Have you ever seen the movie, Mean Girls? Well there’s a scene in the movie where the main character, Cady, is the new girl at school and eats lunch by herself in a bathroom stall. You know the one.
I’ve moved nine times in my life. I’ve lived in seven different states and attended nine different schools. You could say I’ve been the new girl a time or two myself, and every time I’m always terrified I’ll wind up eating lunch by myself in a bathroom stall like Cady. Thank you, Hollywood.
This summer I made move #10 to Kalamazoo to work as a finance intern for Stryker. My first day was a whirlwind. I have vague memories of sitting through an onboarding presentation, learning and immediately forgetting the names of my 90 fellow interns, and going out to lunch with the Worldwide Reporting team, who I would be working with all summer. Overall the day went smoothly, and everyone seemed super friendly. Nevertheless, the old new-kid worries swarmed through my mind the night before my first full day in the office:
What if I get lost?
What if they realize I don’t know anything about Technical Accounting and Policy?
Who am I going to eat lunch with?
By 11:50 the next morning I’d had my first meeting with my manager, Noah, to go over some of the projects I would be responsible for. I was pleasantly surprised that the work seemed to be meaningful and challenging and also that I had managed to find my way back to my desk from Noah’s office. To top it all off, I had yet to be asked to recite the Accounting Standards Codification from memory. You could say I was feeling pretty good.
By 11:58 I was a ball of nerves again. I started weighing my options. I could eat lunch by myself at my desk…eat lunch by myself in the cafeteria…eat lunch by myself in a bathroom stall….
Luckily, my nervous musings were interrupted by a friendly, equally nervous looking intern who had approached my desk. Before she could so much as introduce herself, I blurted out, “Do you want to go eat lunch?” Despite my awkward introduction, she agreed, and the two of us enjoyed getting to know each other as we ate lunch in the cafeteria.
Over the next 12 weeks, I spent my lunch hour in a variety of ways: getting to know experienced Stryker professionals who were always eager to share their experiences with me one on one; attending Lunch and Learn events where I networked with financial leaders and learned more about other departments; running out for a quick bite with my managers in between projects; and carpooling to the local Chinese buffet with interns who I now consider good friends.
Last week I ate lunch by myself for the first time. As I munched on my apple (at my desk, not in a bathroom stall), I reflected on how scared I had been to be the new kid at Stryker. Looking back, it seems silly to have been that nervous compared to how confident I feel now. Thanks to managers who weren’t afraid to trust me with a challenge, a recruiting team who was always there to point me in the right direction when I got lost, and a friendly stranger on my first day, I’ve grown more personally and professionally in one summer than I could have ever imagined.
Michigan State University
Corporate, Worldwide Reporting Intern