Jenna Solis: Love Where You Work
It has been an incredible time back on campus these past few weeks. Between meeting up with old peers, attending new classes, and studying for midterms, I can’t help but reflect every so often on my outstanding summer. I had the opportunity to intern at Palo Alto Networks, a Cybersecurity company located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Within my role as a Content Marketing intern, I was able to work closely with many different departments, network with experienced professionals, and most importantly discover what it means to love where you work.
During the recruiting season, I was under the impression that the only purpose behind interviews was to prove your worthiness to the employer. They ask you questions and you answer them to your best ability to earn a spot at the company. The thought never crossed my mind to ask myself whether I feel I would enjoy myself at that company. When I received my offer from Palo Alto Networks, I knew little about the culture, mission, or my manager. Soon I would realize that those three characteristics would be some of the most important aspects of my summer.
One memorable part of my first internship was the incredible relationship I established with my manager. The level of respect that we had for each other was unlike anything I ever experienced. She was always a message away and would offer support whenever I expressed doubt. Most importantly, she believed in me to take on big projects that would truly impact my team. She understood that I had a passion for metrics, and created projects specifically around this interest. Our meetings included casual conversations about our weekends and families, helping me realize that she wanted to get to know who I was further than just an intern. My experience at Palo Alto Networks would not have been complete without an incredible manager like mine. I didn’t realize it while interviewing, but your manager is a huge part of your experience at a company. They are the one you talk to daily and support you through your work. As you try to prove yourself during interviews, always remember that you should also be evaluating whether you could see yourself working for that employer as well. Funny enough, that is a piece of advice she shared with me during one of our meetings!
As I began my internship, I was extremely nervous about the culture while in the workplace. While each individual prefers different things, I knew I didn’t want to work somewhere where people kept to themself. During my first day at the office, there was an on-campus Pride event with refreshments, dessert bar, and activities! After finishing my rainbow cupcake and playing 3 rounds of bingo, I knew I had chosen a company that wanted to provide their employees with an enjoyable experience while at work. Many don’t consider this factor when choosing a job. The culture at the workplace needs to feel inviting, rather than hostile. Employees are in it together, so it is important that they treat each other with kindness. This is exactly what I felt anytime I stepped into the headquarters.
Each business has a mission. That is why all of their employees work so hard each day. When choosing a company to work for, genuinely consider whether your values align with their goals. If you do not feel passionate about what the company is working towards, you will not be as productive in your work. Interning at a cybersecurity company, I felt extremely driven to complete my tasks because I knew I was working towards their mission of making each day safer than the day before. It doesn’t have to be a life changing mission for it to matter, but ultimately your company should be leading an initiative that matters to you. This is where you will thrive.