As I drove down the highway to start my first day at Schneider Electric, thoughts were racing through my head as I headed towards the office praying the accident on my way wouldn’t make me late. Starting my first internship in a corporate setting was a big deal for me. Would I spend the rest of my summer picking up Grande Caramel Frappuccino’s for my co-workers? Stapling and filing stacks of papers? Wiping down countertops? I wondered if I would be embraced by the team. Thankfully, my worries have not come to fruition. These are three things I learned about being an intern at Schneider Electric in my first three weeks.
Interns are not glorified coffee fetchers
In fact, on my first day the person on-boarding me asked what I wanted from Starbucks! I responded with a smirk, “Isn’t that my job?” “No, definitely not,” she laughed. Every intern has a fear that they’ll be doing monotonous, meaningless tasks all day that they can’t apply their knowledge to and end up gaining no useful experience from the internship. I found the opposite to be true. My manager made it clear from the get-go that she would never give me busy work and that I would have creative freedom on all the projects.
So far, I have compiled an intern toolkit that will be distributed to the entire intern program, organized and helped run a workshop for the team I’m a part of, and determined a start date schedule for new employees in 2023. I’ve applied my knowledge to these projects and was trusted with freedom and flexibility on all of them. One thing I remember my manager saying to me before starting one project is, “We’ve done it like this for a while and found it works pretty well but if you think there’s a way to improve it or add value, go for it. That goes for any project”. It meant a lot knowing my manager values my input.
The leaders care about you
I started to realize this before I ever stepped foot in the office. My dad surprised our family with tickets to Hawaii, but the vacation was scheduled for the same week I was supposed to on-board at Schneider. Overwhelmed, I said, “Dad, I can’t go.” I did not want to make a bad first impression. Convinced by my family, I emailed my manager explaining the situation, she replied with something like, “You’re going to Hawaii. We can push back your start date and have you come in to the office once before your trip to get acclimated.” When I eventually came in for my first week, my boss had set up co-workers to take me out to lunch every single day I was in the office. This continued into the next week. It was a warm welcome.
Schneider’s work culture is amazing
Work culture is such an important aspect of a company that I feel often is overlooked by people searching for internships. In our very first North America intern meeting, the CMO of Schneider told us, “If you don’t speak in a meeting, then you probably shouldn’t be in it.” This was not said with the intent of making interns feel useless in meetings. It was meant to encourage us to speak and contribute. She elevated our confidence by telling the interns, “If you’re in a meeting, it means you have something you can contribute so don’t be afraid to speak up!”
One of my favorite aspects of Schneider’s work culture is flexible schedules. Right now, I’m coming in the office 2-3 days a week (I make sure to rub it in with my friends who take a train at 6:30am five days a week). There is no reason to be in the office on some days, and the company doesn’t force me to be on-site when it’s not beneficial. The managers are more focused on what’s practical and efficient, which is appreciated by all.
Finally, Schneider promotes a culture where employees are encouraged to offer up ways they believe they can add value to the company even if it’s not in their job description. We call this, “Thinking like an Owner.” Writing this blog is proof of the concept in action. In a meeting with my manager, I asked what she thought about me writing a blog about my first experiences with the company. Even though it wasn’t what I was hired for she said yes and immediately put me in contact with the right people to get the blog started.
Learn more about career opportunities with Schneider Electric.
My Future at Schneider
As I conclude my summer internship with Schneider, I’m excited to share that I will be continuing to work part-time in the upcoming fall as a Human Resources intern. If you’re interested in a career with Schneider, check out our website and be sure to sign up to join our talent community.
Want to learn more about internships at Schneider? Read more stories from our #SEGreatPeople Interns in their blogs!
About the Author
Michael Pompei is a Human Resources Intern at Schneider Electric. He is heading into his Senior year at Vanderbilt University and studying Human Organizational Development. In his free time he enjoys working out, lake house trips, and country concerts.
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