The celebration of July 4th and America’s Birthday is usually the mark of the middle of the summer, and for many students it’s also the mark of their halfway point through their summer internship. At this point, many of you already are doing great things to excel in your summer internship, but you might be wondering if there’s anything else that you are not doing that you should. Furthermore, some of you are figuring things out and getting up to speed, so with that, here are six things you can do to make sure you succeed in your summer internship.
Check in on your goals
Take the time to check in on the goals that you set for yourself (assuming you set some!) before you started your internship. Figure out what you have made progress towards, what you haven’t done yet, and also what specific actions you can take to make sure that by the end of the summer you achieve as many of the goals as possible. Additionally, sometimes in the craziness of getting started, you may have not had time to articulate your goals with your manager. If that’s the case, make sure to lay them out in this conversation, and to be clear they are aware of these goals. People are not mind readers, so it’s important for you to articulate your thoughts so they can do what they can to help you achieve these goals.
Conduct a start, stop, and continue
Setting, maintaining (and hopefully exceeding) expectations is one of the most important lessons in the corporate world. Learning how to do this will serve you well no matter where you go. One simple framework I often use is the “Start, Stop, and continue.” Sit down with your manager and get a sense of:
- Start: What you should start doing right away
- Stop: What you need to stop doing right away
- Continue: What is working and what you should keep doing
There are other forms of doing this but I think the simplicity of this helps keep it directional and on point.
Talk to other People at Teams
Now that you are on the inside, take advantage of being there. Go talk to other teams and people on those teams who you think are interesting, or who you want to learn more about. This can be helpful in evaluating how much you are enjoying your current role and team, and also help you get a better sense of the company.
If you are at a large company, there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of really smart, intelligent, people who could end up being your coworkers one day. Take the time to get to know some of them to understand what they do, how they got to where they are, and what kinds of advice they might have for you.
Keep arriving early and staying late
One of the most simple ways employers evaluate interns is how interested/eager are they in doing the work at the company? One way to do that is to literally be there and be present. While it may seem small or perhaps even unnecessary, for most of Corporate America, Optics Matter. For most of corporate America, optics matter. If that’s the case for your organization go the extra mile and be the first to arrive and the last to leave. Your credibility and reputation are things that time and effort to build, and this is a good way to start building both of those.
Write down what you’ve done and learned
Internships can move fast and can often be a blur. Before you know it, you’ll be back on campus and back in class. Before you head out for the summer, make sure to take stock of the projects and initiatives you’ve worked on as well as the impact and value that you’ve added. This will help you reflect upon what you got out of the internship and may also be helpful if you have to make a presentation at the end of the summer about what you actually did and what value you added. Finally, at some point you’ll probably need to update your LinkedIn, and your resume, so writing these things down will be helpful for when it comes to that.
Get to know the people and culture
The internship is your chance to evaluate a company and its culture to see if it’s a fit for you as much as it is for them to see if you are a fit for them. Take advantage of this by observing the people and culture in your interactions in your work and by talking to other coworkers and colleagues as possible before the summer ends.
During these conversations, focus on learning about peoples backgrounds and experiences, what they do and why they like what they do, what specifically attracts them to this specific company and role, and what kinds of future aspirations they have. I’m sure you’ll have other kinds of questions but these areas should give you a greater sense of the types of people you might be working with and the type of environment you’ll be working in if you choose to come back for a full-time role.
Extra Credit: Pick up a side project
If you want to seal the deal, consider taking on an extra project or initiative on behalf of your manager or another leader within the company. This demonstrates your willingness to be a team player, role up your sleeves, and identify and solve problems that may or may not be directly related to your scope of work, all things that are viewed positively by managers and leaders.
So, how do you this? Identify an opportunity or challenge that they are facing, and come up with a solution or set of recommendations on how to fix it. Or, offer to do research on a particular topic that needs insight. Lastly, find out what’s something they’ve wanted to do but just haven’t had the time to do and go and do it.
Internships are short, and it’s important to make sure are able to do everything you possibly can in the time that you have. At the end of the day, your job is to prove you are a value add to the company an. So anything you can do to demonstrate you are a valuable asset to the organization is going to make you indispensable and cement your reputation as a great intern.