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How I Went from Intern to Full-time Employee at Palo Alto Networks

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Author: Austin La Chance | Technical Writer

When I first received my internship offer letter, I was so relieved. I had been working and going back to school, full-time , and I was also spending 4 hours a night in online writing classes. I had finally succeeded in landing an internship, one directly related to my studies. I thought to myself, “now I can relax, right?” Well, once the excitement died down, I knew I had a lot of work to do if I wanted to turn my internship into a new full-time position working in the field I was interested in. 

Once my internship started, I hit the ground running. I was not about to waste any time while trying to succeed in my role, and to make my intentions known about my desire to continue in my role once I had graduated.

These are the areas I focused on to make myself standout, and to make a transition to full-time employment as smooth as possible.

Build Strong Relationships

I was lucky enough to stay with the team I interned with when making my transition to full-time, but even if you end up in a different team or different org, you should build relationships that last. 

Connecting with your teammates and manager is crucial to your learning process. They are valuable resources that will help you familiarize yourself with the systems and processes important to your role, and can point you towards important stakeholders and subject matter experts that will make your job easier. And if you do end up in a different team after your transition, you will still have a group of coworkers that you can go to for advice and assistance.

As a technical writer, I have to interface with Product Managers and engineers on a daily basis. They are invaluable resources when it comes to getting my work done in a timely manner, so it is important for me to build those relationships and have a good rapport with them. And building strong relationships with my direct teammates has improved my communication skills and my confidence when reaching out to others and building relationships with those subject matter experts.

Embrace Challenges

Starting a new job is always difficult. It seems like everyday there is something new to learn and that you are just constantly juggling tasks. While it is important to learn during your internship, it should not be your only focus. You need to be able to shift between a learning-oriented mindset and the problem-solving mindset that someone working full-time would have. 

Whether it is working on an intern-project you’ll present at the end of your internship, or taking on some of the responsibilities of your role, you should be taking everything that comes at you as an opportunity for growth and skill development. 

Understand Company Culture

Palo Alto Networks has such an amazing company culture. Even while working remotely, it is hard not to feel like you are part of a great community. But even with such an inviting and positive company culture, it can still be difficult to start immersing yourself within it. 

Take some time to read about the core company values and mission. Think about what the values mean to you and how you might embody them in your day to day work.

What really helped me understand our values was seeing how people reward each other in Bonusly (our internal recognition system). It was great to see how each person gave recognition to a coworker and the actions taken that exemplified our values. It made it so much easier to think about, and start working on, ways I could exemplify those values while completing tasks.

Seek Opportunities 

While completing your internship, you want to demonstrate your growth and development. When you have downtime, or when the opportunity presents itself, you should always be seeking our new opportunities for development and growth.

Talk to your manager or your teammates. Ask if you can assist with anything. Pickup small projects when your full-time coworkers don’t have the bandwidth to work on them. Always look for tasks that will contribute to your growth and help build your experience.

Continuously Improve

Seeking out opportunities is just half the battle. You should be executing those tasks to the best of your ability. Always seek out feedback and share your work with your manager and coworkers. Ask about what you can do to improve workflows or the work itself. There will always be areas that can be improved, and being so early in your career means you will have plenty of opportunities to fix mistakes and become more proficient in the core skills of your role. 

If you can demonstrate your growth and mastery of the skills and work required of your role, you will position yourself to succeed if, or when, a transition to full-time presents itself. 


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