Who am I?
My name is Austin Isgrig, and I am a rising senior and economics major at Princeton University. This summer I got the opportunity to support the executive office in the North American Customer Innovation Office (CInO) as a Strategic Operations Intern. Not every internship gives you the chance to do work for and with high-level executives, so that has been a unique and rewarding part of my internship.
I discovered this role after it was posted on the Princeton Career Services Office online portal. After submitting my application, I went through several rounds of interviews, including providing a writing sample. I was drawn to working at SAP because of its reputation as an established brand with a culture of innovation at its core. As someone who is fascinated by innovation and emerging trends, but who also wanted to work at a reputable company that I knew could support me, SAP was an obvious choice for me.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at SAP, and I am writing this post in order to articulate why this experience has been so valuable for me. Whether you are a prospective applicant exploring your options, a recent hire trying to get a sense for what your first day will be like, or just a random person exploring the internet, I hope that my post can help to answer any questions that you might have about interning at SAP.
Anyways… These are the highlights of my experience so far:
- Professional writing is a skill worth perfecting: Being an effective storyteller is an essential skill in any career that you pursue. Writing reports that are used in professional settings has helped me to grow my confidence as a writer, and feedback on my work has helped me to learn how to better organize large amounts of complex information. Furthermore, I have slowly but surely gotten a better understanding of SAP’s key terms and strategies, which has enhanced the connection that I have with the work that I do.
- SAP runs on connections: I cannot stress the importance of connections in your career enough, and there are many people at SAP that are happy to share their diverse experiences and stories with you. I encourage anyone that is interning at SAP to be proactive in reaching out to others! You will learn a lot from them as you develop your own SAP network.
- Oh Yeah, I’ve Heard of them before…: SAP is everywhere, whether you realize it or not. In your role, you will likely work on projects and/or deals with high profile companies that you buy from or hear about in your everyday life. I have even seen projects that I had previously done work for featured in Wall Street Journal articles, which was really gratifying!
The onboarding process was completed entirely remotely, as I took online intro courses and read about various company policies. I only had to wait a few weeks between accepting the offer and my first day, and the whole process involving that went very smoothly. I was also sent a 16-inch MacBook Pro to use as a work computer (awesome!) and a welcome kit, which was a nice touch.
Before starting my internship, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. While I had prior internship experience, it wasn’t at a company anywhere near the same size as SAP. Luckily for me, SAP went out of their way to make sure that I had a smooth transition into working remotely. During my first week, I was given time to get used to the remote work environment and explore SAP’s various applications that I would be using for the next few months. Every new job can be overwhelming at first, so having that time to settle in was something that I really appreciated. So, don’t feel nervous before starting your job! You will not be expected to complete an extensive project in your very first week. There is no need to go overboard in preparing and studying before your first day. Take that time to refresh so that you can focus your energy towards ensuring a great start to your internship.
I report to two main supervisors: the Chief of Staff for the Customer Innovation Office (CInO) and the Director of Communications and Strategic Alignment for CInO. I check in with them at least once a week, where we discuss my progress on various projects that I am working on. They have both been excellent in setting me up to succeed, while at the same time pushing me to challenge myself and try new things.
For my work, I write regular research reports relating to developing news and trends. Those pieces are often relevant to SAP’s long-term goals and/or deals that SAP is involved with, so my supervisors really appreciate me being able to contextualize these stories for them.
In addition to my research, I have been working on an analysis of executive engagements. As an economics major, I have prior experience working with statistical models in Excel and other similar applications. That experience has been very useful in doing this analysis, as it allowed me to hit the ground running and perform all kinds of different analysis (via graphs, tables, regressions, etc.). I have also applied my improved storytelling skills to this project so that when I presented it, I was able to tell a cohesive story about why my analysis matters and what it means going forward.
Since I have been working entirely remotely, I have not gotten the chance to meet people in person. What has helped with that is being part of a weekly call where I get to (virtually) hang out with other CInO interns (and new full-time hires)! It is great to be able to hear how other people are enjoying their roles, as well as get to know them a little bit better. There are also SAP intern-wide events where you get to hear from internal and external guest speakers.
Forming connections is a key part of the SAP experience – there is a vast amount of experience and knowledge that more seasoned employees are eager to share. I set the goal of having a conversation with at least one person on a different team than mine at SAP each week. Don’t be afraid to reach out – people will be happy to talk with you. It is important to remember to prepare for these meetings, as I have tended to learn more from others when I prepared well-thought-out questions beforehand. You will also improve your soft skills as you continue to network with more and more people, so no worries if you have a few awkward silences in your first conversation. The important thing to do is to just get started so that you can begin to leverage SAP’s amazing network of employees. Even as a remote worker, I was able to meet with so many great people, which speaks to just how willing people at SAP are to talk with anyone (yes, even interns).
I am grateful for the opportunity to work at SAP, and I have had a pleasant and enjoyable experience so far. The three highlights of my experience have been developing my writing skills, seeing my work in the real world, and forming genuine connections with fellow SAP employees.
I hope that prospective interns who read this will be encouraged to apply! Regardless of your skillset, there is somewhere at SAP that is right for you. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.