It's the middle of summer and you're in the thick of your internship. It's time to assess how things are going.
It can be difficult to take a step back and evaluate your progress, but Facebook’s head of University Diversity Recruiting, Oscar Perez, and Intern Queen CEO Lauren Berger, say there are a few ways to take stock of where you stand halfway through the semester.
Berger took on 15 internships during college and has since spent a decade as the “Intern Queen,” connecting students with similar opportunities. Perez began his career as a high school English teacher through “Teach for America” and now works to bring diverse intern classes to Facebook each semester.
Combined, they’ve managed thousands of young professionals and know exactly how successful interns should spend their limited time at a company. Here are their top recommendations:
Many internship programs don’t necessarily schedule evaluations for you — at least, not until the end. So it falls on the intern to reach out and set up time to inquire about their performance. Listening to critiques is far more beneficial now than it will be on your last day.
“So many students get feedback at the end of their internship and they can’t do anything with it,” Berger tells CNBC Make It. “They say to themselves ‘Gee I really wish I had this feedback four weeks ago. I really could've shown the company how I can turn that around.’ "
For a few short months you’re in the unique position of being surrounded by a plethora of professionals and experts that may be doing exactly what you want to do.
At a 10-person operation like Intern Queen, it's easy to get to know everyone in the office. In fact, it's required. Every semester, Berger’s two interns are required to schedule a 15-minute conversation or coffee with each of their fellow colleagues before the end of the semester.
Most places don’t maintain a strict standard, but Perez does give one piece of advice to Facebook interns who want to schedule coffee runs with the full-time employees around them.
“It's important when you ask for time, have at least three to four bullet points of how you think this meeting will benefit for you,” Perez explains. “When you actually take the time to bullet it out, it makes the ask a little less intimidating... It makes it a little less awkward and helps the person on the other side to be like ‘Oh yeah, I do have expertise in this and I’d be willing to help you if it's something that you’re asking for.’ "
Perez says that while the awkwardness of networking never truly goes away, it's important to be bold enough to realize the direct advantage of it, especially when time is limited.
Internships can fly by and leave you looking back not quite able to remember the details of all your day to day activities. That’s why Berger recommends her interns email themselves what they have accomplished at the end of each day.
The running record of your contributions will help job your memory during the job hunt.
“This is going to help them write a very unique and specific cover letter, and its also going to help drive the items they put on their resume,” Berger says.
By this point in your internship, you’ve probably settled into a morning routine and gained a solid understanding of your work environment. But just because you’re comfortable doesn’t mean you can let up your efforts.
Berger says the midway point in the semester is when she starts receiving early-morning text messages asking for time off, seeing flip flops worn around the office and catching interns on social media during the work day.
“On day 20, you need to be bringing the same A-game forward that you did on day one,” Berger says. “There should be no difference there. Make sure you’re being just as polite, just as eager, just as ambitious.”
An internship is a two-way street. While your manager is evaluating how you fit into a team, you should be assessing your own feelings toward the work you’re doing and the company’s culture.
You may not love everything you do throughout your internship, so it's important to distinguish the tasks you were passionate about from the ones you were less invested in. That information will help guide your next job or internship preferences.
If it turns out your internship is completely out of line with your career path, it's okay to be honest with your director and see what adjustments can be made.
“We want people to be able to think through that, be able to feel through that, but also be really proactive about, 'what does that mean for me and how do I make the best of the next six weeks?'” Perez says. “If you’re in the face of an identity crises, your manager can help you, but it's also not helpful if you throw your hands up in the air and say, 'I’m not going to get anything out of this because I’ve made a decision halfway through.'”
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