Part 2 – What Students must do to make internships more valuable:
This is in continuation of the Part-1 which was published three weeks ago.
Today the first month of summer internships for MBA students in India is over and now remains only a month more to go, here are my perspectives and opinions on what the students should do to create value for the organization in which they are interning and also for themselves.
My advice is not on obvious things such as; work hard and stay on top of your project deliverables by making sure your project management skills are being honed, etc. This to me is basic, threshold and hence a given, my advice in particular is about the attitude and dos and don’ts that need to be adopted and exhibited by inerns to create more value:
1) If you haven’t yet started, then, make sure that you have the draft structure of your final presentation and report ready. Don’t leave it until the last weeks. This will help you to start converting you work into a good presentation and report. As you complete your project start to populate it into the draft PPT and report that you may have created.
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ~ Dwight D Eisenhower
2) In the past one month you must have met a lot of people in the company you are working and lot of other people in the industry coz of your interactions with them. Make a list of people with whom you would like to build solid connections and then work on building them. No harm in upfront telling those people, how much you value their support and how you would like to stay in contact with them, even after the internship. It will help if you can make time to have informal meetings and discussions with these people over a coffee or a lunch – tell them about yourself, your dreams and aspirations. One caution, don’t go overboard and spend most of your time; networking. Key is to have a nicely focused shortlist of people with whom you want to build solid connections and then spend some time in building those connections. This is also your opportunity to befriend and make solid connections with your fellow interns from other schools. Peer connections are as valuable as any other connections you make during your internship and MBA education.
Start with the end in mind ~ Stephen Covey
3) Take a balcony moment and assess what you are learning. At times we get so focused on what we are doing that we forget to hard wire what we are learning. Learning is the most important objective of any internship; ensure you stay focused on it. I recently learned that, to go faster at times you have to slow down, come out of the dance and take a balcony moment. This interval or mid-point of your (two months) internship is a perfect time to slow down a bit, review your progress, assess its effectiveness and re-plan the next phase of execution.
Taking a break for sharpening the saw at regular intervals helps you to cut more effectively and faster ~ Stephen Covey
4) Your next big milestone is the final presentation that you will give to the senior management of the company. Most company’s give 50% weightage to your final presentation (solutions that you will recommend to the complex business challenge you are working on) and that’s the “what” part. Remaining 50% is for “how” you have worked, behaved and gone about completing your project. So if you are keen on getting placed in the company where you are doing your internship then give it your best shot and present yourself well on both parts; “what” you delivered and “how” you delivered it.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about dancing in the rain ~ Unkown
5) This is my last and most important piece of advice. It’s about what you should do when you get an offer to join the company or what to do – if you don’t get that offer. Of course this should matter to you, only if you are keen to work with the company that you are interning with.
If you get the offer then it’s easy, you are delighted with yourself and congratulations will be in order from all quarters. Enjoy that moment, go back to your school focus on your remaining studies, pass with flying colors and you will most probably join that company, this time, next year. But, when you get that offer – do think hard if you really want to join that company and wish to make a career there. If in doubt discuss freely with your confidants and only if your are totally sure – accept that offer otherwise decline it and try for other jobs and companies that may be of interest to you. It has to be your decision!
What if you are very keen and you don’t get the offer? Now this is a difficult situation. I have often found many interns dismayed and are left feeling dejected and low. Some even get aggressive, angry and start to blame their mentors and guides for not being of much help etc. Some start arguing and disputing the feedback they get and some begin to plead for a reassessment and re-consideration.
Well, let me tell you one thing. Most progressive and professional companies have a very robust assessment process (which involves multiple people and data points) and their decision is often very objective and final. So, in my opinion those who do not accept the company’s decision and start to behave negatively – often land up denting their own image. Therefore, resilience, maturity and dignity lies in and comes from internalizing the failure as compared to externalizing it. Adopting a positive attitude will help you overcome your disappointment and enhance your chances of greater success in times to come.
Remember one thing, your not getting that offer can be due to various reasons. I have seen many good interns, who despire their super performance on what and how – not getting an offer due to the recessionary economic cycles. During a depressed economic cycle, companies tend to hire fewer number of people. However after the economy bounces back the same companies and leaders go back and look for those interns who were good and are now placed and working somewhere else. Therefore, as explained above please remember the impressions and connections you make can and will serve you well throughout your career or vice versa.
Irrespective of the outcome, as they say; count your blessings and be grateful to the company , all the people who have helped you with your internship and internalize your failure and externalize your success. It’s a key characteristic of a good human being and an good professional. Wishing you great success and a big career. Like life, a career should be big and not necessarily long. So go out there and make it big!!
Dictionary is the only place where success comes before work ~ Mark Twain
My next and concluding part is on what the MBA Schools must do – and I am sure it will raise a good debate and discussion between the three key stake holders (Companies, Students and Schools). Please let me have your comments and feedback on this blog. Thanks 🙂