This summer, I had the great opportunity to work as an intern for a private equity real estate firm in Kansas City that is run by two Rockhurst grads. Understandably, this sounds like prison for many high school students. But because I have always been interested in business and finance, it was an incredible experience from which I learned many valuable lessons. While I did learn things like how to calculate the net profit of a company and how to read a 10Q, some of the most important lessons I learned came from the experience of working a job in the “real world.”
No more Sperrys
The first lesson I learned was not in finance, surprisingly, but in fashion. Prior to the internship, I was told that I should dress in business casual, which generally means a collared shirt (usually button down), khakis and dressier shoes. I thought I would ace this first test, no problem, having worn this same garb every day at school. While at Rockhurst Sperrys are practically encouraged and worn by most students, in a professional environment they are a little too casual. Although generally dress code in business is moving towards informality, in a professional environment you should save the Sperrys for the yacht and get some loafers or dress shoes if you want people to take you more seriously.
While in school, students prepare for a test or essay to receive a better grade in the class. In a work environment, the stakes are much higher. If you have a presentation or a project, it is essential that you are comprehensive with your work and that it goes off without hitch. At school, subpar work results in disappointment from the teacher. At a job, the CEO or other executive employee will just ask why you are wasting his or her time with information that isn’t relevant. The preparation element could very well make or break your career.
Finding your perfect environment
In order to find a job, you should first understand yourself, your habits and your preferences, because they will play a huge role in your workplace happiness. I am an extremely social person, so I found that I need an environment where I can constantly converse with other people and work with them. For me, a cubicle would be a special type of torture, but for others it may be the perfect work environment.
Do what you love
Working a 9-5 job can be very difficult and exhausting. Most of all, it can be extremely, extremely boring if you aren’t doing work that you find fulfilling and stimulating. Luckily for me, finance and business is what I love, so I found the work very interesting. The most important lesson I learned was that you should only do work that you are passionate about.