Recently, I've been reflecting on how I use LinkedIn to see what's going on in the professional lives of my friends and colleagues, like almost any other social media page. However, I realized that I, myself, have not given much of an update to my professional life in-the-making. So I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned in the past two months at Heartland Financial USA, Inc.
The first thing I learned at Heartland is that I will not be fetching coffee and running errands all day. If you've ever seen “The Devil Wears Prada,” you know that Andy (Anne Hathaway) works as an assistant (not even an intern) and runs errands and fetches coffee for upwards of 10 hours per day. Her pay is terrible, her boss, Miranda (Meryl Streep) is wretched, and Andy feels like she's drowning. I think most millennials imagine this is how their first internship will go, right down to trying to find the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript. While this may be the workings of some internships, it is so unlike mine.
A little background on Heartland Financial USA, Inc.; Heartland was founded in 1981 and is a holding company that owns and manages 13 different banks across the country. These banks range anywhere from Illinois to California, Minnesota to Texas, and the states that lie between. The special thing about Heartland as a holding company is that it has the "big bank punch with the community bank touch." Heartland allows for banks to make decisions locally, but still provides customers with all the resources to satisfy their banking needs.
The second thing I learned at Heartland is that I am never bored. Everything that is designed for these member banks under Heartland is designed by Heartland employees. I've designed creative pieces for banks from Arizona Bank & Trust to Dubuque Bank & Trust, located Dubuque, Iowa, where Heartland is based. Recently, Heartland completed the merger of Centennial Bank and Trust and Citywide Banks in Colorado. With any merger or acquisition, there are going to be a lot of marketing material updates, press releases, fliers, and updates for standard banking papers. My intern year came at a great time because I got to be a part of this big transition. There has been so much updating and changing and fixing and reworking to be done for this conversion, and it's been so much fun! The days go by swiftly and it is enjoyable.
Lastly (for now), the third thing I learned at Heartland is that everyone is awesome! I've yet to encounter someone that I do not like. All of the people I work with are great. They've helped me every step of the way through my internship. When starting at any company, there are always new programs to learn and file locations to find. My coworkers have helped me learn how to do these new and unfamiliar things. I've become a whiz at finding a file buried 12 folders deep. I've found newer and easier ways to complete tasks in programs I've been working in for the past three years. My disdain for working on a PC computer has lessened because I can more efficiently understand how to use one. Every day, I learn something new here. I've made friends through this internship and connections that will help me in my future.
The more I grow and change, the more I realize that Miranda is not the bad guy in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Miranda has her standards in order and is running her magazine according to those standards. Andy has to gain a more intense work ethic and has more difficult tasks to complete (even finding the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript, which she did). In the real working world, life is never perfect. Bad days will happen, your boss will upset you, and you will feel like you're drowning. However, if you're working a job you love, work doesn't feel like work. Days will go by faster and work will be fun. And before you know it, your first internship is almost over and you're saddened by the thought of leaving the people who have taught you so much.