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When my internship coach first told me that there is an event in Brussels for P&G IT interns from Europe, first thing I thought was “what kind of a company would send their intern to an event in abroad?” I will be telling you the long story but before even starting, I think P&G deserves a big thank you for giving such an opportunity of meeting great people, learning very exciting new material and making me feel very valued. A lot of big companies organize various events to attract talents, at the end these are usually win-win situations. But for this one, I could say interns won much more, without any doubt.
By the way, second thing I thought was “OMG, can I stay over the weekend?” but that is gonna make another blog post.
Lets start with a bit of “background”. I am doing an internship in P&G İstanbul office in information technology (IT) department. I had no idea about how IT in P&G works in that much of a global level, as I also do in my project. Therefore, P&G wants IT interns to come together, know each other and learn more about the scope of the business globally. So all the IT interns from Europe were invited to Brussels between August 10th-12th. During the event we were also supposed to give a presentation on our project and attend a hackathon challenge. I was quite excited when I first heard about it, more excited once I got the invitation and extremely excited once they booked my tickets. Inviting interns to an event in abroad ? I felt very grateful and indeed responsible for having a very good presentation after all that effort.
Organization team assisted me in every step, starting with lovely welcome packs they left in the airport, it was quite easy to follow their instructions to the hotel. We stayed in Aloft-Brussels Schuman Hotel for 2 nights. No need to tell how comfortable the room was, it is usually expected in that kind of events any way. But I have to say that Aloft-Brussels Schuman was a perfect pick in terms of the spirit of the event. The hotel was designed in a very modern and creative way. I could say it was an intersection of the energy and the soul of a youth hostel and the quality and the comfort of an elegant business hotel. Special thanks to their super friendly staff !
As soon as I arrived the hotel, I started meeting people around the check-in kiosk. Although the hotel room was super cozy and the bed was quite tempting, I managed refreshing myself and went down to lunch to meet more people. New Castle, Moscow, Warsaw, Rome, Paris… As I expected, everyone I met was super friendly, talkative and full of stories. First day was reserved for us to discover the city until the evening so with a group of almost 10 people, we went down to the city to do most touristy stuff in spite of the gloomy weather and the light rain. It was so much fun to go around randomly with new people, but that is again gonna make another blog post 😀
After going back to the hotel, we had a short welcome speech. I had tried to ask to previous interns about the event while I was still in İstanbul, just to learn what to expect. During the welcome event, a former intern –now new hire gave a presentation about her experience as an intern and an employee in the company, how P&G wants us to see the scope of the business and decide if we think it is the right fit for us. At that moment I have to admit that I felt a bit stressed as if I had to chase people, observe everything, ask the right questions to decide taking whether the red pill or the blue pill at the end of the day which I was completely unprepared for. But during the two days, I realized that it was a natural discovery as I work with other interns on the same problem or exchange stories on a sincere dinner table. At the end, I am going back home with a more curious mind set.
One of the main purposes of the event as we were also quite motivated before going to Brussels was the hackathon. P&G nowadays focuses a lot on millennial’s approach in almost everything and wants more input from their side in the business. Therefore, the organization team collected real life cases within P&G, the problems that a site across the Europe currently facing and asked for a “millennial approach” by using advantage of different backgrounds. With a team of 5 from Warsaw, Paris, New Castle and İstanbul office; our task was coming up with a platform idea to support sustainability and engage with P&G employee by changing their habits and starting a movement. I loved how the topic touches on a global issue and has a behavior psychology background; and the other day while we worked on the case, I experienced how people with different skills approach the topic in their own unique way. But for the first night, we paused to get rid of the exhaustion of flights and enjoyed our delicious Lebanese dinner in L’Oriento.
First full day of the event was the presentation day. All of the interns had a presentation slot for an audience of 7-8 IT directors in various levels from different countries. Many of the interns were quite excited about the presentation since it actually is a part of our assessment during internship. Since I had already passed that sort of an important presentation before, I felt it more like a duty to present something valuable after all of these super-busy people paused their schedule to come and see what we have been doing. Luckily, presentations were in groups of 4 interns so I also had a chance to see other internship projects and find answers to some of the questions in my mind like how much of the IT job P&G outsources or what else exactly is in the scope of IT teams’ responsibility. When I took the stage, I quite enjoyed telling people the work I did, even exceeding my time slot slightly a bit. I could even say the presentation itself helped me a lot to see what is next, where I have most of the challenge left where I am right now
compared to where I expect to be. During the rest of the day we worked on the hackathon project, deserving a very nice dinner experience in Kokuban Japanese Restaurant. Most importantly, I could really say that when we sat on the dinner table, it was not any different than sitting with our families, with our best friends. Besides, the people who had been in the presentation audience were also one of the friends on that table, telling us not only about their experience but also about their stories, wrecking the wall that could have standed between the levels we work at. From day one, all of my intern friends and I were always respecting how internship projects we have are serious and needs a lot of responsibility. I can say with all my heart that second most unforgettable thing will be that friendly communication between people from any culture, age and life time experience.
On our last day, each group including mine presented their hackathon case study solution. All of them were judged by a jury of P&G employee, similar to the audience during internship presentations, as if we were groups of entrepreneurs trying to get funded for our brand new idea. I have to admit that I was even more excited to listen to other groups’ presentations because it was more of a general look at what people in my age have in their skill set and what would make me feel excited to work for. I saw there are many interns that have much more of an IT background than I do which made me feel a bit anxious about even before starting my internship. Thinking about how cool the stuff people think or implement for their solutions, I now feel more confident about my passion to be involved in technology solutions and improve myself to be good at using it. P&G is not a technology company for sure, so for some people who are in tech business, the work of P&G IT might not feel so “hardcore” technology since it contains more project management than creating a technological product. But on the other hand being a very big company, the variety of projects is very satisfying. If we had a catalog of IT operations within the company, it would be as varied and diverse as a catalog of startups that a big venture capitalist invests in.
And at the end, what do I have in my pockets on my way back?
Starting from general, I do think that IT is the right fit for me. I am aware that outside of P&G, it might be quiet different than what I think IT is. But the curiosity I have while learning from other IT people’s projects is the most significant guide that I can count on for now.
What about more specific level ? During my years in university, I’ve always considered my future self changing jobs and countries. In fact I was afraid of having a classic career story starting and ending in the same place because what I expect from working has always been staying as a “learner” rather than having a tailored career and I thought working for the same company is rejecting challenges, falling in a comfort zone. Now, it is still too early to guess what I will be doing in 5 years, what opportunities I will find on the way. But I saw that working for P&G for long long time does not mean falling into a comfort zone but staying as a “learner” for all the time. I had the question of “why people love P&G that much, what is so special about it?” before my internship. Now, I think I got a full answer.
Now the story ends here, thanks to everyone who organized the event, especially to Moira and Barbara; they were always very helpful and cheerful. I wanted to write this blog post not to promote the company I am an intern of but to push people in my age to expect and ask for more from their internships and to show how that kind of events are impactful to test their passion in the area they work for, by sharing my own story. And for future students and interns, even if I end up in somewhere else in the future, I objectively think that P&G is a good start to set up your expectations from your future-career.