My idea of the professional world turned out to be very different than I thought. I was expecting a “close doors, don’t talk to me, and if you need me send me an email” environment. I thought I was going to be on my own and everything was going to be up to me. But Phillips 66 is not set-up like that.
It’s a collaborative and open environment where you’re encouraged to talk to your teammates and supervisors. You are even encouraged to talk with the executives and mid-and-upper management, who also share in the open workspace. Phillips 66 is all about collaboration and teamwork.
On the first day, the Chief Information Officer came and spoke to our internship class. It amazed me that she took time out of her busy day to come and talk to interns. That was impression number one. Impression number two was the fact that I had real work assigned to me. I wasn’t there to be a grunt or go on coffee runs. I had real responsibilities and the opportunity to bring new ideas to the team.
The openness to go and talk to the higher ups, the accessibility of people, and the collaborative culture was not something I was expecting or prepared for. I was expecting the professional world to be a very much “on my own” type of place, but that was and still isn’t my experience with Phillips 66.
Preparing for the Workforce
Never Stop Learning
Part of becoming a professional is being okay with not knowing everything. School gives you a foundation to go on before entering the workforce but after that it’s up to you to keep an open mind and never stop learning. This is especially true when it comes to business methods and technology. The professional world is constantly evolving and moving forward which requires you to be open to new changes as they come and learn to adjust as needed. You never know what is going to shift, what new technology will come out, or what type of changes will happen. You can’t afford to have a closed mind when you step into the professional world. It will stall progression in your career, your team, and your life.
Working in Teams
In the business world, you’re going to be working with a lot of different types of people. You will encounter different knowledge levels, different skills sets, and conflicting personalities. This is something you need to be aware of and prepared for. The University of Tulsa builds a great foundation for this as most school projects require you to work in teams. Take advantage of the opportunity to develop those skills and learn early on how to navigate working with different kinds of people. It is a skill that plays a huge role in the workforce.
Both verbal and written communication is essential upon entering the workforce. Learning to clearly communicate with your team and your supervisors is absolutely crucial. Because of the requirement of having to write papers and long answer essays on tests and exams in school, I feel that TU enhanced my communication skills and prepared me to better communicate in the business world.
Advice for Students Looking for an Internship
The advice I would give to students looking for an internship is start early. As a freshman, go talk to people and inquire about different opportunities. As a sophomore, keep knocking on those doors, seeking out opportunities, and don’t get discouraged. You never know what’s going to happen or what door will open in your favor.
The second piece of advice I would give is pay attention. There’s no reason for students, especially freshman, to not know what opportunities are available. At Phillips 66, we’re always talking to classrooms and making sure that students know what we have available. The professors at The University of Tulsa are amazing at letting students know about upcoming career fairs and encouraging them to talk to different companies. Take advantage of what TU is providing for you as a student.
The final piece of advice I would give is be prepared. When it comes time to prep for the career fair, be aware of the way you present yourself. Don’t be timid, make eye contact, shake people’s hands, and do your best to carry on a conversation. We’re all nervous, even recruiters talking to students. Do some roleplay beforehand to get comfortable talking with company recruiters. Career services is great for that and other ways of preparing students for job fairs and interviews. Brush up on small talk skills, utilized Google, and learn about the companies and the internship before you go talk to them. Preparation is the key to holding a productive conversation and finding the right opportunities for you.