How to Succeed In Your Summer Internship
April 25, 2023
By: Annette Yang
Congrats! You’ve secured a summer internship! Now what?
Courtesy of Intern Queen
Know Your "Why"
While getting the job may seem like the hard part of this whole internship recruiting thing, it’s just as important to make the most out of your time working for your team and company. This way, you:
Get the most out of the time and work you put in
Understand what you’ve accomplished during your internship
I have to admit that in several of my past internships, I started off super excited about the opportunities, but after a few days of working, started to feel more apathetic about the work. I already got the job, so isn’t that what matters? Looking back, I realized that I was not only wasting my time and resources, but I was also making an unfavorable impression, not learning, and overall came out of the experience confused as to what I even did during the internship. So, to avoid making these mistakes, I would suggest considering the following tips and incorporating them during your upcoming internship.
Your First Day
It’s your first day. Your calendar is fully booked with meetings with dozens of unfamiliar faces and you will probably have no clue what the hell is going on. Write it all down. Listen proactively. Ask questions.
I remember countless times being afraid to ask questions, as I didn't want to be a nuisance to all the senior people on my team who definitely had a lot on their plate already. I wanted to do everything successfully while causing as little disturbance to my team as possible. But your team wants you to ask questions and is there to support you and help you in your success. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn and be able to show off by the end of your term.
Most likely, you will also be booked in a lot of 1:1 meetings to get familiar with everyone on your team. This might seem, again, daunting, awkward, and anxiety-inducing. But, at the end of the day, you're only working at this company for around 3 months. You might as well squeeze the networking dry while you can. I suggest practicing your elevator pitch prior to your internship so you know exactly how to introduce yourself. You're going to have to do it hundreds of times during your first week after all.
Courtesy of Career Addict
Let's be friends. Best friends!
I also suggest befriending your fellow interns! Although your team will look different depending on where you work, most likely you will have another intern either on your team or working in adjacent teams. And work is always more fun with friends, especially those near the same age as you and in a similar stage at the professional level. The more friends you have in the future the better because it's very likely you will end up working together again either in the same company if you both return, or you will build a close network of people in different places. All in all, it's great to build strong relationships and it makes interning way more fun!
Moving on from the intern level, try to be as proactive as you can to reach out to people who are in more senior positions. Introduce yourself and put your name out there. Although this may seem daunting at first, especially being an intern and probably the youngest in the room, this will pay off. On a more logistic end, it's beneficial because more people can vouch for you when the time comes to discuss a potential return offer. And as discussed, you never know when, where, or how you will end up running into the same people again. The world is smaller than you think! And lastly, if you ever become interested in learning about something new or potentially joining a different team along the line, these connections will be a launchpad for you to successfully get to where you want to be.
Okay, I need to network and be proactive, we've all heard it before. But something I want to really emphasize that I don't think people talk about too much is keeping track. Every week, I suggest writing down exactly what you did that week. Write down your mistakes, your successes, the people you met, etc. Keep note of everything. This is going to come in handy during those weekly meetings with your supervisor/manager because you will be prepared to share what you accomplished that week and also work with your manager to navigate any challenges or doubts.
Considering the long-term, however, these notes and tracking may just play a big role when it comes to discussions about a potential return offer. Internships get busy and time passes faster than you'd think. So, you may just forget something you did during week 7 that actually showcased a lot of strong leadership. And that something may be crucial to convince your company to want to bring you back. Since you never know what the stakes are, I would just play it safe and keep all of these notes organized somewhere so you can easily refer to them.
Do what you love, Love what you do
While we all know that at the end of the day, a job is just a job, you still don't want to be miserable. The point is, work should be enjoyable or at least something you're interested in or passionate about to some degree. Luckily, when you're just an intern, you're not stuck at the job forever. While it's also important to contribute good work, it's also an opportunity to learn if this is something you actually see yourself doing in the future.
You may love the work you do at your internship. More likely, you'll love some aspects and hate some aspects of it. This is all helpful since it'll help you learn more about yourself and what kind of work you want to do in the future. For example, you may start off in a creative marketing internship, realize you like the numbers side of it and hate the creative side of it. So, the next internship you take afterward will be a position focused on data analytics & marketing, not creative marketing. This is also where networking will be super helpful since you can connect with people in different roles and learn more about their jobs! You may even get a referral to a different team/project that is more aligned with your interests!
Most likely, you've heard the common behavioral interview question: tell me about a time you made a mistake. Since we're all in college, most likely we haven't made any huge mistakes at work. Maybe you pissed off a customer during the retail job you worked in high school. Considering this, making a mistake during an internship can honestly seem like the end of the world. I suggest remembering that your aim during your internship should not be to be perfect but to learn. Making mistakes is no doubt going to help push you out of your comfort zone to adapt, learn, and grow. Also, no way your company is going to put so much responsibility in your (an intern's) hands to allow you to f*** up that bad. You'll recover from it, and guess what-- you'll have a good answer the next time someone asks you to talk about a time you made a mistake!
But if you're reading this blog, I'm already confident you'll do great this summer. Good luck!
Annette Yang is the 22-23 Content Director. She's a Junior studying MCC, Business, and Data Science. Check out her other blogs, podcasts, and videos on the MKTSOC blog, or connect with her on LinkedIn.