Via Forbes : Mistakes Interns Make And How To Avoid Them
When you talk with recruiters, they typically have a list of common mistakes that summer interns make. To help prepare interns, I talked to Elizabeth Diley, the recruiting manager for MBA hiring at General Mill’s (see article here), about how to prevent the common mistakes. This year, I thought I’d get a different perspective on this topic by turning to MBA interns themselves to see what types of mistakes they—and others—have made and what advice they have to avoid falling into the common mistake trap. Below are thoughts from recent interns. As you read through the following, you’ll notice a pattern—make sure you step forward to understand, clarify, and drive alignment all the way through the internship.
Mike Burke: University of Virginia Darden School of Business – Interned in CPG
The Mistake: Not having a crystal-clear understanding of what your manager’s expectations are or what his or her definition of success looks like. Before my midpoint, I had had a few conversations with my manager and I thought I had a good grasp on what was expected of me. After I gave my midpoint presentation, however, I was completely shocked to receive feedback that I was not on track for a full-time offer.
The Fix: Sometimes it’s hard, because everyone has incredibly busy schedules, but make sure you have at LEAST a half hour scheduled with your manager each week. Type up notes directly after those meetings and send an email to your manager ensuring you have complete understanding of what was said. If feasible, set a goal of having your final presentation or project complete two weeks before its due date so that you have ample time to incorporate feedback and course-correct. Lastly, ensure your manager knows that you want the offer and that an offer for you reflects positively on him or her. This is a great way to align interests and can help ensure a good outcome for both of you.
Kelly McHugh Chtcheprov: Duke Fuqua School of Business — Interned in Tech
The mistake: Missing the opportunity to collaborate with your intern cohort. Although I was excited about my project, I struggled to navigate my new company — a tech giant with a complex organization structure and hundreds of acronyms. Tracking down the right people within the company took days, even weeks, and was critical to completing my project successfully. During a casual lunch, another intern and I discovered that we were working on similar projects, and were able to share resources and contacts. At the end of the summer, we were both far more successful than we would have been individually.
The Fix: Schedule regular meetings with the other interns and use this time to share knowledge about the company and your projects. This cohort not only creates a safe space to ask basic questions, but also allows you to find overlaps and opportunities to connect your projects, as was the case for me. In addition to improving the quality of your work, leveraging your cohort demonstrates to your manager that you have the skills and the mindset to be a great team member as a full time hire. And, if you do receive an offer to return, you will have a much better understanding of the different teams, projects, and products after spending the summer collaborating.
Jess Davidson: Kelley School of Business at Indiana University – Interned in CPG
The mistake: A mistake MBA interns make is wanting to create a big reveal during their midpoint and final presentations. Interns often feel they want to provide an element of surprise and excitement during their presentations, which often leads to lack of idea sharing with the team throughout the internship. This type of strategy often leads to lack of ‘buy in’ with key decision makers and can typically result in a Q&A session the intern is highly unprepared for.
The fix: Share recommendations with key decision makers and the cross functional team often, and build in time for feedback. As an intern you know the least about the company and must depend on others to understand feasibility of your recommendations. If most individuals in the room during intern presentations have already bought into the recommendations prior to the meeting, the presentation serves as a formality rather than a chance for key decision makers to question the validity and feasibility of the recommendations.
Mark DesMeules: SC Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University – Interned in Energy
The mistake: The first week of your internship is critical. During this period, it can be easy to spend all your time absorbing information and listening rather asking questions. Failing to ask good questions during this precious window can make it difficult to succeed during the brief MBA internship.
The fix: From day one, ask good questions…lots of them! Asking smart questions will help you both stand out and succeed. While asking questions shouldn’t be limited to your first week, challenges down the road can be mitigated if you work to gain a strong understanding of your summer assignment early on.
Chris D’Angelo: Fuqua School of Business at Duke – Interned in Consulting
The mistake: Receiving feedback is a critical part of any internship. It gives us the opportunity to build on valuable insights and further demonstrate our capabilities for the job. However, employers can often be caught up in the busy schedules of work and forget to make time to offer feedback.
The fix: Be proactive! If you find that you are getting to the halfway point of your internship and you have not received feedback, reach out and set up a meeting with your supervisor (and/or other colleagues). It will demonstrate to your employer that you have a desire to improve and hear what they have to say.
Lauren Hansen: University of Virginia Darden School of Business – Interned in CPG
The mistake: Not bringing people along throughout the journey. Ten weeks is a short window to show your manager and other influential decision-makers how you think. Because interns may be afraid to show their work when it is still in process, they refrain from getting feedback at crucial touch points. Interns can miss out on valuable insight and buy-in from stakeholders before the final project deliverable or presentation.
The fix: Bring in the right people at the right time to showcase your progress and make sure you are on track. Your manager can be a valuable resource to help determine key stakeholders and potential criticisms of your strategic plan. Letting others help guide your thinking is also an opportunity to show how you can incorporate team feedback and most importantly, highlight how you are coachable and have an enterprise-wide perspective.
Dora (Dolly) Hoskins: Darden School of Business – Interned in Retail
The mistake: Not taking on your projects as if they were your job and full responsibility. Retail moves fast. New pilots are tested every day. New data comes in by the minute. I saw at Walmart ecommerce this summer that the interns (and full time employees) who took full ownership of their project(s) on day one have the most success. There isn’t time for others to lay out your whole project plan for you, identify your key stakeholders, and define what data is needed. Instead, the best interns, and full time employees, dug in, and figured this out themselves. This can often feel lonely and make you feel insecure about whether you are moving in the right or wrong direction.
The fix: Remember, the company wants you to make insightful progress quickly. Being comfortable charting that course on your own is a huge differentiator. So rather than asking for somebody else to chart the course, take a stab and merchandise with others to make sure the plan works.
Matthew Miller: Kelley School of Business at Indiana University – Interned in Healthcare
The mistake: Internships are typically 10-12 weeks, so it’s impossible to understand all of the various processes and procedures within a given company or industry. Interns feel pressure to perform during this short window, which may lead them to be shy away from topics they do not understand. They understandably want to show their worth and appear confident in their abilities, which may lead them to fear asking clarifying or follow-up questions.
The fix: You don’t know what you don’t know. The members of any organization that you may intern for will understand that you are not be an expert in 10-12 weeks. If there is something you aren’t quite getting or just flat out don’t understand, find a way to ask the key stakeholders to help clarify. Whether it be one-on-one after a group meeting or via email, this shows that you want to further your understanding of the business. Asking clarifying questions helps interns connect with business partners who may be outside the intern’s immediate network, showing curiosity for the business and a willingness to expand their network.
Via Forbes : 7 Tips – How To Have A Successful Internship
Last year, I was approached by a student who had a really ambiguous, “boil-the-ocean” summer internship project. It was the type of question that a CEO or CMO would spend months/years grappling with. She wanted to think through how to approach such an enormous project and so following our discussion, I sat down with a small group of MBA students at the Darden School of Business to think about how to approach their summer internships. What follows are key points made during the discussion:
1. The big, “boil-the-ocean” type of projects are that way on purpose. These types of projects are designed to see how you handle pressure, stress, and how you approach ambiguous problems. The perception by some recruiters is that students today need a paint-by-numbers approach to solving problems and in fact, recruiters want to see which interns cope with ambiguity—the reality in business—effectively.
2. Don’t panic when you get the project: They don’t expect you to have the perfect answer. Rather, they want to see how you tackle it. Know that you can do it and focus on your approach/process/plan. Break it down into bite-sized pieces and put your head down and move. Don’t over-analyze your plan…come up with something, think it through, but start moving. It will not be the final plan. It’s a starting point.
3. Drive regular alignment with the “decision makers” – starting with your boss. Do this in the style that they prefer (text, email, phone calls, meetings, written versus verbal, etc.). This cannot be overstated. A source of internship failure is that the interns go-it-alone. A fundamental requirement of most internships is to drive alignment at key milestones—the plan, progress, drafts of recommendations, and the final recommendation.
4. Success in an internship is about a lot more than the final output. Companies are assessing your fit—do people like working with you, do you adapt successfully to the norms of the company (i.e., if they make recommendations through writing and not meetings, can you adapt successfully to that), are you productive with others’ time, are you easily coachable (i.e., do you listen effectively to coaching, adapt to it, and build on it), and do you have an attitude that makes the environment better? They are also determining whether you manage projects well—are you organized, do you follow-up, do you understand the resources as your disposal, and do you get the “system” and play within the system?
5. Therefore, a big part of the summer is building advocacy. In reality, how you do the work is as important in an internship assessment as the work output itself. You want to build advocacy within the organization, and this is about who you are, how you treat people, how you work with them, how you get projects done, etc.
6. Remember to stay “service-oriented” during your summer. For most of our lives, people have tried to accommodate us. Parents, teachers, retailers, etc. You now are being paid to accommodate and adapt to the company. You are in a service role, being paid a wage to serve and create value for the company. This is a paradigm shift. When you walk up to the Delta counter, you expect that as a customer they will try and deliver a superior customer experience for you. Your company, your boss, your peers are now the “customer”. You are in a position to create value for the company while seeking to create a superior customer experience for those with whom you work. This can be a substantial paradigm shift for many and a key reason why some interns don’t get full-time job offers. Several years ago, a recruiter was telling me about an intern who complained to HR in week three that her boss wasn’t given her enough time. Is this how a service provider thinks? Or does a service provider realize that her boss is busy and that she needs to find a way to move the project along given her boss’ constraints?
7. And this leads to the last tip… you must lead during the internship to ensure you achieve your internship goals. Leadership isn’t bossing – it is about influencing the direction of your project(s). Leading can come through questions …. “I know you are really busy and I don’t want to waste your time. I also want to make sure that I’m on the right track and moving the project(s) forward so that the result is useful for you and the team. What method of keeping you apprised of progress works best for you – do you prefer weekly/daily emails or meetings or phone calls or something else?” A leader drives the project forward and can use a multitude of methods to make this happen—questions, writing a short proposal/plan/recommendation and seeking feedback, setting up key milestone meetings, etc. This is the crucial part of the summer—leading to ensure that you move the projects forward to a successful conclusion. And for some, it’s hard to shift from following bosses to leading bosses. You will want to lead your boss and it’s all about figuring out how to do that in a way that works for the boss and fits within the culture of the company. For example, when I interned at P&G many years ago, the culture was a writing culture. Every day, I would meet with my boss to discuss progress—but everything was written down. Project objectives, plan, approach, resources needed, progress, and recommendations were all on paper and enabled us to engage productively. Had I not written anything down, it would have been hard to engage in that culture. I was fortunate at the time because I had a terrific boss, Rick Thompson, who was very clear about expectations and helped make it easy to work for him, but this isn’t always the case. Ferreting out how to effectively lead given a boss’ preferences and the norms of the company requires a lot of EQ.
Finally, the last key piece of advice is to use the summer internship for what it is—a job “try-out”. Most likely, you will never again have the ability to “test” a job while getting paid to do so. This is a time in your life where you have the opportunity to build your adaptation muscle (critical for long-term success) while also assessing the company, the culture, and the work. If it isn’t for you, that’s fine. This isn’t a make or break moment, and so try and have some fun and let the pressure go. I’ve watched a number of students return from their internships and say: “Wow—that wasn’t for me”. They then have a better idea of what they want (and don’t want) and convert that insight into a search plan for their second year. Use this as learning, practice, and a growth opportunity and don’t be too hard on yourself. A career lasts a long time—potentially 50 years or more—and so a 2-3 month experience is a very small part of the bigger picture.
Via Evening Standard : 5 tips on how to get the most out of your internship
So it’s not just about making the tea…
As anyone who has ever done an internship will know, there can be a lot of menial tasks involved. Dry cleaning fetching, tea making, photocopying, phone answering… you name it.
But according to a recent survey, 18-30 year olds are fighting back when it comes to work experience. The majority interviewed called into question the value of internships and believed their skills weren’t being taken into consideration.
Only one third of respondents, who took part in the Lloyds Banking Group’s survey, said they they felt internships boosted their employability – which is surely the point of doing one in the first place.
But there are advantages to be gained from doing an internship – it’s just about choosing the right one and putting the right effort in.
Here, Mash PR guru Stu Campbell-Carran, shares his expert tips on how to get the most out of your next internship.
Attention to detail
Diligence is crucial in everything you do or you inevitably set yourself up for failure. Especially in an internship, it is vital that you pay particular attention to detail. Remember that you are making a first impression in a company you might want to work with in the future and sloppiness is easily interpreted as a lack of commitment to the job. You’re also working for that all-important reference.
If you fail to plan you are planning to fail
Needless to say, a goal-oriented attitude is essential to succeed in the business world. However, the same holds true for the process of choosing an internship. Always question your reasons for committing to a particular programme: Is it because you truly believe this will add value to your future career or is it out of fear that nothing else will come along?
Do what you love
Steve Jobs once said; “The only way to do great work is to do what you love.” I second this 100 per cent. In my career, I have seen many different personalities come and go – and my best colleagues and employees were always the ones with passion. Choosing an internship you’re excited about will make it easier for you to excel and profit from this time in the future.
Believe to achieve
Flexibility and the ability to adjust are key qualities in the work place. You might have carefully selected your internship, you might have planned ahead, yet things might go wrong. Rather than revel in despair, keep your eyes on your goal. What do you want to take away from the internship? A former client once said something very wise: “Put the “SUCCESS” postcode into the Satnav”. It’s cheesy but true: If you don’t consider failure an option, it doesn’t become one.
Work is like life – you get out what you put in. Never see yourself as ‘just’ an intern. The company has taken you on because it had a specific workload pressure to address, it wasn’t a benevolent favour to the world. Instead, ask yourself: Am I doing the best I can? If the answer is no, the next question needs to be: What do I need to change to improve? Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and don’t forget to use it wisely. Learning how to constructively receive criticism is a quality that you will profit from for a lifetime.
Via The Odyssey Online : 6 Reasons Why An Internship Is Important For Your Future Career
Internships are definitely an investment for your future.
What I think is the biggest problem for young adults transitioning into the world field is that you need experience to have experience. In order to do so, an internship gives you just that. Internships are definitely an investment for your future. If you still don’t know why you should think about finding a great internship, here are six reasons why:
An internship gives you a real life experience into what your everyday life will look like at work. It exposes you to the real world and lets your practice everything you’ve learned in college. You even earn a valuable education through your internship, there’s always something new to learn.
In order to advance your professional career, it’s important to make good relationships within your workforce field. Bring an intern gives you an opportunity to make many connections and gives you a chance to network. This could be very beneficial to your professional career later on. It’s important to also keep in touch with people during and after your internship because if a position is open, they’ll think of you to fill it! I would recommend having a Linkedin account to keep all your connections together.
3. Resume builder
Having an internship is a great resume builder. When you go to job interviews, the first section your future employer might look at is your experience. Seeing you e done internships shows your experience s and enhances your resume. Also reading about your job tasks and projects done as an intern shows your value and what you bring to the table.
During your internship, you gain many skills and most of all, you gain confidence. When you’re learning on the job and being a college student in training, confidence in what you do is important because it shows through your work. While being an intern, you gain this wonderful trait that you can use not only at work but in life.
5. Possible college credit
Some universities, including my own, offer credit in exchange for having an internship. Depending on the school’s policy, you are giving one to six credits for an internship. This is beneficial because this teaches the students to be more responsive with their duties and work harder and give more effort into the profession.
6. You learn more about yourself
This is most important. When you complete your first day as an intern, you come home really happy because pure closer to what you what to do with the future or you think you made the wrong choice. Steve Job once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” Having an internship gives you a clear perspective of who you are. You learn more about yourself, about what you want to do and how you want to live.
Via The Balance : Tips for Internship Networking: How To Network
Building Your Professional Contacts
Over the course of your lifetime, networking will be the single most effective strategy used in advancing your career. Learning the skills for effective networking is worth the time and energy it requires since it’s such an important aspect of the job search process. Students, new graduates and experienced employees can all benefit immensely by learning effective networking techniques and practices by maintaining professional contacts that can be used as references for future internships and jobs and as a career builder for your future.
Time Required: Lifetime Commitment
Here’s How to Network
1. Build a list of contacts.
Check with your college for alumni contacts that offer assistance with career planning & development in specific career fields of interest, searching for jobs/internships, and learning more about entry, middle, and advanced jobs available in the field. Previous employers and professional contacts can also be added to the list of networking contacts, as well as any mentors you’ve had along the way.
2. Take action.
Contact individuals on the list by phone or email. Prepare a brief script or “elevator speech” describing yourself and your goals as well as a list of questions to ask. Be sure to let the person know how you got their name and why you are calling. Taking some time to research the contact’s career field, industry, and company will enable you to ask informed questions when interviewing.
3. Keep in touch on a regular basis.
Your networking contacts are interested in keeping abreast of your accomplishments and career journey. Keeping the lines of communication open after your initial connection is crucial to networking and maintaining your list of contacts.
4. Ask permission to use as a reference.
Inform all contacts when you are beginning the job search process and update them on the outcome of your search. Ask contacts if they know of any open positions available and ask if they know of any other people in the field you can talk to.
5. Send a thank you note.
Send out a thank you note to all connections you make in the networking process. This little gesture will stand out with your contacts and will increase the likelihood that they will be willing to assist you in the future.
6. Be ready to reciprocate.
Once you’ve been hired as an intern or employee it’s an opportunity for you to help others involved in the internship or job search process. Many of the contacts you’ve made along the way may be helpful to other internship or job seekers and you yourself may become a mentor to others.