Making the Most Out of Your Internship
How to get More Out of Your internship Outside of Your Typical Roles + Responsibilities
Over the last four years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have held internships across various industries and companies from American Red Cross, California Science Center, Adobe, to most recently, Lyft. As an intern, there were several key takeaways that I was able to apply to make the most out of my internship beyond my typical roles and responsibilities.
Meet People within the Company through Coffee Chats
The easiest and quickest way to learn more about the culture of your company and to be integrated in is by meeting and interacting with the people through coffee chats. More often than not, people love to share stories about themselves and meet interns. Some questions I usually ask in these 30 minute coffee chats (that can be applied across various roles) include: What does a typical day look like for you? How did you get to where you are today? What are some tips that you would recommend for someone who wants to be in a position like yours in the future? These chats can also help you understand how everyone’s roles comes together to serve the greater purpose of the company.
Here’s a sample of a usual coffee chat request that I would send through email:
I’m a (internship position) and am working under the (team). I would love to get to know more about you and your position. I was wondering if you have 30 minutes to spare, so we can schedule a time to chat. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!
Go to Company Related Events
If your company has a lot of speaker series like Adobe did, I would highly advise you to attend them. Take time out of your typical day to day to change it up a bit. You will be exposed to things outside of the scope of your own internship role/project and get some insider knowledge (that isn’t always publicized to the general public). And of course, take advantage of all of the fun events happening as well, whether they’re intern socials or employee outings.
Share Your Professional Growth with Your Manager
From day one, I told my manager the areas that I wanted to improve on. The point of an internship is to discover the things you like as well dislike and give you a preliminary understanding of what a full time position may look like. Establish one on one meetings with your manager, i.e. on a weekly or biweekly cadence. By being transparent in my one on ones on the areas that I wanted to develop on, I was able to work on projects that I was passionate about and brought me closer to my professional goals. These meetings are also a great constant stream of feedback between you and your manager.
Find a Mentor
As you navigate through your internship, whether it’s your first or your fifth, it is always nice to have a mentor who can provide you guidance through it all. Find your council of mentors/ advisors, who you can refer to. Seek someone in your company that you are comfortable with or you can get an outsider perspective by seeking the advice from a BUILT BY GIRLS Advisor.
A lot of industries are fast and constantly changing, and you have to pivot with them. Be willing to be flexible and to do things outside of what you are expected of (in your role). It only shows that you are all the more willing to learn from your team.
Keep In Touch
With all said and done, as you wrap up your internship and part way, keep in touch with the people you met. You never know if that’s the company you will go back to in the future or if they can later lead you to your future job.