There is often more emphasis placed on getting the internship of your dreams than is placed on actually doing the internship. You know what I mean? People always get worked up in the actual application process.
Applicants like to talk about their past without having to talk about what they will do in the future–it’s easier. And even then, talk is just talk . Results are what really matters. Don’t get me wrong; getting an internship is hard. But it is what you do after you get an internship that counts.
So when I entered my internship this summer, I came in with really clear goals and an actionable plan for achieving those goals. I did not want to be a forgettable intern; I want to be the intern that the company cannot afford to lose after the summer.
In the very beginning of my internship this summer, I sat with the person “overseeing” my work and we went over goals (OKRs: Objective and Key Results). Every week I review those goals and make sure that every single thing I am doing is, in one way or another, helping me work toward those goals. These OKRs are not just for professional development, but also for personal development — things that will help me grow on all scales. Here are some of the general themes that you can take from my objectives. These are overarching ideas that best describe my goals.
Add as much value to the company as is possible for an intern
What that means to me is to do literally whatever it takes to help the company–even if that means learning new things that I am not exactly comfortable with or doing things that seem stupid . If it will help the company, I am there for them. I wake up earlier. I get to the office early. I stay late. I skip lunches. Whatever it takes to do my job and more is what I will do.
Why would I do such a thing? It may seem a bit irrational to do all of this extra work. After all, I am just an intern. Here is the key insight you need to have as an intern:
This is the one opportunity you may have in your life to gain allies while only spending 2 or 3 months, with little risk involved. You may never again have a supportive environment in which to ‘mess up’; you may never again be rewarded for trying.
The truth is that hard work does not go unnoticed. And as an intern, you want to be noticed. You want to be remembered (hopefully for something good). You literally want to do anything and everything you can to stick in someone’s mind.
Which brings me to my second point…
Go out of your way to meet people during your internship
I want to meet as many people as I can. And hopefully, with enough hard work, meet people that will vouch for me in the future.
So I made it one of my objectives to get lunch with at least one new person a week from within the company. This will be a great way to engage in conversation and learn more about people’s pasts and what they are looking for in the future. Also, it will help me work better and improve my team communication skills!
Be a curious and enthusiastic intern
I do not want to leave the summer only having completed my work — AKA the barebones.
I want to learn so, so much. And to do that I have to be methodical. To do that I have to be extremely straightforward with upper management and extremely transparent with my goals.
Because other employees are not sitting around brainstorming ways for me to learn. They are busy running a company! So it is on me and my personal initiative to set up extra meetings, talk to people in other departments, and work at the skills I need to grow.
That is how you optimize for learning — pushing your number of “asks” to the limit and always looking to challenge yourself.
I really hope people take these ideas seriously and apply them to your work in an internship or whatever capacity. Go out and do something big and people will not forget! (And, forward this to someone with an internship).