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Making the most of your internship

by Melissa

How do you make the experience worthwhile both from a learning and strategic perspective — i.e. landing a full-time offer, securing a great letter of reference or simply making a positive impression on your colleagues to leverage going forward?

Jodi Glickman, author of

How do you make the experience worthwhile both from a learning and strategic perspective — i.e. landing a full-time offer, securing a great letter of reference or simply making a positive impression on your colleagues to leverage going forward?

Jodi Glickman, author of Great on the Job,  has developed a tool called Your Personal Matrix.  Essentially it’s a way to think about where you are now, where you want to get to and how to do it.

Starting point

If you’re at the start of your internship it’s a good idea to set some goals around what you want to achieve. So

  • What specifically do you want to learn?
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • What do you want people to say about you?
  • Where do you want to be by summer’s end?
  • What types of projects do you want to work on that are reasonable and realistic?
  • What do you need to learn or master?
  • What do you want or need exposure to?

Granted you don’t know what you don’t know.  So these goals may be aspirational and that’s fine for now.

Half way

But by the time you reach half way – you can put a bit more flesh on the bones.  Jodi suggests you list projects you’ve worked on, teams you’ve led, assignments you’ve asked for and experience you’ve gleaned…

  • What have you learned and/or contributed thus far?
  • Who have you worked with or connected with?
  • What are you particularly proud of? What do you find yourself speaking about with colleagues or at social events?

This isn’t your resume; it’s your dashboard of exciting projects or proud moments, notable wins or important milestones.

Make sure you can concisely and conversationally communicate your achievements.  You’ll need to be able to do these in variety of contexts – Informal conversations, to conversations at networking events to those one to one meetings you may have with your seniors.

Current Situation: A Wish List: B
What you’re doing or have done What you want or hope to do
Who you have worked with Who you want or hope to work with

Wish List

Your Wish List is hopefully more fun to dream up and represents your strategic direction or goal post.  You can ask the same questions of yourself that you asked at the start:

  • Where do you want to be by summer’s end?
  • What types of projects do you want to work on that are reasonable and realistic?
  • What do you need to learn or master?
  • What do you want or need exposure to?

With this in mind, you now need to get clear on the relationships that you need to build to make this happen….

  • Who are the people that can help make those goals happen?
  • Who are the decision makers, power brokers or wheelers and dealers in your organization who you can and should establish and build relationships with?
  • Who are the rock stars that you can learn from?
  • Who are the people slightly senior to you that might serve as mentors?
  • Who are the executives who might serve as champions?
  • Have you reached out to anyone on your list?
  • Have you begun to build friends and allies within your organization?

Now What?

Once you’ve got your matrix, you have your starting point (Point A) and your end goal (Point B). You now need to fill in the important blanks.

Jodi says, “Start plotting points that will get you from A to B with tangible, manageable steps. You can sit down with your manager for an informal conversation or at your midpoint review and ask to work with certain people or projects on your Wish List.

Volunteer for new initiatives, ask for a specific project or assignment or just highlight your desire to work with Ben, Steve or the product development team in the coming weeks.”

“Whether or not you actually share your matrix with your manager or mentor, use it to guide your discussions around career development and next steps. If you’re so bold as to whip out the sheet of paper and show your boss that you’re thinking critically and strategically about what you want to accomplish or learn and who want to work with, you’re likely to impress.

Even if you simply use the information to start a dialogue around your career development, you’re still in great shape. Essentially, you’re doing your manager’s work for her by giving her an outline of how to best put your talents to use over the next several weeks or months. Who wouldn’t appreciate that?

Lastly, keep your Personal Matrix tucked away for that next job or career change — and update it as needed. It’s a tool that will come in handy not only during your summer internship but over time in lieu of those college professors and advisors guiding you along the way.”

You can find out more about Jodi’s work and the book here:

http://greatonthejob.com/about/jodi-glickman/

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