A few weeks after my high school graduation, I found myself entering the 9 to 5 business world. To be completely honest, it was a bit of a shock to the body. That was partly because I was wearing business professional clothes instead of t-shirts and shorts in the summer, but also because I was immersed in such a new environment.
Not only was this position my first internship, but my first real job as well. Fortunately, I began working with a staff who welcomed me with open arms, making the acclimation much easier. While friends my age were out working on golf courses or in restaurants, I was getting a taste of the real professional world. To put it simply, I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity. Because of this, there are many key takeaways I have acquired, but I will spare everyone and abbreviate it into a ‘Top Ten’ list… not in any particular order.
1. Exposure Sometimes Outweighs Participation
Many people claim that a ‘hands-on’ experience is the best way to learn the ropes of a new skill or criteria. However, being able to sit and observe was just as informative. Each week, I would sit in on a minimum of two meetings, all on various topics: weekly Huddle meetings, editorial meetings, Techstars meetings, grant meetings, etc. This allowed me to experience what a meeting was like without the pressure of being expected to participate.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
Before I began working at HSC Next, I was familiar with using Adobe programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and InDesign. However, I had never used Premiere Pro. When I mentioned that I would be interested in creating teaser videos for upcoming podcasts, it allowed me to dive head first into the program and learn how to use it. It became a new skill I acquired and was one of my favorite tasks of the summer.
3. Communication is Key
This may sound obvious, but it wasn’t until I got to high school and started applying to colleges that I started truly utilizing an email. Texting and social media was my generation’s natural form of communication. To be fully transparent, it was a slight adjustment to start using my email as my main form of virtual communication but allowed me to learn how to write professional emails. I’m grateful to have learned this skill before I began college, rather than after.
4. LinkedIn is Your Best Friend
One of my tasks during my internship was to create a contact list of various entrepreneurs and investors that had associations with HSC, Sparkyard specifically, or Global Entrepreneurship Week. While I was given a list of emails, I would use LinkedIn to find their full name, social media accounts, and company titles and addresses. But while using this platform, I also discovered how useful it is in a professional setting. Because of this, I felt prompted to create a profile for myself which has led to various connections not only within UNT but in the Fort Worth area as a whole.
5. It’s Never Too Early to Start Making Connections
During one of my workdays, I was asked to sit in on an interview led by a new reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. There, I was able to observe two types of businesses come together and learn from one another. At the end of the meeting, the reporter, a recently graduated college student from SMU, reached out to me and gave me her contact info. She was kind enough to offer it up to me if I ever had any questions or concerns about the transition into college and working in the business world. While that is just one example of many people who have offered up their time and expertise to me, all of these encounters have shown me just how important it is to build relationships and create connections not only in your work community but across cities, states, and countries.
6. Leadership Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
Even from an internship standpoint, it doesn’t take long to notice how important different forms of leadership are in a workplace. Witnessing interactions between my supervisors and team allowed me to adopt their principles and apply them to my interactions and tasks. For instance, even though I was an intern, they let me be creative in each project I worked on, and sometimes even granted me complete creative freedom. Furthermore, each project I worked on was brainstormed by my supervisors, in which they also took my skills and interests into account — a true embodiment of leadership. The responsibility I had was to create a product that was quality while simultaneously learning the ropes of leading my projects and sharing them with my team.
7. Sometimes the More Mundane Projects are the Most Important
Though I have come to quickly discover that I am working in my dream field, not every single project you work on is going to be thrilling. When I first started my entrepreneur/investor contact list, there were over 700 people I had to find contact information for. However, once it was completed, it proved to be one of the most resourceful and beneficial things I produced this summer. While I may prefer to clock in and spend my hours editing videos and writing blog posts, some of the most rewarding aspects stem from completing task you don’t expect. That being said, I’ve learned to never underestimate any piece of work that comes my way.
8. Mild Squirreling is Healthy – In Moderation, Of Course
HSC Next is a very collaborative team. That being said, building relationships with your team arguably requires a light amount of rabbit trails. Taking a few minutes to communicate with each other about personal interests not only builds a stronger work environment but can also spark ideas about the meeting’s contents. I’m grateful for all of the lighthearted conversations that have taken place this summer and for bringing a smile to my face in between the long work days.
9. Cowtown Cares
As mentioned previously, crafting Innovate Fort Worth teaser videos was a task I thoroughly enjoyed. While I only had the opportunity to sit in on one of the interviews, being able to go in and edit the videos before they were released was special to me. Within each thirty-minute episode that I’ve gotten the privilege of editing, each entrepreneur speaks with such appreciation and intention for their business and Fort Worth as a whole. Even though HSC Next works more behind the scenes in the Fort Worth entrepreneurial ecosystem, listening to each local innovator reveal how invested they are in this city has shown me firsthand that Fort Worth is not only revitalizing itself but growing together as a team.
10. Fort Worth is Home to the Coolest Entrepreneurs
This point is biased, but how could it not be? After spending the past ten weeks analyzing the mechanisms of Fort Worth as an entrepreneurial ecosystem, I had the pleasure of meeting and learning about the most innovative startup businesses here in town. As a local, it makes me even more appreciative of my town to know how much behind-the-scenes work these entrepreneurs and/or investors put into businesses to build and grow our community. Fort Worth is working to further build its ecosystem, and the efforts being put in place by HSC Next and so many more organizations and companies are something that should be much more recognized and advertised. If everyone knew about all of the amazing things happening in Fort Worth, I’m certain they would be extremely jealous of the things I’ve gotten to learn and experience this summer.
About the Author
Faith Emmitte is a student intern for the Next department at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. Faith will be a first-year student at Texas A&M University, pursuing a BA in Business Administration. Gig ‘Em Ags! All thoughts and opinions are her own and in no way reflect the thoughts and opinions of the HSC.