How to Succeed in Your First Tech Internship
When working an internship, it is very easy to put a ceiling on your growth. The word “intern” may imply that your contribution is merely temporary – that you aren’t capable of making a lasting impact. However, with the right internship opportunity, the experience and training you gain could have a lasting effect on your career. Likewise, you have the power to make a lasting impact on your supervisor and the company you work for – if you’re willing to seize the opportunity!
As someone who has spent the past two years interning at SWC, I believe that the right internship can be instrumental to your future success. Before you accept an internship job offer, make sure it’s with a company that is able to provide real-world, hands-on experience; one that puts in the extra effort to develop their interns into full-time employees.
Once you snag that great opportunity, make sure you leverage that opportunity to its fullest potential.
How to Succeed at Your Internship
So, what does it take to win at your internship? In my experience, it is the result of hard work, strong habits, and the ability to have a little fun in the process. Here are three ways you can make the most of your internship, and become indispensable to the company in the process.
Know Your Value
If the CEO of your company asked you to show them what value you bring to the table, would you be ready to answer?
As interns, we understand that our time at the company is finite; it is up to us to extend that time into a full-time career. Showing your value requires that you understand your contribution, but when reflecting back on your internship, it’s surprisingly easy to forget everything you’ve done. That’s why I recommend self-initiated daily & weekly recaps to keep your contributions top-of-mind for yourself, as well as your supervisor.
Don’t be intimidated to send your weekly recap to your supervisor in a brief email. They’ll appreciate your ability to manage your own projects and responsibilities. Plus, it helps you stay top-of-mind at the end of their busy week. This habit also creates a benchmark that you can use to compete against your best work. If you always try to be 1% better than you were the day before, by the end of your internship, you’ll have grown significantly!
Build Lasting Relationships
In addition to proving your worth to your direct supervisor, winning your internship also involves building relationships outside of your department. SWC’s open-door policy afforded me the opportunity to learn from a variety of different practice areas and, eventually, learn the names of hundreds of co-workers, as well as have some of leadership and company stakeholders know mine!
Your first internship is often your first real-world opportunity to work with people who are successful in the industry you’re trying to break into. Take this opportunity to go beyond your specific duties and volunteer to help out in other areas of the business to gain exposure to all types of people – whether that be offering a helping hand to HR as they set up training room activities, or hand out name tags at a company event and get a chance to sit in on the presentation. There is always something new to learn and you never know who can help you along the way.
Begin professional doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun in the process! This is one of SWC’s core values and an important part of a positive work culture that I will continue to value as I enter the workforce. Some of my most memorable experiences during my internship at SWC included hosting a family feud competition that garnered the participation of the entire company, singing karaoke at the annual holiday party, coming up with creative names for the new meeting rooms, and countless catered lunches for a chance to break up the workday and enjoy some quality time with my coworkers and friends.
Though most internships will only last between 8 – 10 weeks, it’s entirely possible to form lasting connects and lessons that will continue to excel your career beyond those initial few months.
My successful internship experience at SWC has afforded me the opportunity to work with some of the largest tech companies in the world, including Adobe and Google. While I look forward to exploring the next step in my journey, the technical, professional, and personal skills I gained at SWC will forever be some of the most valuable and lasting experiences of my career.