Legend has it that there was once a time when summer internships used to just be a small window of experience for the novice business students, a window through which they would peep into the corporate world for 2 months. Ah, how have the times changed! Summers have increasingly become the most preferred way that companies recruit candidates. Here, we have created a list of things that you can do to make sure that you get the most out of your summers:
1. Communication with Your Mentor: The first step to delivering effective solutions is to be clear as to what the problem is. Do not mince words. Do not try to conform. Discuss with your mentor what your project is and ensure that you are clear about the deliverables along with the timeline of each. After having discussed your project charter, make sure you write a mail stating in your language what exactly do you need to do. This would ensure that you are exactly on the same page as your mentor regarding what is expected of you.
2. Curiosity: Summer internships provide a galore of learning opportunities.You will get to experience practically a lot of what you had only read in textbooks till now. Ask questions on everything you don’t understand. Ask as many questions as possible, and then ask some more. It shows that you are motivated and eager to learn.
3. Knowledge + Perspective: First impressions matter and the way to make your firsts click is to be interested in the company and the industry. Remain updated about the new trends coming up in the field and how your company is positioned to make headway with these new trends. Marketing interns can refer to AdAge, Advertising Week, Brand Equity or Afaqs. Public relations and communications inters should read PRWeek; social media interns, Mashable. Finance interns should read the Wall Street Journal. Accounting interns, The Journal of Accountancy. Sign up for Google Alerts so that you receive notifications on sector news. Take note of upcoming trends, major players, holding companies and thought leaders. Also do not forget that even more important than information is perspective. Have a perspective on what you read. Even if you are blatantly wrong, you are far ahead of others who just read without thought.
4. Daily Goals: Everyday prepare a daily log of things you want to achieve that day. At the end of the day, take note of all that you managed to achieve and the key learning you gained. 8 weeks fly by quicker than you would expect, and to make optimum use of your time, track daily deadlines and the work completed. It will also help you understand which tasks you excel at and need less time to finish, and which ones you need to work upon.
5. Take Initiative: It’s the interns who get just as involved with projects as actual employees, if not more, who truly stand out. If the opportunity arises, volunteer your opinions. Just be sure to back them up with a logical explanation. If your manager asks for suggestions on a project, speak up. If they want volunteers for an extra assignment, volunteer. These are sure-fire ways to stand out and ensure that you create a memorable impression. Taking initiative when given opportunities also shows your supervisors that you can be a valuable asset to the team.
If you have a good idea, do not hesitate to share it. Companies want interns to give a fresh perspective. The worst thing an intern can do to himself/herself is to accept status quo. Question things, and try to find new vantage points to inspect things from. Make mistakes. Never repeat them. In fact, if you have made no mistakes in 2 months, that is the biggest mistake you could have made!
6. Be the millennial: With the advent of the internet and social media, marketing has undergone a radical transformation. The entire world is going digital, and as a millennial, there is an expectation that new media is second nature to you. You can be really valuable by providing sharp consumer insights as well as a fresh new perspective to people who have already been in the industry for years, and have naturally become prone to looking at the picture the same way.
7. Socialize: Internships are a great opportunity to build long-lasting corporate relationships. Your supervisors and co-workers may be immersed in projects and deadlines, so make sure you take the initiative to introduce yourself and exhibit a genial and jovial attitude to everyone you meet. Remember, the interns who deliver the best projects are the ones who are able to get people excited about their work, trespass hierarchy and create relationships to quickly get vital information.
8. Ask more from your tutor: One way to show your commitment to the company and the project allotted to you is to go above and beyond what is expected of you. If your supervisor asks for three alternatives, provide four. If you find yourself with nothing to do, ask for another assignment. Not only will you be busy learning new things, but you will also impress your mentors. Do not treat your internship with a lackadaisical attitude where you only do as much is asked from you and not an iota more. One caveat: be careful to finish all your other assignments before you ask for more work. Do not use the excuse of having too much work to slack off your earlier commitments.
9. Discipline: Highlight your commitment to the job through punctuality and hard work. Show up for meetings and one-on-ones on time. Keep buffers and be accountable.
10. Present a holistic perspective: Interns are usually given a lot of execution work. However you are expected to not only understand how to do that job, but also why are you doing it. You should try to build in the perspective wherein you understand where your little job fits into the full scheme of things. If you show an understanding of that perspective, that is when you are set. Try and work with multiple stakeholders of the company. Talk not only to the marketing manager but also the supply chain manager, the operations manager, the person in charge of finance and so on. All of them will be able to provide you with different inputs and insights, and these will help make your final presentation more holistic.
11. The Big Picture: While making your presentation to the senior management keep in mind the bigger picture. You should be thorough with every nook and cranny details of your project, but unless asked to delve into it, you are not supposed to get everything out in front of upper management. Have answers to the bigger picture. So, not just details of what you are doing and how you are doing, but why are you doing it. For example, if your project is about managing media for a specific channel, you should obviously understand everything about the channel, but should also understand why did you not choose any other channel? Why is this channel a priority at all?
To conclude, we would like to re-emphasize that internship success requires motivation and a true desire to learn. Successful interns take the initiative to learn as much as possible during the short duration of their internship experience, and their eagerness shines through their work. Enter the office with eagerness, a positive attitude and a smile; and try and make the best of your short time with the company. As H. Jackson said, “If you are doing your best, you won’t have anytime to worry about failure”.
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