Of course, the people doing these internships go into it with certain expectations. Almost all anticipate learning valuable career skills. Many hope to do well enough to earn a job offer. But as many interns have learned before them, there is so much more to be gained by completing a high-quality internship. With that in mind, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
Other than securing a job offer, what is one thing that interns should pursue while working during their new summer internship?
Here are the helpful answers from these been-there-done-that young professionals…
1. Lay the Foundation for Your Personal Brand
A summer internship is a great time to take control of your online image and improve your employability. Building your personal brand can involve launching a personal website or a blog to showcase your accomplishments, projects worked on, and details of the internship. Also, create and update your LinkedIn profile and make sure your social media profiles depict the face you want to show to the world.
2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Don’t view your internship as an opportunity to show off what you learned in college or prove to people what you already know. Instead, view it as an opportunity to identify gaps in your current game, experience new points of view and get out of your comfort zone. By showing a willingness to learn, along with a sense of curiosity, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your early career goals.
3. Make Connections With a Variety of People
Pursue deep connections and mentorships while interning. Mix it up with people you’re not usually around — they will help you, guide you, and allow you to up your game before it’s time to start work. Connections made during these years can last a lifetime, so be sure to invest in quality, human-to-human relationships that will prove to be mutually beneficial for years to come.
4. Shadow the CEO
Interns should seek and pursue mentorship from the CEO of the company. In many cases, especially in larger organizations, getting the attention of the CEO won’t be easy. But it also isn’t impossible to get. If you do your job exceptionally well, the CEO will notice. Make a good impression and offer what value you can provide. Ask if you can shadow them for the day to learn their success secrets.
5. Learn Skills Not Available in School
Although you should certainly approach every summer internship with the aim of landing a full-time position, you will always be successful if you focus first on gaining relevant experience. This could involve working on projects, networking with skilled people and also learning new skills that can’t be taught in school. If you can leverage these into portfolio or resume additions, great. If not, you still win!
6. Make Friends
When people are thrown into a new experience together that lasts months, new friendships organically happen. Get to know your fellow interns. Go to lunch with them, meet up for coffee breaks and talk about the program. And if you’re the only intern at the company? Sign up for intramural sports or go to happy hours to get to know the team on a more personal level.
7. Build Trust With Management to Get Great Projects
You want management to give you a project you’ll be proud to feature in your portfolio. So you need to gain their trust. Do this by delivering assignments early and also going above and beyond. After you’ve done a great job and have proven your value, they’ll start assigning larger projects with more responsibility and exposure. If they don’t, volunteer to help someone on their larger project.
8. Improve Your Professional Communication Skills
Communication with co-workers at your part-time summer job and with your peers and teachers and school is entirely different than professional communication in the workplace. Use your summer internship to learn how to improve your professional communication. Learn how to talk to co-workers and boss, how to write a professional email and proper professional phone etiquette to prepare for your first job.
– John Turner, SeedProd LLC
9. Learn the Art of Active Networking
Networking is not about just meeting at events and connecting on social media. So it’s important to know the art of active networking. The best connections are formed between people who do an activity together. For example, take up a sport — golf, squash, tennis, CrossFit and yoga are great activities to meet new people and grow your network. If sports is not your thing, join a CSR initiative.
– Jack Tai, OneClass
10. Reassess Your Goals and Strengths
An internship gives you the chance to explore your own preferences, goals, and aptitudes. You may find that you have abilities you didn’t realize. Conversely, you might realize that you don’t enjoy certain tasks as much as you thought you would. As an intern, you’re in a place between school and career. Use this to gain better insights into what you really want to do and where your strengths lie.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.