I'm sure you've heard of an aspect of work-life called corporate culture. Every company creates its own environment, one that ideally aims to maximize workplace efficiency while also maintaining a generally positive atmosphere for all employees. And it's not always clear-cut; the culture of a workplace comes out in its message, business hours, dress code, office setup, etc. 

Corporations are these huge all-encompassing machines, thriving off a harmonious and collaborative body of people from all walks of life, all of which specialize in a series of fields - marketing, IT, sales, operations, HR, etc. So, you can imagine being thrown into the mix as an intern might be a little more than stressful.

Let me get this out of the way, disclaimer: this isn't a guide to corporate culture as an intern.

Silicon Valley culture is different from that of a New York-based company, tech companies differ from advertisement companies, you get the picture. These realizations are the result of four stress-driven weeks at my first glance of corporate. 

With many, I just started an IT internship at a Fortune 500 company in NYC, and this position is truly unlike any I've had before. I've worked at several start-ups and in medical laboratory settings, and each environment offered its own challenges, but I don't think I ever had to work out of my way to feel useful. Let's just say, adjusting to corporate culture as an intern was a challenge in itself. It's easy to get overlooked, even from your manager, so it's incredibly important to fight for your recognition, as you fought for the position in the first place.

Some helpful tidbits:

1. Adults don't care half as much as you think they do. You're allowed to talk and be yourself (of course in a professional manner). If you have a question/concern, email your team or pop by one of their desks. They'll be happy to help you, and they'll be encouraged by your interest on the work matter. They get bored of the same old every day, so the new youth in the office, some would call it the sparkle in every intern's eye, will surely bring a smile to anyone's face.

2. Schedule meeting times with higher-ups. The best part of internships is the networking opportunities that are constantly available. People want to meet you - they love the young blood around the office. Be respectful of their time but also invite people of interest out to coffee for 15 minutes. They'll be glad to get a break from their work, and you'll be able to learn about their position, background, etc. It also can't hurt to see another friendly face around the office.

3. Discuss how to communicate with your manager. Sooner rather than later. I have a problem of feeling insignificant, too insignificant to want to take anyone away from their work, but that's some bull. Open communication between employees is essential to collaboration and productivity, so send them a polite email to inquire how they want you to communicate questions/your progress. They'll be glad you took the initiative, and you'll feel a lot more at ease.

4. Write everything down. No, this is not an exaggeration. Start a document that logs your daily to-do lists, goals, and expectations. Jot down the names of the people you meet, summarize meetings you attend. With this accessible, you'll be able to trace back your summer to light up your resume or just jog your memory when in conversation with a fellow employee.  

5. You're there for a reason. You might've thought getting the internship would be the hard part, but it doesn't stop there. Every day, you're being tested by the work you're given or in meetings (I know right, no pressure). But remember, you deserve the position you were assigned, and no one in the company expects you to come in as an expert. Internship programs are essentially companies' form of talent-development, so let your talents develop.

Ultimately, you want the place you're interning for to offer you – the real you – a full time position. But it's also okay to find a place that you wouldn't consider part of your long term plans. Part of finding out what you like is scoping out what you don't. Your experiences will never be a waste of time, so don't go softly through your internship. As Patrick would say,