5 Things To Do During A Corporate Internship
An internship is your moment to get that resume point and work experience every recruiter in the town wants to see.
What exactly should you be doing during your internship? Is it good enough to just go with the flow and get work done as assigned, or is there something else to think about? Let’s find out!
Here’s my personal (neither exclusive or exhaustive) take what else you can do during your internship to make the best of the opportunity you have. I will be sharing some thoughts in relevance to the tech and consulting domains. However, many of these perspectives may be applicable to other industries too.
Please be mindful that the ideas shared here may not be applicable to all scenarios out there, and are limited to my own experiences and observations. That said, you can take them as another perspective which you can ponder about and pick the parts that you find relevant, useful, and applicable in your case.
P.S. I will try to keep the thoughts here in short bullet points to present a quick read. However, if you want to discuss further on any of them, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.
- An overused and overhyped word? Maybe, but it is what it is- Your network can prove to be extremely valuable in a lot of situations.
- Networking gives us visibility. It is not just about getting to know people who work there, but understanding how someone can help you in both personal and professional contexts. This is a two-way deal.
- Be a “Network Attractor”. Sometimes, just by showcasing yourself properly, you attract an audience towards you who might be interested in your work and experience.
- Get to know as many people as you can. Let them know you too. Be proactive. Take that extra step. It will be worth it.
- Connect with your co-workers and interns on LinkedIn.
- Remember, there’s probably a future CXO, a cofounder, an investor, a client, and so many others among you, right now.
2. Understanding Corporate Structure & Vision
- The structure of an organization gives us a lot of insights into how it is run. It also shapes our own thought process of how things work and could potentially influence the kind of corporate structure you would bring about in the firms you work with in the future or your own startup, years later.
- Take the example of a consulting firm like McKinsey, where there is no traditional HQ and the firm is led by a key managing partner. The structure followed here quite different from a tech company where you have the C-suite executives.
- Likewise, a coming of age remote tech startup might have a flat hierarchy different from other tech companies.
- Observe these organizational structures and processes and why they are designed as such.
3. Identifying Exit Trends & Opportunities
- Observe the attrition rate at the firm. Are people leaving frequently? If yes, why? You could even connect with such employees on LinkedIn and find out more insights.
- What are the employees who quit doing next? Where are they exiting to? This helps us understand the kind of opportunities that are accessible to someone who is leaving the firm. That could be the future version of yourself. Connecting with them can be extremely useful later to seek referrals or for collaboration too.
- Are exiting employees starting up? You might probably observe such a trend at firms like Google. What kind of startups are they building? Who are their investors? Any firm you associate with lends its brand value to your own profile. Those who have put faith in that brand in the past will generally be more approachable. All of this knowledge is always good to have.
- Is there any headhunting happening in the firm, where HR partners from another firm try to give counteroffers to prospective talents to come and work for them. What are the firms that are actively doing this?
- So, yeah, don’t forget to network with the people who are leaving the firm.
- Do observe the hiring trends in the company? Is it referral-driven? Do they hire people from non-target backgrounds for mid-level positions? This knowledge can help us elsewhere in guiding someone if not us, directly.
- One interesting thing about all these points is that all these trends can be observed just by being active on LinkedIn and connecting with the right people, even if you are not a part of that specific firm.
4. Asking Questions
- Asking good questions is a great way to establish your visibility at any place. It speaks for your proactiveness, curiosity, and willingness to explore something.
- I know, a lot of times we can be skeptical to ask something. We might wonder if the doubt we have is too dumb, or if it is something that people wouldn’t be comfortable answering for. It might be something you are not confident or clear with yourself. All that happens, and that is ok. I would recommend you to do your background research and prepare well-structured questions. Find a moment to ask them.
- Try to use tea breaks for this purpose. Be mindful of the topics you would want to discuss in such situations.
- You are most likely just a ping away from receiving a wealth of knowledge and experience from your co-workers as well as your senior leaders. You never know.
- Just remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is always a NO.
5. Going above & beyond
- Most internship programs follow a certain structure. You may have some fun activities, team events, and talks from leadership, and then you will have your actual work assignment. You have your mentors, your project leads, and so forth. Don’t forget that there is a huge world out there beyond this bubble.
- If we just follow a structure and do what everyone else is doing, it doesn’t make us stand out, right? Even that’s ok depending on one’s priorities.
- If you want to go above and beyond, do plan ahead with the teams beyond your own team that you want to interact with, the curiosity you would want to express and all the information and knowledge you seek.
- Time management becomes critical in this aspect as you have to do all that others are doing and have your own initiatives on top of that.
The End Notes
One thing you might be targeting would be the PPO. While there is a certain structure and previous year trends you can follow to convert the internship to a PPO, it is also important to be mindful about what you actually want to do. Having a safety net is great but if you have the privilege to not worry about it, I would recommend dealing with it in your own individual style.
A few things to keep in mind-
- Don’t be hesitant to seek help and guidance from your mentors when something doesn’t appear clear or you feel stuck. Prompt communication really helps and in most cases, no one will be judging you. Your willingness to learn and collaborate is reflected when you are proactive like that. We all have been through similar experiences.
- There is no such thing as a silly or dumb question. We often form perceptions like our doubt is something that everyone is expected to know. Never be hesitant to ask, no matter how you feel about it. We are here to learn, and we are not expected to be the experts. Stay chill and try to learn as much as you can.
- Sometimes, we can get stressed or overwhelmed when we feel like our co-interns are racing faster than us. Surely, there will be some sort of competitive atmosphere and comparisons happening in our minds. My suggestion would be to observe and learn from everyone but prioritize ourselves. If we are doing better than yesterday, that's a good sign. Seek feedback and try to understand what you can do differently.
- Soft skills matter and the most important of all are communication skills.
That said, all the best for your internship! May the force be with you!