Written by guest blogger: Jessica Newcomb, Assistant Director, Graduate Business Career Services, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” What a succinct and striking piece of advice that rings true in many life situations. You can never go wrong by focusing on the opportunities in front of you. However, many students have completed 4 or 5 weeks of their internship by now, and some are finding themselves looking around and thinking that other interns were given better projects or are somehow having a better experience. If that statement describes you, consider taking these steps to turn it around.
1. Reach out to other interns. Ask how they approach their supervisor and continue to make connections in other areas. Remember that you don’t necessarily know about the backgrounds and unique skill sets of the other interns.
2. Talk to your supervisor. Do not throw up your hands and resign yourself to spending all of your time on the internet or looking out of a window. Instead, make a commitment to yourself and take a personal leadership role. Suggest ways to expand what you are doing or offer to take on another project. Describe your skills in better detail, and your supervisor will likely learn something he/she didn’t know before.
3. Find out what training exists. Ideally, you are aware of training programs for interns at your company. You may be currently pursuing that training or have completed an onboarding process of some kind. If that is not true for you and you are wondering how you might plug into opportunities, ask your supervisor or others in your department, area, or company. Take advantage of everything the company has to offer because the internship will be over before you know it.
4. Be a voracious reader. Read business journals and articles and seek out additional knowledge that can help you in your full-time job search. Be aware of trends in your industry, growing companies, and keep looking where others are not. Find materials written by leaders in your field or great business leaders in general.
5. Reconnect with your career coach. Contrary to popular belief, career services office are open for business over the summer. While a lot of planning is underway for the upcoming year, we are still here to answer questions and offer advice.
6. Look ahead. You may not want to work at the company for which you are interning. Even if you want to work there, they may not extend a full-time offer for a variety of reasons. Take advantage of being in a new city to meet with contacts and gain insight on where you might head next, and keep your ear to the ground for opportunities you may not have considered before.
7. Offer to be helpful. This point applies to contacts within your internship employer and outside of that company. Everyone is attracted to the person who offers to take something off their plate or contribute in a meaningful and unexpected way.
8. Develop a new skill or ability. Don’t leave things hanging out there on your future “to do” list. Get busy now making sure that you are ready for the job that you want. Self-assess and talk to others who are successful in your area.
If you find yourself feeling a little lackluster about your internship experience, remember that you have a lot of control over that experience. Be proactive and make the most of your internship experience.