Internships 101: Make your boss's job easier

Internships are a direct pathway to employment. The right internship in my opinion is a golden ticket bundled in opportunity. Getting internships can be difficult for a variety of reasons: network, experience, school reputation, academic standing etc, but I'm confident you can find a way.

After you secure an internship, regardless of the company, the project, or the team, your #1 job as an intern is to make your boss's job easier. Often times the duration of internships work against you, most are usually anywhere from 8-12 weeks. In my experience regardless of the scope of the project, or the problem you are solving the best way to approach the internship is making your boss's job easier.

This is obviously accomplished by doing a good job with the project but the interns that are really remembered are the ones that have mastered a few skills: (1) critically listening (2) CREATE-ivity (3) Value-out-of-scope and (4) being genuinely helpful. It's important to remember that these are really the soft skills that anyone can work on. Use these skills to make your boss's job easier.

Critically listening. My Mom used to tell me as a child that "I'd hear her but that I wasn't listening to her."  This stuck with me as a child and I learned that often times people (including myself) have conversations with themselves, meaning they aren't really talking "to you" but talking "at you". As an intern critical listening skills will allow you to know where you can provide additional assistance and add value. You'll also be able to anticipate needs as they come up because you've been diligently listening. Don't think you know everything because you usually don't.

CREATE-ivity. One of the best things about being an intern is that you bring fresh ideas to the organization. Use this. One example is to think about the product or service and how it could impact your life and the people lives around you (e.g., family/friends, distance cousins, neighbors etc). Draw on your speculative imagination and use it to envision the product or service being used by them. After you've done that, CREATE a way for the organization to keep your unique perspective in mind, this can be by way of a document, framework, or a decision tree. This helps the org see what you saw and can be reused long after you're gone.

Value-out-of-scope. You are an intern, and you are likely hired to do a project and to allow the team to assess your skills, but can you add value to the lives of the people you work with outside the scope of your internship? In most internships you are younger than most and/or have experiences that may differ from those working around you. Add value here. Talk about your experiences that often times may apply to your co-workers kids, nieces/nephews etc. How you would go about applying to colleges? what are the best majors right now? etc. You aren't just an intern but a colleague, this is where you can connect on an emotional level and add value out of the scope of your internship.

Genuine helpfulness. Let's say your internship is going horribly wrong...which of course can happen for a variety of reasons. At this point, it's good to revisit the above soft skills and find ways in which you can still be of service to the team and your boss. Helping your boss with tasks that they may not have realized were left to do, or doing things that no one on the team wants to do. It's an understatement to say that making the lives of people around you easier is a skill that gets you hired.

Take all of these with a grain of salt as all are from my unique experiences, but again just make your boss's job easier.