal and theres no answer in a textbook to your specific problem, its a lot of learning on your own through trial and error. Some of the soft skills I have learned are effective communication, determining priority between multiple projects, and being a team player. For me working on the IT Governance team has provided an interesting team-environment where I work with QA, Change Management and Compliance daily and each group has different skill sets and needs. So determine how to communicate with each individual, who to help first and how to work everyone has been essential.

  • Throughout my internship as a software developer I have learned different coding languages and have learned to research on the web. In school everything is set up and we learn php as our main language. In the beginning of the project I was in, people were debating which language to develop in. Our team decided to code in a new rising coding language. I also became a better developer by learning how to research on the web. I have learned which key word to use when looking for different pre-written code. Also getting the experience in the working environment was something I was not able to pick up at school. Working in an open area with co workers right next to me was not a setting I have worked in.

  • The main skills I developed over my internship that weren’t learned in the classroom dealt with professional communication, and more specifically email etiquette. At Pfizer, the majority of people I interacted with were at least twice as old as me, so there was certainly a learning curve on how to effectively communicate with them in a professional manner. When I first started there, I would spend a lot of time editing and revising my emails in order to come off professionally and while it seemed tedious at first, it truly paid off. My sponsor and other colleagues took note of my email skills, and would frequently come to me to distribute large emails to members of the organization. While this may seem like a small thing, it was rewarding that higher-ups on my team noticed the effort I put in and this ultimately helped me get my name out there at Pfizer.

  • One of the many things I learned at my internship over the summer that I could not learn in the classroom is the importance of asking questions. During meetings with stakeholders or project sponsors I learned it was vital to ask questions to really dig down to the core of the problem or issue at hand. I also learned the importance of building relationships with those you work with. This is important so whenever you come to a roadblock or need help you can reach out to those you’ve built these relationships with, and they can help you with any issues. These two key learnings were vital throughout my internship at BD.

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