Timebound Workplace

Make the Most of Your Summer Internship

Which college student has not heard that an internship or cooperative education opportunity is essential to a full-time offer after college?

For the most part, summer hiring for internships is slowing down and I am listening to stories from young folks who are starting their internships. Stories about the relief of getting something for summer, complaints about how employers don’t “get” it and excitement around finally doing something practical with “my college degree.”

As I listen, laugh, wonder aloud and sometimes, roll my eyes at these individual stories, I am struck by the fact that these folks are making a conscious career choice today: the essence of career development and progression lies in how we open ourselves to opportunities of risk, failure and growth.

To all the Twenty-Something’s out there, including my own, I offer you the gift of three practices that I believe will help you turn your internship experience into one filled with grace, fulfilment and abundance:

1) Practice generosity:

Show up: This is more than being on time and managing your time efficiently:

  • What excites you most about your internship? Let that excitement show!
  • How will you harness this excitement to create results? Light up collective goals!
  • What will you excel in naturally? Say yes to what aligns directly with your strengths!
  • What will NOT come as easy? Ask questions, commit to learning and build skills!

Your work style and preference “shows up” in each and every interaction and can create long-lasting impressions of credibility, trustworthiness and capability. Make the most of this incredible opportunity to learn and build congruence between how you see yourself and how others experience you.

2) Build capacity:

Here and now: These are the only two coordinates that matter. Inconsequential, everyday things add up to create a life of substance:

  • What questions will you ask to understand expectations? Create accountability steps!
  • What might get in your way of creating success? Check your mindset!
  • What does hitting an idea out of the ballpark mean? Let your geek quality shine!
  • What is outside your comfort zone? Take that shot!

The theme around building capacity is openness and vulnerability.  Over time, this is a life and career truth – Cultivate a practice to remain open to ideas, seek out new ways of doing things and embrace what is not a preferred style. Combine this practice with a willingness to fail, to challenge assumptions and to admit not knowing. A Chinese proverb reminds us:

“To open a shop is easy, to keep it open is an art.” 

Make most of this incredible opportunity to build capacity and career resiliency!

3) Nurture relationships:

Build a life, not just a career: Legendary work happens only with and through people. When we build relationships, we build a life of giving and receiving.

  • How will you build trust, accountability and likeability? Be the brand people talk about!
  • What impresses you about the leadership/colleagues? Learn from their career stories!
  • What helps you engage people in conversations? Recognize what creates curiosity!
  • What will help you take care of yourself? Stop your behavior from managing you!

Everyday practice matters. From the outside, what other people do or how well they come across usually looks effortless. It is an unfortunate myth that is easy to believe, especially when faced with new opportunities, new tasks and new people. It is here that listening to experience matters – build in small moments of practice each day and see the brilliance of your talent shine through. Your talent matters – that is why you were hired by your employer.  Make most of this incredible opportunity so that your employer can breathe a sigh of relief!

I wish you joy as you intentionally create this life of purpose and abundance.  Would you come back and tell me your stories after these summer opportunities end and you head back to school?

By Sunitha Narayanan

Sunitha Narayanan is a certified career coach with a passion for connecting people and their talents to life and work opportunities. She is a co-active coach, empowering her clients to believe in their dreams, set actionable goals and actively create joy in their work lives. She is with Promark Company, a Career Partners International firm that offers executive coaching, leadership development and outplacement services. Learn about her interests by visiting her LinkedIn profile.