What Advice Would Steve Jobs Give to Today’s Interns?

When talking internship advice the other day, I remembered an interesting post by Carmine Gallo in Entrepreneur called, “Steve Jobs and the 7 Rules for Success”. In that piece, Gallo provided a synopsis of the seven rules Jobs lived by during his run as an entrepreneurial magician.

And then I thought: what if Jobs (an intern himself early in his career) presented these same seven rules for success to those just starting their summer internships?

Now, I didn’t know Steve Jobs. I grew up down the street from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino – but never saw him, not even once. So I don’t know exactly what he’d say to an intern. But here is the advice I imagine Jobs would give today:

Do What You Love

“Jobs once said, ‘People with passion can change the world for the better.’”

Some already know their passions. Great… focus on obtaining internships in your industry of choice, and set your passions free!

Others are less clear on their passions, and how to turn them into a career direction. Experiment… walk new paths… challenge yourself! That’s part of what internships are for… to gain exposure to different environments and a variety of positions – to learn where your passions may take you.

The key is… never settle. Keep experimenting until you find what truly gets you fired up to accomplish greatness! Then go in that direction as fast and as hard as you can.

Put a Dent in the Universe

“Jobs believed in the power of vision.”

Decide right now that you are much more than “Just an Intern”. Sure, you’re the new kid on the block. No, you don’t have as much experience as the executives around you. But you were hired above all the other applicants. You are there because you belong there.

You’re not a coffee “go-fer”… so don’t think or act like one. Let other interns act like stereotypical interns. You’re a future leader… a visionary!

Make Connections

“Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss.”

With each internship, you add exposure to new people – and ideas to your skills set – making you more marketable in today’s tough economy, and throughout your career.

Never stop networking. Never stop building meaningful, memorable relationships. Don’t settle for a digital connection on LinkedIn or a follow on Twitter. Pick up the phone… and talk.

Say No to 1,000 Things

“Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did.”

It’s so easy to reach too far… be stretched too thin. Focus on your internship – as if it was already your career. Say no to outside projects that may cause you to under-perform. Say no to friends who may need your “help” – over and over again. Say no to drama queens (and kings). And, when you know there is work or networking to do – just say no to Call of Duty and your buddy, Mario.

Make wise decisions. Stay focused on what will drive you, your career and your passions. Concentrate on what makes you a better person, and contributor. Everything else gets a “No, thank you.”

Create Insanely Good Customer Experiences

“Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience.”

Develop a customer-focused mindset, right now. In our new economy, nothing else matters: whoever takes better care of the customer… wins.

And not just the “real” customers who buy product; but your “internal” customers – supervisors, mentors and colleagues are counting on your contribution. Say it out loud to yourself if it helps:

“My job is to create solutions to problems – for both internal and external customers.”

After a while this mindset will become natural for you. You’ll become known as the “go to” person in the office. Most important, long after your summer internship is over, your  customer-first mindset will the key to your amazing career!

Master the Message

“You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter.”

Before you get out there and network; before you start to sell your personal brand… perfect your message.

  • Craft, refine and practice presenting your “elevator pitch” until can deliver the message perfectly, every time
  • Ask your mentor, a professor you trust or a resume professional to help make sure your resume is perfect (they will find something wrong… even after you think you’re done… but that’s exactly what you want them to do)
  • Make sure every element of your online presence basically says, “I am a capable, positive, likeable person who gets sh*t done!”

Master the message, because as Steve Jobs would tell you: “You’re always selling something!”

Sell Dreams, not Products

“Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer.”

You must realize – right now – is that this internship is not all about you – not about what you want, and what you hope to get out of the experience.

Instead of thinking about yourself 100% of the time… “sell the dreams of your employer. What is their mission? How are they making a difference? Well past whatever it says in the job description, how can you help further that mission?

Don’t just do the job. Don’t just build a product, or support those who do. Sell the dream.

Mr. Gallo, in his article, closed with an anecdote. He wrote that Jobs was once approached by a Disney executive for advice on how to re-make the Disney store chain. Part of what Jobs told the executive is something I think he’d tell any intern who asked for advice on how to succeed in their internship this summer…

He simply said two words: “Dream bigger.”

 

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Dave EllisAbout the Author: Dave Ellis is an original member of the YouTern team and is instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). Dave serves as YouTern’s Content Manager and Social Media Community Manager, and enjoys his role as the company’s “Man Behind the Curtain”. In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Connect with Dave on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter!

 

 

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