For students looking to clinch that ideal job, landing an internship can bring you closer to your goal. But securing that sought-after internship is only half the battle. Leaving a mark on the company, other interns, and key managers could mean the difference between future employment and an arduous job search.
While school career counselors, mentors, and human resource professionals can all provide useful advice on what makes an outstanding intern, thereâs nothing more powerful than advice straight from the managers and executives who work with and potentially hire interns. BlackEnterprise.com spoke with executives about exemplary interns:
TEAM PLAYERS WANTED
Sure, an internship can feel more like a competition than an actual job, especially if you or your peers are hoping to make that temporary position permanent. Yet competing with your fellow interns and even colleagues, instead of working together can be the downfall of a promising experience, says Ed Welburn, vice president of global design at General Motors . â[For some of our interns] itâs not easy for them to accept ideas from others.â In GMâs design internship, which consists of a 10-week team project where students develop ideas and concepts for future GM vehicles, being a wallflower or dictator wonât bode well for the teamâs success.
Welburn says the most memorable group of interns were able to blend ideas for a new concept for GMâs Hummer. âThe creativity was amazing. They pooled all their ideas for the interior and the exterior of the Hummer. They found out where their real strengths were and were able to play on that,â Welburn says.
HANDLING IT ALONE
When Shakara Bridgersâ mother passed away, the chief operating officer ofÂ Get âEm Girl Inc., along with the other managers had to leave town to attend the funeral. A lifestyle brand that houses a catering service, a series of cookbooks, and hosts events, the nucleus of the company is its Website, which needed to be maintained while the team traveled to the funeral. Thatâs where the intern came in. âJust the fact that we were able to go away and know this person could keep up the Website made an impact,â says Bridgers.
Learning the ins and outs of a company and understanding the daily tasks can make any intern a pinch-hitter in a time of need. Though interns may second guess themselves, itâs imperative to put any fears to the side. Mangers look for leadership in their workers.
PART OF THE SOLUTION
A business cannot thrive on complaints. Rather, it takes solutions to create change or at least move towards progress. And solutions are exactly what Faith Taylor looks for in her interns.
âTake the effort to find out additional needs of the company,â says Taylor, worldwide vice president of sustainability and innovation at Wyndam Worldwide, a hospitality company. âDevelop solutions for them. Be a self-starter.â
For many companies looking to drive the bottom line and cut costs, looking for more efficiencies allows you to become an asset. Though Taylorâs interns are responsible for developing content for Wyndamâs Green Program, one of the interns took it a step further developing a Website for the green executive. âWork on projects that add value for the company,â Taylor says.
PUTTING SELF FIRST
Too often interns are so concerned about how their efforts can help the company they forget to understand their personal and professional needs. But internships are called learning experiences for a reason. Donât start a gig without writing out what you expect to gain from the job, Bridgers says. Create a goals list detailing your strengths and weaknesses, and what you hope to improve upon and learn during your tenure. Most importantly, take the time to share this goals list with your direct supervisor, ensuring youâre both in accordance.
Bridgers also recommends keeping a diary to track your progress, either daily or weekly. âMake sure you get what you want out of the internship,â she adds.