Starting an internship at any company starts with a goal to learn, contribute, add to our resume, and hopefully land a full-time job after graduation. When I started as an intern at HireVue and full-time student about to graduate from Brigham Young University, I knew those were my objectives. Now that I can enthusiastically say that I have accepted HireVue’s offer as Marketing Coordinator. I can also say that I have learned a lot on the way to becoming a full-time team member. Hoping that others can learn from my journey, here are some quick pointers interlaced with experiences that can help to turn an internship (or any position) into something greater.
Develop Skills, Not Resume Bullet Points
I feel like we strive so hard to get exposure to different companies and responsibilities for the sole purpose of adding a new point on our resume…believe me I’ve been guilty. However, with standalone paper resumes losing value in the hiring process, I am worried about our response when an interviewer looks at these bold titles on our meticulously crafted paper resume and asks follow-up questions like:
“I see that you were an (insert long and exaggerated title - INTERN) at (insert large influential company). What did you do there to benefit the company’s progression? What ideas or plans did you offer to support their strategic plan? How can your experience and developed skills benefit us here at X company? I’m worried because I think our wide-eyed expression and profuse sweating will clearly indicate how productive that internship was.
When I first started at HireVue as a lead generation intern in early 2012, I fell into the same trap. I was given a task that didn’t require much high level thinking but still was necessary for our growth as a small company. I was so complacent with coming in, sending some emails for a few hours, and leaving. Was I doing my job? Yes, but was I being proactive with a focus on growing and progressing? Was I daily thinking about how I personally could contribute and impact? Regrettably, no, but I would learn from that.
Look for Any Way to Expand Your Role
A short time later, I took an internship at a large entertainment corporation in California and felt myself once again slipping into the routine of doing one mundane task each day. I arrived at a crossroads and asked myself, “am I ok with my role or am I capable of more?” I started inviting myself to meetings and asking more questions. Instead of watching someone make the analytics report, I asked to make them. Instead of staying away from executives, I made efforts to interact and learn from them. By the end of that summer, as I listened to the stories of the intern’s experiences, I stood out because I had worked to extract the most out of those few months. Be careful about ever saying, “But that’s not my job!”
Being somewhat of a tennis aficionado, the words of legendary player and now commentator John McEnroe come to mind about the 11 time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal. After mentioning that although Nadal isn’t necessarily the most fundamental or talented player on the tour, what makes him great is that “Nadal works like he needs a job”. No matter what our position or role we have in a company, our responsibility to ourselves and the organization we represent is to look for any way to contribute and “work like we need a job”.
Worry about Progression, Not Permission
It seems that from the day we began to talk, we get into this habit of asking for permission. We know that if we don’t, our neglect will lead to some type of consequence. In early years, this is an essential habit to learn and practice. However, in the business world, asking for permission can turn into an excuse and put us on a dangerous path to complacency.
In returning back to HireVue in November for yet another internship, I was ready. For the next 7 months, I volunteered for so many projects (many requiring hours of online tutorials) that I found myself running out of time every day to complete them. I created, managed, coordinated, supported, and worked with the finance, engineering, administration, and sales departments on multiple endeavors… all while struggling, failing, and most importantly… LEARNING and CONTRIBUTING. I didn’t ask anyone for permission to do many of those things; I just looked for needs or problems and searched for solutions.
After this transition to a full-time position here at HireVue, I can confidently say that as we develop skill sets, work like we need a job, and worry less about permission and more about progression, we can advance our internships and careers exponentially faster. Never be satisfied with the status quo – strive to be great and never look back.