So it’s the end of the 4th of July work week, and for most college students, you’re a little over halfway in to your summer internship / job experience. While the start of college may still seem far away, it’s coming, and it’s coming fast.
As you begin your final 6-8 week push, it’s important to do a midpoint assessment and consider the following 5 key questions to help you finish strong and focused.
1. Am I taking full advantage of the opportunity provided?
Often at the beginning of the semester, I’ll sit with students and discuss how their internships / summer jobs were. Routinely, I’ll hear things like – it was ok, but they didn’t give me much to do. I’ll be honest, this drives me nuts. I often equate this to a trust element (see #4).
You’ve had 8 weeks to prove your value, your work ethic, and your abilities. It may not seem like much time, but if you’re truly going above and beyond in your interactions, your enthusiasm to learn, and your willingness to push…. The opportunity is there.
2. What have I learned thus far (about the org. & myself)?
This one directly connects with #1, as some say, well I haven’t really learned anything because I haven’t been doing much…. Again – garbage response.
You’re working for someone or some organization, and you're figuring out your place and passions.
Learn about their policies and procedures... and why they are in place.
Research their mission statements, values, and internal hr practices for hiring and evaluations.
Try to break down and fully understand their organizational structure, key metrics, unique selling proposition, market value, competitors, and the list goes on.
You’re in a position to take what you’ve been discussing in class, and finally have a lens to look through.
If you’ve done all these things, then start writing about your experiences.
What do you think works for them?
How do they interact with one another, and with their clients, and how does this impact their business?
How are they generating revenue and keeping the doors open? – often this is one of the most profound questions that most students can never answer.
3. Am I a value add for the organization and do they trust me?
This is one of those self-reflective components that most college students can’t be honest about, or sometimes struggle to fully analyze. Companies hire people who hopefully can provide value to them.
Providing value, and the opportunity to work on projects, take on new tasks, and push further within the structure of the company depends on their trust in you.
Some might say, “well they are never around, or they aren’t really teaching me what I need to know.”
My question is whether or not this is because they really haven’t seen enough, or you haven’t developed a rapport or wow factor with your work or personality enough for them to trust you.
I never pass on work to people I don’t trust, or I don’t see a fire to learn, or to get better, or push outside the box. If you didn’t set this one up the first 8 weeks, you’ve got a lot of work to do.
4. Have I built solid relationships with the people I work with?
Let’s face it, one of, if not the most important part of internships and summer employment is building relationships. It’s key for your future, and for creating opportunities for yourself. BUT, this comes down to whether you focus on building relationships as part of your everyday tasks.
Are you taking different people out for coffee every week?
Did you bring in morning donuts on a Friday, or did you take your coworkers out to lunch and thank them for allowing you to help them?
Are you going to every event that you’ve been invited to during or after work (lunch, beverages, get togethers, etc).
Are you conscious about your body language, your tone, your energy – all those “little things” that I stress to every single student, that are really the big things when it comes to breaking down barriers and truly building solid relationships.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have time (or don’t think you have time), figure it out, it’s important.
5. Have I gone above and beyond every day to leave an impact?
From start to finish, clock in to clock out, have you left a mark thus far that when your final week comes, they are scrambling to figure out a way to try to either keep you, or lock you down for when you are finished with school?
While a full time job may not always be feasible, I 100% believe that your job is to make yourself irreplaceable from a value standpoint.
Make it so your presence, your energy, your positivity, your work ethic, - ALL OF THE ABOVE, is so unbelievable that you make an impact that they know is making their organization better, and something that they don’t want to lost.
Some of you might be reading this and saying, yeah, but I didn’t really like it, and it hasn’t been a good experience. Hogwash.
I’ll be honest, I don’t care if you don't like it, or it isn't as exciting as you had hoped, blah blah blah….. It’s learning time, and every day is an opportunity to get better, and positively impact other people, NO MATTER
WHAT YOU’RE DOING.
(Seriously, I cleaned recycling dumpsters for 3 summers...I literally put on a silver suit with a mask, and jumped in with a power washer...... and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. Don't believe me - ask Nate Turner, he saw the aftermath of me picking glass out of my feet every night - HA!)
Internships are pathways to figure out your passions, learn more about yourself, the external world, how you add value to other people, and soooooo much more.
Get your attitude right and your work ethic on point, and make the most of what little time you have left. These experiences are integral to your development, so make sure you are thankful everyday for the opportunity, no matter what it looks or feels like right now.