Three key takeaways from my summer internship with Autodesk

autodesk employees on a boat rideTo spend my MBA internship at Autodesk felt like a dream come true. Not only because I’m a 10-year avid AutoCAD user, but more importantly I believe in a sense of purpose. Looking back on my engineering career–from micro-controller automation, diesel engine assembly to cryogenic equipment design and manufacturing–I’m continuously fascinated by the revolutionary impact that the engineering, manufacturing, and construction industries have made, and how engineering software has enabled us to reimagine processes and improve productivity exponentially.

I joined Autodesk during a pivotal and exciting phase, when the company had made impressive progress in business model transformation. During my 12-week internship in BSM Finance under FP&A, I developed new features for the financial dashboard that enables different stakeholders to measure financial performance and impact business decisions. Here’s my three biggest takeaways from the experience.

First, ‘Make anything’ is more than just a company tagline

Autodesk genuinely encourages people who are passionate Autodesk interns posing for a photo about making things and gives us the tools to make it happen. I’m very into 3D printing but couldn’t afford to print any parts because 3D printers and the right tools are costly. Fortunately, Autodesk offered me free software installation, training, and Autodesk Amber 3D Printer access. I was able to print my favorite character, Yoda from Star Wars, with the kind help from a coworker Aaron Addleman. Later throughout the internship, I explored our Landmark Gallery and Pier 9 Gallery and saw many more meticulous fine product pieces designed by Autodesk; it was absolutely fascinating.

Second, it pays to be proactive, even it means walking out of the comfort zone

kelsey zhou and her bossI’m an introvert and it took me a lot of courage to schedule the first chat with coworkers. But on the other hand, I was genuinely curious about people’s career journeys, how the business operates, and how I could do better for my internship project, so I scheduled anyway. After the first chat, it became addicting. I was blown away by how much people want to help me to be successful here. Everyone accepted my chat invites, even the CFO Scott Herren, one of the nicest executives I’ve met. I was connected to so many people that provided me incredible insights for my intern project, career advice, and the strategies behind business executions. All it took was being proactive.

Third, immerse yourself in your community

Autodesk employees at giants gameDay 1 of my internship, I missed my UW Foster MBA friends a lot because most of them are interning in the Greater Seattle Area. Day 2, I decided to embrace this Bay Area experience by immersing myself into the community. Once I had this mindset shift, I realized that Autodesk has over 100 interns in the Bay Area, the intern program is very well-organized. We had weekly lunch-and-learn events with company leaders, including CEO Andrew Anagnost, and fun activities such as the Pride Parade, a Giants game, the Exploratorium, a Food Tour, and our Intern Olympics. I was able to become close friends with so many fellow Autodeskers through the various activities, and we’ve stayed connected after our internships.

Overall, I had a blast this summer at Autodesk, surrounded by a work environment full of respect and support. Because of this experience, I have a much clearer picture of what I want to achieve during the 2nd year of my MBA at UW Foster School of Business in Seattle and am excited to start the next phase of my journey.

Kelsey ZhouGuest post by Kelsey Zhou, MBA class of 2019.