Your Summer Internship
A quick note: if you’ve made your way over here from thefacebook.com, look me up on U of M’s campus. Another quick note: the new Coldplay album is unbelievably great.
Anyways, its that time again. Finals are over, the birds and the bees are falling in love, and you’re a few weeks into your summer internship. For would-be (or soon-to-be) entrepreneurs, a first internship can be either an amazingly good exposure to the excitement of business, or an oppressively mundane few months of data entry and coffee shop runs. As with all things in the entrepreneurial spirit, you alone set the limits on how far you can go. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your internship if you have that dream of starting a business some day.
** Get a clear understanding of your goals for the summer: Sure, you have day to day tasks, but have you been given a summer goal? Being able to set and reach goals is a critical part of entrepreneurship, and you should have a clear idea of what your contributions mean to your company.
** Ask for as much guidance as possible: You’re not the expert, and you’re not supposed to know everything – that’s why its called an internship. Don’t just ask how to do something, ask how to do it better. Ask why things are done the way they are. This is your chance to see how a real company works, so learn as much as you can from their practices.
** Seek out a mentor: You will undoubtedly be assigned a “boss,” but you do not have to limit yourself to his or her wisdom. Try to talk to everyone and learn about what they do. If you work hard and show a genuine interest in the company, but humble yourself to the expertise of those with more experience, you will find someone who is only too willing to share some of their wisdom.
** Get ready to pop the question: “Would you be a future reference for me?” It might feel harder than asking your true love for her hand, but its better to bring it up when your accomplishments are fresh in your boss’s mind. In fact, run your resume by him or her at the end of the summer and show them the bullet points you’re listing as accomplishments at this internship. It slightly irked me when I would get a call from someone with whom I’d not spoken for a year or two, and they asked me for a recommendation and “advised” me on what to say. The best recommendation I’ve given was for someone whom I’d fired, but who was clear about what they hoped I’d be able to recommend about them.