How do you ensure that you’ll thrive – not just as a “student” in an experiential education environment, but also where at times you’ll be the teacher for others who will seek to better understand your knowledge of technology, social media, or theory recently learned in school?
Here are some ideas to get your internship started on the path to success…
Create a set of goals along several paths: networking (online and offline), skills development, project management and soft skills are usually a great place to start.
Once you’ve written down your goals, share them with your mentor/manager so they can assign the projects and people from whom you can best learn your target skills while also accomplishing organizational goals. Be sure to keep your manager informed of your progress and accomplishments.
Also, be sure to tell your manager where you can serve as the teacher, and build a plan for educating key employees and managers.
Establish a Relationship with a Like-Minded Mentor
Your assigned supervisor may not be the most effective mentor available during your internship.
Create and maintain a relationship with the person in the organization who already possesses the skills that match your goals – and learn. Those individuals are usually more than happy to nurture enthusiastic, young talent – and work within your supervisor’s plan for your internship.
Be Prepared to Manage Up
Especially in a small-team environment where an established “intern program” doesn’t already exist, you may find yourself working without constant (or consistent) supervision. While a bit daunting at first, this is often the best way to learn.
You have your list of goals – which of those can you pursue independently? How can you accomplish your goals while helping the company get to the next level – and creating a reputation for independent thinking and action.
Track Learning & Accomplishments
Along with your mentors and manager, you are equally accountable for what you learn – and what you accomplish.
Whenever possible, track quantifiable data, for example: “Helped increase the company’s Twitter followers from 10,000 to 30,000 during my 3-month internship.” Or, “Created a cost reduction schedule that saved the company $10K per month.”
In addition to quantifiable tasks, track anecdotal measures of progress and performance. For instance, when a team member, customer or vendor appreciated your enthusiasm and problem solving skills – ask for a testimonial. If you receive a compliment via email or social media, make sure to say thank you in a public way (cc your mentor, or use a common hashtag on Twitter, for example).
Keep careful track of each instance of a compliment and accomplishment. These anecdotes will serve as a scoreboard of sorts, and show you are a team player, innovator, and a leader.
Implement these four tips for success – and you’ll be assured a successful internship experience!
This blog by YouTern CEO Mark Babbitt was originally posted by our friends at Classroom to Cubicle.