Julie has been our Culture and Communications intern for the summer. Before she heads back to school we asked her to capture her thoughts on what potential interns should know before considering Substantial for an internship of their own.

I’d love to shout from the roof deck about how my summer internship at Substantial was above and beyond my expectations, but this post is not meant to be an advertisement to intern here (mostly). Rather, it’s to inform other potential interns about what the experience is like and how to get your foot in the door (hint, it’s not quite as easy as just answering an ad on Craigslist).

Interning for Substantial isn’t for everyone. The same could be said for any company. As with other employees, Substantial hires interns on the basis that they are a good fit for the company and that the company is in return a good fit for them.

I’ve had a wonderful time this summer. I’m sure you will during your time here as well. Here’s how.

You Could Be a Great Intern with Substantial If…

You are highly self motivated and take initiative; you don’t always need to be told what to do.
The “Culture and Communications Intern” position I’ve had this summer didn’t actually exist until I was hired after reaching out asking if internships were a possibility, making a bit of initiative what got me here in the first place. Since I’ve been here, there hasn’t been a single project I’ve worked on that was dictated by a checklist or precise instruction. While I preferred it that way, it’s not for everyone. It required being in touch with my gut instinct, being observant of the work being done by co-workers, and not being afraid to check in often if I was unsure about something.

You aren’t afraid to ask questions.
Substantial, along with most other companies, would rather have an intern who asks a million questions a day than an intern who waveringly tip-toes through their term. It’s almost ridiculously easy to set up a meeting with someone in the office to address any sort of comment, concern, or question. Want to job-shadow someone? Want to work on a specific project? Want more chocolate based snacks in the kitchen? Just ask. Everything isn’t a guaranteed “yes” but few things will be a flat, non-negotiable “no”.

You work well with others.
As a Communications and Marketing student in college, I’ve had my fair share of “group projects”- it’s become a very familiar and sometimes dreaded concept. With Substantial, teamwork has become something I value more than ever before. It’s been enlightening being part of a team of highly skilled multi-disciplinary co-workers, where everyone is constantly learning from each other and being inspired by each other, consequently building great things together.

You want to learn.
You won’t find anyone working here who claims to know everything. Learning is constantly happening whether it’s from books, speakers, or co-workers and an open mind and eager brain is necessary for being successful here. Keeping my ears open around the designers and developers has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship as I’m leaving with a significantly enriched knowledge base about how “the real world” operates.

You don’t come in expecting a typical “internship program”.
When I was applying to internships prior to Substantial, I ran into a lot of programs looking for a very specific team of interns with specific competencies that would be working on very specific projects. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s just not necessarily what happens at Substantial. I was hired on the basis of my individual qualities and interests, and I never felt ilke one of the “office interns”. I was treated like an employee and was given equal opportunity, involvement, and respect and I’ve preferred it this way.
You are passionate about something.
In addition to writing and marketing, I get a lot of joy from running, hanging out with friends, and watching lots of Netflix. I have to admit that I was worried about needing to sacrifice some of these things to intern full time at Substantial. What I came to realize is that not only could I continue to do all of these things, but they became a large part of daily bonding with co-workers.  The fact that I was passionate about the work I got to do throughout the day at Substantial certainly didn’t hurt either.

You can balance a laid back office attitude with a quick-paced and focused approach to work.
The first time I came into the office, I was greeted with a direction to sign in at the photo booth, a giant friendly Bernese Mountain Dog, and music playing in the background. I looked around to see people collaborating, focusing on their individual work, and generally being enthusiastic about what they were doing. This is when I knew I’d made the right choice to intern here. The work-fun balance happens quite naturally and the office is a truly happy place to be. It’s a great crew of people around here and you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself enjoying a beer with your co-workers after hours (or before that, depending on the occasion).

Have fun back at school, Julie and Rebecca! Thanks for being our class of summer interns for 2013!