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Getting Career Ready: What I Learned From My Summer Internship

Written by Braelyn Rumble

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Before I started my internship at Tangerine, I had no previous exposure to the corporate world and no idea what it really meant to be an "intern." My preconceived notions of a corporate internship were based on movies like Nine to Five and the Devil Wears Prada.

Now at the end of my internship, I can gladly say that my experience was completely different, and for the better.

Going into my fourth year of Political Studies at school, I was eager to apply the critical thinking skills I've learned to a job outside my field. As other Arts students might be able to relate to, I've often been asked: "What kind of job can you get after graduation?" My time at Tangerine this summer has shed light onto what I want in a job after graduation.

I was also part of a team of interns that participated in (and won!) the Scotiabank Case Competition. That experience taught me a lot about what type of leadership is valued in the workplace. Along with the personal growth that comes from diving into a new environment, becoming adjusted to life with a corporate job, especially at a bank, brought me a great deal of financial lessons that I'll take with me into the future. Here's what I learned:

1. A Job Comes With Added Costs

Before this summer, I hadn't accounted for the daily costs of a corporate job, like clothes, commuting and lunch. I quickly learned that buying new clothing, using a toll route and buying a lunch was a great way to burn a hole in my wallet. I lowered my costs by investing in a couple versatile clothing pieces appropriate for the workplace, carpooling when possible, and preparing the next day's lunch in advance. Driving to work in Toronto traffic each day taught me that in the future, I want to live somewhere with a shorter commute that's also in close proximity to places I can socialize with friends after work.

2. Don't Say Yes to Every Social Gathering

The cost of work-life balance was another lesson learned. While I sought out a summer internship for the experience, I was pleasantly surprised by the sense of community among my coworkers. However, on a student budget, it can seem daunting to go out frequently for a sit-down meal with peers. When possible, I use a cash-back credit card to pay for lunches. This makes me feel better about my spending, since I get some money back. When deciding on a place to get coffee, I usually opt for a place with a loyalty program where I can eventually reap some type of benefits for frequent caffeine consumption.

3. Prepare for Future Spending

Lastly, my internship at Tangerine really drove home the need to prepare for future financial decisions (paying off student debt, moving out, paying for insurance). While the rush of income at the beginning of my summer job almost got the better of me, it was important to remind myself of outstanding costs that I'll eventually need to pay for. Setting aside money from my bi-weekly paycheque to save for future costs is now something I have ingrained as a financial habit. This "rainy day" fund will come in handy in seasons of unemployment, such as job-hunting season after graduation, especially when I'll no longer be covered under my school's insurance plan.

Most importantly this summer, I learned that for me, passion is a driver of success. While dedication and habit are critical to being financially savvy, this summer taught me that passion for what you do is critical to long-term success, both in my career and personal life.

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