Internships represent the best way to figure out what interests you and what you're good at. Plus, holding an internship can be a direct line into a full-time job. Learn how to leverage your skills and passions to jump-start your career with some tips from AT&T intern Grayson Rutherford.
Which school do you attend and what are you studying?
I'm a junior at Vanderbilt University, double majoring in human and organizational development in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and history in the College of Arts and Science.
What school subjects were you interested in while growing up?
Throughout my childhood and middle school years, I was interested in any subjects that related to writing and reading. I enjoyed English, history, newspaper and photojournalism. In high school, my interest in history deepened while I also began to enjoy philosophy, psychology and literature. Now in college, I tend to take history classes that relate to politics, gender and sexuality, race and class. I also take human and organizational development classes focused on team building, problem solving and community development.
Outside of school, what are you passionate about?
I am incredibly passionate about consuming and appreciating music, cinema and media. I run a music blog, collect vinyl records and always have a running list of films I want to watch and analyze. I also seek to constantly expand my limited world view through travel, leadership experiences and continuous learning. However, I have committed myself to a lifelong journey of searching for my “passions," so I'm still hoping to discover more!
How did you hear about AT&T's Summer Internship Program?
Growing up as a Dallas native, I've always been familiar with the AT&T brand since it is highly visible in my hometown. I learned about the actual internship program through a close friend who had worked for the company the previous summer. He informed me that his older sister is a Vanderbilt graduate, works for AT&T and has personality traits that remind him of me -- so he put me in contact with her. Once his sister and I set up a time to talk on the phone, we quickly bonded and I knew that AT&T was the right place for me to spend my summer. From there, she put me in contact with her team members to learn more about the recruitment process -- and the rest is history!
What was the deciding factor in choosing AT&T for your internship?
I chose to intern at AT&T for three reasons. First, the position was in Dallas and I wanted to be home for the summer. Second, I wanted to work for a large corporation to experience a great corporate culture. Third, I liked the people on the team I was assigned to work with and thought that my placement would be a good learning opportunity.
Tell us about some projects you are working on or have completed at AT&T?
Over the summer, I supported the College Recruiting and Development Program team as its sole intern, which allowed me to have a hand in many small and large projects. Most of my work aimed to improve the summer intern experience, attract top talent to AT&T through cutting-edge recruitment practices and boost the #ATTIntern social media presence. As an example, here are a few of the projects I completed: Produced intern newsletters, designed social campaigns for National Intern Day, created a robust communication plan for a flagship recruiting event, researched recruitment and diversity trends for computer science majors and orchestrated intern networking sessions with corporate leaders.
What do you like most about your internship?
I appreciate the responsibility I was given throughout my internship. My team treated me as an equal and gave me work that was both challenging and enjoyable. Another one of the best parts about interning for AT&T is how many different office cultures exist within one big company! Each floor seems to have a different feel, whether it be the physical layout or interpersonal interactions. But from each department to each function, every employee embraces a motivating AT&T spirit that is alive and well throughout the entire 200,000+ person company.
In my personal experience, I found AT&T to be a place that promotes continuous learning, hard work and self-motivation with a cheerful, positive attitude. The company endorses a whatever-works-best-for-you policy with attire, which allows room for comfort, style and individuality. Overall, AT&T continues to reevaluate and revamp its brand over the years to align with the true spirit of its employees, cultivating an environment that makes work feel a little bit more like home.
However, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I liked the people most about my internship. My co-workers made every day an adventure and I will forever value the relationships I built at AT&T during the summer.
What advice would you give to other students looking at internships?
Start early! The earlier you begin the recruiting process, the more time you will have to research various roles, learn about different industries and network with people at companies of interest (which is vital to landing an internship offer). Plus, starting early means you'll likely have multiple internship offers by the end of the school year, which puts you in the driver's seat of your summer. Internships are important, and starting early ensures that you have ample time to make the right decision for your future.