The Global Explorer Program is underway. Many of you will remember the Summer of 2017 as the start of your career and the turning point in your life when you decided to take your career into your own hands.
My name is Cornelia Holzbauer and I am an alumni of the 2016 New York City program.
I joined CI as a Program Assistant for 2017 in the Big Apple and I couldn’t be happier about this opportunity. The industry I cover is Media, Entertainment and Journalism, and I was able to intern with an established PR company in Tribeca thanks to CI last year.
In this blog, I will share insights on how to make a lasting impression at your company. I’ll do my best to assist you during your eight-week internship with advice that will help you make the most out of every day.
You can use this information in your own way. Use it as a motivational boost each week, use it to remind yourself why you are here, or use it to show your supervisor that you are willing to do whatever it takes in order to make a lasting impression.
Every post will accompany and assist you with each week of your internship and is named after the goal that I have set you for that particular week.
Below, you will find an outline with all 8 steps and a description of them. You can just go ahead and click on them to get started, I will upload each article for you as we move through the eight-week program.
Step 1: Observations. Get a grasp on your company’s work culture through observation.
Step 2: Work It. Transform into an intern powerhouse and contribute positively.
Step 3: Engage. Find efficient ways to get even more involved in your company’s workflow.
Step 4: Review. At half-time, review your work and adjust where necessary.
Step 5: Show Your Worth. Demonstrate your learnings to your supervisors.
Step 6: Contribute. Play a part in your company’s development with continuous effort.
Step 7: Make an Impact. Finish your project and present to your mentor.
Step 8: Look to the Future. Make a lasting memory and consider what’s coming next.
STEP ONE: OBSERVATIONS
In your first week(s), meet new people, introduce yourself to as many new co-workers in your host company as possible and start making your mark.
It’s never too early to act on securing your future. Start to understand your company’s culture and find out how you can play a part.
Be alert, be aware and be positive! This is a new experience for you as an intern and for your company, who decided to take you on and mentor you over the summer.
One of the things that I told myself every day when I first started my internship last year was to make every minute count.
Make yourself memorable. Don’t just sit out your time in the office every day, but make good use of it.
Some of you have traveled from overseas to come to New York, London, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. or Miami and some of you had to fly across the country. No matter where you are from, most of you have left your usual environment for eight weeks to be here and get an insight into the business world of your chosen city.
How am I supposed to stand out in a company that already has established employees when I am just an intern, you may ask.
First and foremost, never label yourself as “just an intern”. Yes, maybe that’s the title you have been given for now, but it’s what you make of this new opportunity. There are different types of interns, after all.
CI interns deserve a different title.
“Career Accelerator”, “Achiever”, “Future Leader”. Do you want these to apply to you?
Throughout the course of the eight-week program, I’ll focus on showing you how to make an impact with your host company and how to avoid becoming “just another intern”.
At the beginning of your eight-week internship, use your time to learn about what your company does, the industries that they cover, understand their goals, how each employee contributes and how they function as a team.
You will need all this information to be able to define your own position in the company and to be able to move on to Step 2 in this 8-Step Plan.
You’ve not only scored an internship, you have also arrived at your company and (hopefully) made a good first impression. Congratulations!
This series is all about making a lasting impression with your company. Your CI internship can give you a head start in today’s competitive business world, but at the end of the day, it always depends on what you make of it.
Remember, eight weeks will fly by, so let’s get into it. Prior to joining the program, you should have had a rough idea of your company’s overall goals and how they make money.
Your next step is to find out as much as possible about your company’s working environment and their competition. I call this the observation step. Observe your colleagues, your supervisor and their manager. Find out how their work is connected and the steps each of them take to obtain certain goals.
OBSERVE AND AVOID MISTAKES
It’s OK to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it. This is your chance to learn from other people’s mistakes, so pay close attention.
David Meltzer, Entrepreneur Contributor and Founder and CEO of Sports 1 Marketing, calls this the dummy tax. Avoid paying this tax by not making the same mistakes as your colleagues, as you observe and analyze their actions.
You will also be able to put this information into practice with CI’s ‘Company & Market Analysis’ event.
SMALL TASKS, BIG GOALS
One of the most important lessons I learned last year was that every task is essential. Let me give you an example.
Let's say you intern at a PR company and you have been given the task of looking up circulation numbers for different publications like magazines and newspapers and collating them in a spreadsheet.
Initially, this may entail staring at a computer screen all day, handling seemingly trivial numbers. It doesn’t exactly demand a lot of creativity or initiative on your part and you might even end up asking yourself: why can't my supervisor give me more demanding tasks?
But you have two choices. You can either sit down and get it done through gritted teeth. Or you can look at the bigger picture. Those circulation numbers represent product exposure and your company is contributing directly to that exposure. Your contribution in the form of collecting and presenting numbers will help your company legitimize their work and prove their successful PR to their clients.
Observing your company’s work culture and their process of structuring and carrying out tasks will give you extra motivation for your assignments, no matter how big or small.
Another way to look at this is how certain assignments will boost your CV. Adding ‘generated media lists using MS Excel, calculating circulation numbers for clients’ enables you to stand out from those without the relevant experience.
STEP 1: KEY TAKEWAWAYS
Be alert and stay motivated. Analyze your company from top to bottom and start thinking about the areas that you can get involved. Your employer will be so impressed when you pro-actively walk through your interpretation of their company and where you believe you can add value.
STEP 2: WORK IT
You’ve survived the first week of your internship, and if you followed Step One (and everything went well), you should be able to analyze your company thoroughly. You’ve (hopefully) already established a routine by now.
If it feels like you’re mixing learning and contributing, you’re doing everything right. Step 2 in this 8-Step-Plan is rather simple, yet effective. Put in the effort to reap the rewards.
Show your supervisor that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty and throw yourself into every new task that you are assigned.
If you are working on bigger, long-lasting projects, own them. By the way, congratulations. Apparently, your supervisor already trusts you enough to hand over tasks to you which might impact on the company’s overall success. Depending on the industry that you are in and the culture in your company, a day at your workplace might look significantly different from that of your peers.
Some of you might have to run errands for your supervisors and are out and about a lot, whilst meeting new people and learning new skills. Some of you might spend the majority of your time in front of a computer screen. No matter what your routine looks like, there are some universal tips that will help you improve your efficiency at work.
WORK EFFICIENTLY: DEVOTE YOURSELF TO EVERY TASK
In order to be as efficient as possible, it is essential that you are exclusively focused on the task at hand. There are several aspects to this.
Firstly, remove everything that might distract you and gather essentials that you need before even starting your task. This might involve a cup of coffee (or tea), a pen and notepad and a snack that keeps you focused.
Secondly, avoid multitasking. Many people think they are great at multitasking, because they do it all the time. In reality, you will get more tasks done in less time if you stay laser-focused on every assignment separately.
According to the American Psychological Association, shifting between tasks can cost us up to 40 percent of our productivity time. This means that it takes longer to complete several pieces of work when doing them all at once than when finishing one at a time. Rather than trying to crank everything into one single assignment, work your way through one task completely, then move on to the next one. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in general, this helps you to stay focused and to get into a flow of continuous concentration.
DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE MINUTAE
Even though you should approach every assignment with 100%, try to map out a structure to ensure you’ve prepared for the parts of your task that need more of your time, concentration and effort, and which don’t.
Avoid wasting your most valuable resource, time, which could have been put to better use on more challenging engagements.
Also, do harder tasks first, when you’re still feeling fresh and motivated for the day. Get to things that don’t take up that much brainpower later in the day.
2: KEY TAKEAWAYS
Transform yourself into an intern powerhouse! Your supervisors will take note of your devotion to the tasks that you’ve been given and this will help you to move on to Step Three.
Approach every assignment with all your energy and motivation and structure your day to increase efficiency. Keep up the good work!
STEP 3: ENGAGE
Now that you’ve demonstrated your work ethic and devotion to the tasks at hand, it’s time to move on to Step 3: Engage.
Demonstrating a keen interest in your company’s goals and output will take you to the next level and again show your host company that you are serious about your internship. After all, nobody wants to stay an intern forever. The ultimate goal of your internship is a full-time position; whether with your host company or with another company. Make use of this experience.
Once you feel like you have become an important part of the team, you’ll find additional motivation to push yourself harder to perform at a higher level.
SHOW INITATIVE WITH YOUR SUPERVISOR
Give your best every day. Once you know that you are performing at your highest capacity, set up a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your progress and the goals that you have set.
This is also a good time to tackle any problems you might have or tasks that you are struggling with. You might be nervous about addressing sensitive subjects with your mentor. Even though they are an authority figure, your supervisor will always have your well-being in mind.
Positive engagement has a positive effect on a company’s revenue. According to Aon Hewitt Research a five percent increase in employee engagement is linked to a three percent revenue growth in the subsequent year.
Speak up and show your supervisors that you are truly willing to make a lasting impression whilst interning with them. Your initiative will be rewarded in the long run.
ATTEND NETWORKING EVENTS
After getting more involved within your company, consider involvement away from the office. See if there are any networking opportunities you could join. If some of your colleagues regularly attend a professional social event, ask if you could tag along.
Stay on track with your industry’s event schedule online and find out if there is anything of interest happening close to you. At networking events, you have the chance to meet influencers in your industry and connect with them, as well as work on your professional communication skills.
CI’s host cities are all international hubs, offering countless possibilities for you to engage and meet professionals who could go on to shape your career. Meet Up is a good resource. Take someone with you or let someone else know where you will be.
In 2016, Lou Adler, hiring expert, CEO of the Adler Group and LinkedIn Influencer, published results of a survey in which he had asked participants exactly how they obtained their most current position. The results: Roughly 85 Percent of survey takers claimed they had been hired through networking.
STEP 3: KEY TAKEAWAYS
Engage in two ways: Get more involved within your company and get out there and reach out to potentially valuable connections as well.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but make sure that you learn from them. ‘Positive mistakes’ will only take you one step further to where you want to go. Learn, grow and own your internship!
STEP 4: REVIEW AND IMPROVE
We are almost at half-point of our program and things are moving fast. By now, you should have made valuable connections, you should know your colleagues by name and if you’ve been applying yourself, you may have already managed to complete a project (or two).
Your routine is starting to feel good and going to your internship every day has become a walk in the park. This is the point at which you should take a second to review the work you have done so far and see how you can improve.
Your willingness to improve continuously will not remain unnoticed by your supervisor.
Below, I will outline several aspects of your internship that you can review and what to change about them, if applicable.
REVIEW YOUR PROJECTS
Just as you would proofread a paper that you wrote for a class, you can also review the assignments that you completed for your internship so far.
If you’re a writer, look at the first articles you wrote and how they differ from the ones you complete now.
If you are interning for a company who sells ad space, review how many clients you were able to draw in during your first week and how that number compares to your performance now.
In short, review your projects and see where you’ve already made visible progress, plus where additional adjustments are necessary.
This is an activity that is useful if you’d like to impress your supervisor even more. Schedule an appointment with them and tell them exactly how you interpret your own achievements so far and where you see room for improvement. Don’t be taken aback if they offer a level of criticism. Identifying your own mistakes will only help you improve yourself. Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career expert, author and time.com contributor, calls this self-knowledge, which will help you moving forward.
WRITE DOWN YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
This may sound trivial, but you will notice what a difference it makes. Sit down with a laptop or a sheet of paper in front of you and literally write down what you have accomplished so far. There are two major benefits to this.
Firstly, you will be more aware of your own worth and the tasks you can accomplish. You can review this document to remind yourself of the things you can achieve.
Secondly, you will be able to present your accomplishments to your supervisor and prove to them that you are a valuable intern and have potential as a member staff.
HAND IN YOUR MID-PROGRAM APPRAISAL
If you haven’t already done so, speak with your supervisor and discuss your mid-program appraisal, which you’ll find in your CI Welcome Binder.
The appraisal is the perfect way to get an honest evaluation from your superiors. This gives you a chance to improve on the things that have been criticized, but also to perform with even more enthusiasm when it comes to the tasks that you’ve done a good job on so far.
Enthusiasm is key. According to the Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report 2016, as many as 78 percent of recruiters say that enthusiasm is the biggest decider to hire someone after first-person interview, followed by command of requirements and conversation skills.
Since you are in a position right now where you are eventually looking to be hired by the company you’re interning for, this information should motivate you.
GET MORE PEOPLE TO NOTICE YOU
Last year, I was so caught up in my routine that I didn’t even realize how fast the time flew by. Be aware that half your internship is over and use this motivation to go the extra mile.
Try to engage in additional projects and network more than ever.
If you feel like you’ve been stuck working on bland projects, don’t be afraid to schedule a meeting with your supervisor to ask for more demanding tasks.
Coming forward and asking for something is always better than not saying anything at all. Your supervisors may not prioritize your progress on a daily basis, so it’s important to speak about what’s on your mind.
STEP 4: KEY TAKEAWAYS
Review your projects and see where you can improve. Make yourself aware of your achievements for an extra motivational boost. Get more people to notice you by giving 100% every day. Approach your superiors with anything that is on your mind. You only have four weeks left, so challenge yourself to make the most of them.
STEP FIVE: SHOW YOUR WORTH
You’re over half way through your internship and if you haven’t done so already, now is really the time to pick it up a notch.
Apply everything you’ve learned during the last four weeks and work on becoming an intern that your company won’t want to see leave at the end of the program. After all, many of you aren’t just here for the experience, but looking to get a full-time position out of this internship.
Making a lasting impression is great, but it is just a stepping stone to eventually getting hired. Truly show what you’re capable of to get your supervisors to notice you. Here’s how to do it:
EMPHASIZE YOUR SKILLS
Handle this tip with caution. As an intern, always be humble, so don’t actually start bragging about all your achievements. However, do emphasize your strengths in order to put them to good use at your internship.
For example, your supervisors might not know that you’re proficient at MS Excel or that your photography skills are off the charts. If a project comes up that fits your skills, don’t be afraid to come forward and offer your help. This is a part of being proactive and putting yourself out there as opposed to just completing the tasks that were assigned to you in the first place.
Also, other departments might need a hand once in a while. Let as many people as possible know that you’re here to help.
FOCUS ON CONTRIBUTING
During the first part of your internship, you probably spent a lot of time observing your superiors to learn. You might have had to ask 10 questions to be able to complete one task, because you weren’t used to it yet.
But now that you’ve already been interning with your host company for at least four weeks, you’re most likely in a routine and can contribute to the company’s goals and overall success. Give it your absolute best, no matter what kind of task you are assigned.
Being able to truly contribute isn’t only a great feeling, but it will also show your supervisors what an invaluable addition to the firm’s workforce you will be in the future, whether immediately, or a little later in the line. Don’t shun longer-term thinking.
BUILD UP TRUST
If you contribute continuously excellent work, employees at the firm will gradually start giving you more responsibility. Áine Cain, Career reporter for Business insider, says that interns who build up trust with co-workers become indispensable. This means being smart and hardworking isn’t enough.
Help your supervisors to trust you by getting every detail right and becoming a crucial part of the company’s success.
COME IN WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
It’s perfectly natural that rising early for your internship is harder on some days than on others, especially if you’re used to a more relaxed college life. But don’t get tempted to start slacking at this stage: Keep up your motivated mindset that you had on Day One at the office.
According to Progressive Business Publications, a positive attitude will improve the quality of your work and make every task more enjoyable.
Not to mention that your motivated, hands-on approach will be remembered by your supervisor. Show how driven you are by putting a smile on your face and approaching every task with a positive mindset.
TALK ABOUT YOUR GOALS
If your goal is an entry-level position with your host company, approach your supervisor and let them know.
Many companies take in interns thinking that they’re only doing it for school credit or the experience itself. If you’re interested in securing a full-time position at your company, ask your supervisor about the steps that will take you there.
The worst that can happen is that there aren’t any job openings right now. Two out of three CI interns will be offered a position or an extension of their internship either immediately or over the next couple of years: Work on becoming one of them!
Even if you’re planning on going back to school in the fall, talk to your supervisor about your short-term goals during your internship. In both cases, showing you are proactive and willing to apply all your learnings to your internship won’t fail to impress your superiors.
STEP 5: KEY TAKEAWAYS
Emphasize your skills in order to put them to good use at your internship. Focus on contributing and build up trust with your coworkers by delivering continuously excellent work. Don’t start slacking. Instead, come in with the right attitude and also show your proactive side by talking to your supervisor about your goals – whether they are short- or long-term.