Learn to add value immediately – even if it means getting the coffee
You only have a short time to make an impact, so finding quick ways to add value is essential. Before you begin your internship, think about things you could do to help the team at any given point – this could include saving people time, doing tasks that no one else wants to do or bringing something different to the table.
Start with the things that you are comfortable with doing – even if it means getting the coffee or ordering lunches. Completing even the smallest tasks gives you a chance to make a positive contribution, helps you meet other people and shows that you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves to help the team.
Know your unique strengths and skills
In order to add value to an organization, you need to have a good understanding of your strengths. Before starting your summer internship, think about what skills you have to bring to the table and how you can leverage them to best help the organization.
Ask yourself what you’re good at, or what things people often ask you to do. Take this exercise one step further by identifying skills that you do extremely well and that differentiate you from others. Showcasing your unique skills will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
Network, network, network
Although it’s cliché, this advice never grows old. You only have a few short months to succeed in your position, and you’re not going to be able to do it alone. You’ll undoubtedly need to work with your peers on some aspect of your summer project. And at the end of the summer, you’ll need people who will advocate for you and your work.
Build a network of sponsors and mentors who will help guide your professional growth throughout your internship. A mentor is a confidante who will help guide you on the road to success and share advice about a company’s people, processes and roles. A sponsor is someone with direct experience managing you or seeing you in action. Their reference or recommendation can help you secure advancement and growth opportunities.
By Alex Dea (MBA ’15), consultant and co-founder of MBASchooled, with Kristen Chung (BSBA ’17)