Summer internships are one of the best ways to put into practice what you learned in your classes in school. The best companies treat their interns as regular full-time employees and will give you an opportunity to experience real work life. Internship spots are extremely limited so do your part to maximize your summer.
I recently onboarded my star intern Jingloh for our People Ops team at Lalamove and shared with her five tips that helped me during my own internship days. I encourage you all to consider these as well.
1. Attitude trumps skills
You were hired for a reason. Your CV stood out among hundreds of applicants and you impressed the recruiter, hiring manager, and the team in the interview process. We know you have the skills to do the job, so what we want to see next is how you approach the work itself.
Positivity and a willingness to learn go a LONG way. Show up each day ready to take on new challenges and be enthusiastic when others are not. One common thing that all interns will go through is doing some grunt work. And this applies to all levels – every job will have some form of unglamorous work.
It is especially during these times where your attitude shines through the most to your manager and your team. Remember to smile, don’t take yourself too seriously, and learn something new each day.
2. Be proactive
The best interns do not wait around for their managers to give them new projects when their current tasks are done. Be proactive and look for ways to add value to your team and organization before your manager even asks.
See a deck or spreadsheet that can be cleaned up? Make a copy and improve it!
Heard in the last team meeting that new competitors have entered the market? Research the new players and do a market analysis!
Find the monthly newsletter to be boring and out of style? Jazz it up!
There is a ton to do, and it starts with you understanding the needs of your team and the organization. Don’t start making crazy changes in your first week but work your way into these new tasks as you get more comfortable and confident in your role.
3. Network, network, network
As an intern, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) in the organization wants you to succeed. You’re young, you’re ambitious, you’re inquisitive — it is second nature to root for you. So your job is to take advantage of it.
Internships are the best time to network internally and explore what every team does. Ideally, you’d already be part of the team you have the most interest in. However, if this isn’t the case, go and meet the team that does the work that you are most passionate about! No one will ever reject an intern wanting to learn.
In your first few weeks, draft up a list of 5 – 10 employees you’d like to meet and invite each one for an informational coffee chat during your summer. While you’re at it, send a note to your CEO as well! Remember: everyone is rooting for you to succeed – including the leader of your organization. The worst thing that can happen is that he/she will say no. Go make a new friend!
4. Befriend the other interns
In addition to integrating in your own team, remember to stay close with the batch of interns you started with in the summer. Most times companies have interns across multiple teams, so this is another great way to learn about different functions of the business and from one another. Stay connected even after your internship, and you’ll be surprised to see where you all will end up.
This is a picture of my first ever business trip when I was an intern with Deloitte in the summer of 2013. I met these two soon-to-be certified public accountants that summer and we still keep in touch to this day. Helen is now a UX Designer in New York City and JP is now a M&A Senior Consultant in Los Angeles! Funny how life plays out sometimes.
5. HAGS – Have A Great Summer
It’s easy to get caught up in all the work and new things you are learning, but remember to enjoy yourself in the process. For many of you, this will be your last summer before your final year of school. Until you enter the real world, fail as much as you can, find joy in the little things, and cherish the time with your friends and family. Have a great summer everyone!