Making the Most of Your Internship Experience

Najifa Hossain -- October 17th, 2020

Whether your main goal is to network, get class credit, make money, or add to your resume, there is no doubt that internships provide a valuable way to gain hands-on experience in a professional environment. The perks of interning in the field you want a career in revolve around two main concepts: As an intern, you have direct access to problem-solving tools that are not typically available in a traditional classroom setting, and your position grants you flexibility and time to learn and receive support on projects.

Whether you intern in a corporate office or early-stage startup, there may be more resources available to you than you think. Because any experience is what you make it, having a holistic internship is a decision made by both your employer and you. Finding opportunities, being adaptable and open to learning, and taking initiative may not be included in the job description, but they are important supplementary benefits that can help you make the most of your internship. Here are four of the most effective ways you can grow your skills as an intern and guide your own success:

Upskilling Workshops

Workshops are a seamless way to learn the basics of different tools and methods used within departments. Each time you see an opportunity to familiarize yourself with a basic skill, you see a way to add value to your internship experience. If your department offers upskilling workshops for tools or concepts you don’t directly work with, it’s still beneficial to sit in and learn them. The value of an internship experience doesn’t need to be measured by what you learned pertaining to your career choice; it’s better measured by what you learn overall. Relevant or not, if it’s useful and you have something to gain from it, stop by and check it out. Depending on the company size and structure, there may even be opportunities to host your own workshop. At Seedstages, interns have the liberty to plan and present their own workshop within their department for a skill they know well, which are open to all staff.


Mentorship

Regardless of company size or structure, internships always double as mentorship opportunities. Developing strong relationships with your supervisor, team leads, and project managers is a crucial step in building enough trust and acquaintanceship to work one-on-one with them. As your overseers, their role is to guide you, but being proactive with your work and consulting them for advice and feedback will naturally set the pace for a mentor relationship from which you can learn how to do things using their expert opinion and historical insights.


Cross-Departmental Engagement

When working with smaller companies in particular, cross-departmental engagement is a valuable and unique opportunity. As a business developer, for example, sitting in on financial and data analytics meetings immediately exposes you to the details of the work that department does in real time. Because you can see problems being solved in action, the first-hand insights you can gain from this type of exposure are great ways to indirectly learn new information and have a well-rounded working knowledge of the industry you work in. This concept is especially beneficial when working with a startup because other team members and departments are more accessible. With time and curiosity, you can develop cross-functional and interdisciplinary skillsets.  


Spearheading Projects

Whenever you see a project that piques your interest, it will never hurt you to speak up. There may be some skills you would like to master—not just be familiar with. Reach out to whoever is overseeing or delegating the project and ask if you can be more involved. If these people are too far out of your direct reach, talk to your supervisor. Let them know what you’re interested in—chances are, if you’re already a good worker, they’ll be all the more inclined to help you when they see opportunities for you to take initiative. The stronger of a relationship you build with your work and the people you work with, the more reliable and reputable you will be perceived. The confidence to take charge will come to you naturally, and you’ll feel more prepared when tackling new initiatives. The benefit, however, comes from the intent—you have to go into your role with the desire to be a leader when you can. 

Takeaway

As an intern, you’ll likely have a set list of duties and responsibilities given to you on day one. To make the most of your experience, however, it’s important to go above and beyond by building relationships with your coworkers and managers, taking leadership initiatives, and staying curious. Not only will you leave with more knowledge and experience, but you’ll be familiar with skills and concepts that will undoubtedly give you a competitive edge and nurture you into a more resilient and openminded worker as you enter the workforce.  

Landing a Job During COVID-19

Austin Foley -- October 11th, 2020

With COVID-19 causing absolute chaos to the job market, plenty of people have lost their jobs to the pandemic. This increase in the number of people that are currently unemployed will undoubtedly affect the upcoming graduating class at universities.

With the current situation continually changing, how can you put yourself in the best position to land a job? You can do an abundance of things to stay ahead of your competition to achieve your employment goals!

Here are some tips to get a competitive edge:

Create an Excellent LinkedIn Profile

Having a LinkedIn profile as early as soon as possible can be a huge benefit. Showing information such as where you attended school, extra-curricular activities, awards or accolades, skills, what fields you are interested in pursuing, and your entire work history. Even if you have only worked a job at your local McDonald’s, it will show off many soft skills that can translate to your career. As time goes on, you can remove the less relevant experiences to replace with new skills and internships/jobs. Besides, who was ever against having a humble beginning!

The perks to having a LinkedIn profile are the ability to build connections fast, showing off your skills, search and apply for jobs, and building your brand. Also, LinkedIn allows you to join groups either for your university or field of interest. This platform can help kickstart your career!

Start Networking as Soon as Possible

Networking is one of the most effective ways to secure a job. The best way is to reach out to contacts for information and advice instead of asking people to hire you. Try to contact as many professionals as possible to maximize your chance to learn and know more people. Get ahold of alumni associations, your university’s career office, networking events, and previous employers. This is where having a top-tier LinkedIn profile can help get your foot in the door with these connections!

Join Professional Group(s)

Joining an organization related to your field or industry as a student member if you are still in college or as a professional member after you graduate can help you to get experience outside of having an internship. These are easy to find, and they typically host conferences or events where you can meet others in the industry. This leads to learning, connecting, and potentially the chance to find a mentor.

Use your Career Center as a Resource

While attending or recently graduating from your college or university, it’s essential to use the available resources to discuss your options with the career office and meet with a career advisor. These resources can help with your goals, developing resumes/cover letters, interview preparation, and formulating a job search plan. They can also connect you with alumni who work in your desired field, which will help you in your journey to get a job. Take advantage of an underused resource on campus!

Get Involved with Internships

Internships can be valuable in increasing one’s chance of further employment. Creating new experiences and skills from these internships allows for people to have plenty to talk about with recruiters and hiring managers. Also, experiences can help build confidence amongst college students when competing for future jobs and internships. There are tons of platforms to find these opportunities, including a company like Seedstages, a platform that efficiently matches students with startups.

Takeaway

Finding ways to get ahead of the pack is critical in this current environment, so take advantage of the time and prepare for success!