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An Intern's Experience - Joe Prestamer

As my time at LaSalle this summer wraps up, it is time to think about the growth I have achieved personally and professionally.  It feels like just yesterday I was so excited to hear back that LaSalle wanted to speak with me regarding my application. This internship was an experience I will forever be grateful for, and I now realize how pointless it was to be scared coming into it.

Of course, having just finished my sophomore year of college at Illinois Wesleyan, there was going to be some nerves entering a professional environment, but how quickly the nerves dissipated was amazing. I came into a workplace that was accepting, encouraging, warm-hearted, and fun. LaSalle has changed me for the better. Here are the main takeaways I can provide from my experience.

This internship program was huge for my professional growth, especially having just finished my sophomore year of college. A few main points of growth and development come to mind. The first, I was not very comfortable or sure of how to handle a business call or just talk on the phone to someone other than my best friend. Through the calls I made during my internship, my comfort level improved drastically.

Another skill that was developed during my time was my ability with a computer and keyboard. Given my generation and upbringing, I was already decently tech-savvy as most kids are these days, but learning different functions within Excel, being able to navigate different programs at the same time, utilizing two screens, and learning how to input data into our company’s main platforms, were just some of the ways that I increased my technological abilities.

Another cool aspect of this internship was that I was actually doing real work that made me feel like I was not just some pointless, generic, coffee-fetching intern. I felt that I made a meaningful contribution in a couple of different ways. The first being the accounts payable calls I made to clients and following up with them to ensure it was a smooth process. Another contribution I made was doing the more time-consuming tedious tasks that got in the way of more important things that the rest of the team could be doing. By doing the little things like entering placements, auditing expense reports, data entry, etc. this cleared up time for everyone else to tackle what really mattered and improve the overall efficiency of our team.

Another aspect of this program that was more than a pleasant surprise was just how nice of an environment the office is. Everyone on my team and anyone I have spoken with from the other teams has come off as an extremely nice person, and there are definitely some qualities for me to pick up on that would be important in a workplace. Everyone around me seems well-liked by their co-workers. This seems to be very important as it leads to less stress, more favors, and an easier workday down the line. Another quality is just how laid back they all are. If something in the workplace goes wrong or a mistake is made, they do not let it ruin their day, and they just carry on being the joking, friendly people they are. That is definitely a quality I want to develop more because I too often find myself getting upset at things that do not really warrant it.

Every day, I see the commitment and drive needed to be a strong employee, and I also see there is still time for fun both inside and out of the workplace. I am no longer worried about losing the opportunity to have fun after college ends after seeing how everyone interacts on a daily basis. It seemed like everyone at LaSalle was a conglomerate of friends moving towards a goal of making LaSalle the greatest company it can be. There was no shortage of joking, stories, and making plans for after work, but everyone still worked extremely hard. It was nice to see that work environments like this exist where people work and play hard, and all of this honestly made me a much less worried college student when it comes to life after school.

The last lesson I have learned through this experience was just how adaptive the workplace can be regardless of what background someone has. I have heard several stories about people graduating with completely random majors or having completely different backgrounds, but still ending up being a recruiter or other role at LaSalle. I also heard stories about people being moved to a different team regardless of prior experience. What this taught me is that it does not matter what your background is, if the company thinks you are a good fit for their particular culture, they will take you on, find a spot for you, and have the patience for you to learn the role. So, while I am still shooting for that finance job in banking, it is nice to know that there is a spot for everyone somewhere, even if that spot might come from a different field than what you planned on.

The combination of these lessons made my summer experience at LaSalle Network one for the books. I want to thank everyone on my team for being such welcoming, patient, and entertaining people that made it much easier to wake up and make the train ride downtown every morning. I will take all the valuable skills and lessons I have learned in what seemed like an insanely short couple of months and continue to apply them to all aspects in life.