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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

School isn’t the only time for learning, summer can be too!

This past summer, I was a Corporate Treasury Intern at Silicon Valley Bank. I knew nothing about banking or what my job really entailed when I first began this internship and I felt like a fish out of water. However, as the summer progressed, I slowly began to feel more comfortable in my position and in my abilities. Here are a few things I learned along the way. 

First and most importantly, ask questions! I know this is the piece of advice that you will hear repeatedly, but it’s true. Asking questions, especially in a new role, is vital to your success. During the first week of my internship and with my first assignment, I was so nervous and afraid to ask questions. I felt like I should show that I knew exactly what I was doing and be the perfect intern from the beginning. Yet, this is just not realistic. My first assignment was to categorize existing financial forecasting decks into a condensed catalog. I did not understand what a lot of the terms I was looking at meant and I did not fully grasp the importance of some of the materials. In hindsight, this is completely normal. I was in a new situation dealing with new terminology and data that I had never been exposed to previously. Yet, despite understanding that my confusion was normal, I was so nervous to ask my manager questions about the assignment or the materials. Eventually, as the summer went on and I became more familiar with my manager, this anxiety about asking questions went away. I realized that it is much easier and time efficient to ask questions initially than to assume something and have to redo your work because you did not fully understand what you were supposed to be doing. Thus, if you are going into a new job or class, I urge you to ask questions even if it puts you out of your comfort zone. It will be much more beneficial for you in the long run to ask questions in the beginning than to wait until it is too late to fix it. 

Secondly, a lot of the work you will be doing is work that the managers or other higher-ups do not have time to do. Obviously, this is not true in every case, as some of the work I did over the summer was designed specifically for the interns to work on. However, during the beginning of my internship when I was slowly getting used to the company and the type of work I would be doing, I was tasked with smaller assignments that my manager did not have time to do himself. This work included updating the capital slides to the correct colors and fonts as set by the marketing team and cataloging the financial forecasting deck. I really appreciated this kind of work because the expectations for what I was meant to do were quite clear and these projects allowed me to slowly work my way up to bigger things. It was not exactly what I expected to be doing when I first started my internship, but this type of work ended up being helpful as I wasn’t too overwhelmed at the very beginning, and it allowed me to get to know my manager more by working closely with him. 

Thirdly, find time to make connections with your coworkers. Since my internship was completely remote, I never met any of my coworkers in person. Due to this, a lot of the advice I heard was to schedule short meetings with my coworkers to just chat and get to know them. However, this advice stressed me out, especially since I was already so new to banking, I did not think I would have much to talk to my coworkers about in a one-on-one meeting. Thus, I found other ways to get to know my coworkers and optimize my time. Instead of scheduling one-on-one meetings, I would instead just chat with my coworkers before existing meetings. Oftentimes I would sign onto a meeting a few minutes early and some of my coworkers would as well. So, I began to use this time to chat with my coworkers, get to know them and see if they had any work I could help them with. I found that with my internship there were alternative methods to create connections and gain experience while also thinking about my own comfort levels and experiences. 

Lastly, remember that you were hired for a reason. I found that when I first began my internship, I felt so out of my element and that I thought I wasn’t qualified for my position. I did not know anything about banking or corporate treasury, which led me to doubt myself. This is a common feeling to have, especially at the beginning of a new job, but I found it critical to remind myself that I was hired for a reason. I was not just thrown into this position on a whim, but rather I interviewed and showed my qualifications for this position. The managers saw that I was the right fit for this internship and hired me. Now obviously they knew that I did not know everything about banking and that I would also not learn everything about banking after one summer. Yet, they knew enough about me through my experiences and conversations that I could do this job and learn throughout the summer. Thus, I urge you not to doubt yourself because you are out of your element. When starting a new job, remember that you were hired and chosen for a reason and you deserve to have your position. 

Beginning a summer internship for the first time can feel a bit daunting, especially when you join a field that contains so much intricate information. However, I am glad to have had this experience and job because I am now more suited for future internships and careers. I learned so much through this experience, but my most important takeaway was to ask questions. Getting over my nervousness to ask for help or clarification allowed me to focus on other aspects of my internship and to step out of my comfort zone in different ways. Just know that your managers and coworkers are there to help you. They understand that you are brand new to the company and do not know everything and will be there to help you along the way. Don’t let your doubts or nerves hold you back from succeeding in a new position. 

Brooke Wiley

Wisconsin '24

Brooke is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.