This is the second article in The Internship Chronicles series, where Slate Intern-to-Full-Time employee, Bailey Hand, shares her internship experiences and advice. Click here to read the first article – Finding and Securing an Internship.
Preparing for your new opportunity
Woohoo! You’ve succeeded in securing an internship and now it’s time to make the most of it.
Before your first day, there are a few things I would recommend. First, research the company you’ll be starting at and the team you will be working with. To feel confident going into your new role, you’ll want to get a head start into knowing the company, their mission, values, and product or service inside and out. I would also recommend looking into the industry they’re a part of and some of their competitors. This will give you a strong foundation to move quickly into the first projects you’ll be working on. You should also take the time to get familiar with the names and faces you will be working with each day. Getting to know the people you work with is extremely beneficial but with internships generally being only a few months it can be hard to keep up with all the new connections you’re making. Feel free to shoot your point of contact a note asking for a list of people you will be working with, or do a quick LinkedIn search to find out more about your team. This is a great way to learn about your team until you start working alongside them!
In addition to researching your new company and team, you should also invest time into getting to know more about your roles and responsibilities. Reach out to your point of contact and ask for more details about the projects and tasks you will be working on, along with any programs you will be working in, if you haven’t already received this information. After looking over the details, familiarize yourself with any programs, tools, or applications that you haven’t previously worked with. There’s no need to go too in-depth with this – just enough to where you feel comfortable knowing what the tools do from a high-level. After this, dive more into your responsibilities and start brainstorming ideas you have. You won’t be expected to have these fleshed out but it shows your team that you are invested in the company and are driven to make an impact during your time there!
During your internship
As an intern, you have an amazing opportunity to explore your likes and dislikes before moving onto more permanent positions. Before interning at Slate, I interned at another company. The first piece of advice my manager gave me was to “Be a Sponge”. You should always create opportunities to learn and to develop your skillset. This could entail working on projects that are outside of your wheelhouse or setting up meetings with team members to learn about their responsibilities and career path. Meeting with co-workers is also a natural way to build out your network for the future. Regardless if you end up working full-time for them in the future, you can gain invaluable advice and skills through approaching your internship as a full-time learning opportunity.
Many times interns can feel like they aren’t able to have an immediate impact. I would encourage you to identify gaps or areas of improvement within your team or the broader company that you can be an asset. Bring solutions for these projects to your manager and develop a plan for your ideas to come to fruition. This will show your team that you are a self-starter and can problem-solve independently which is an incredible quality for any team member to have. Many people say that internships are long-term job interviews. With this mindset, you’ll be able to solidify yourself as a valuable employee at the company.
One problem that I came across as an intern was struggling to find my identity within my team and the company as a whole, which is something that I think many people experience. AJ Camara, one of my dearest “work” friends and Slate’s Senior Enterprise Account Executive, one time said to me, “It doesn’t matter the age or seniority, everyone can be a leader.” I hope this piece of advice encourages you as much as it does me. As a society we have a tendency to place leaders in the same category as those who make the big decisions. I want to challenge you to view how you interact with your team as a way to establish yourself as a natural leader. Bringing positivity and encouragement to all your interactions and sharing thoughtful insights in discussion is a great way to start developing your leadership skills for the future.
If you found this helpful, be sure to follow Slate on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and LinkedIn where you can stay up to date on the next of this series coming out and learn more about social media marketing, the skills you need to succeed and how to navigate your way through building your career!