A few months back, I received great news from the co-op program regarding my application for the Digital Marketing Communications Specialist Intern position at SAP.
After hearing that I’d been accepted, I experienced a mix of excitement and self-doubt. In the past, I have always described myself as the most non-tech-savvy person in the room. Getting into one of the largest technology companies in the world, I couldn’t help but doubt my ability. Moreover, the role required graphic design experience which I didn’t have. However, I reevaluated my goals and put on a “lifelong learner” hat, and here I am at SAP!
So, how do you get the most out of your internship? Here are five things I picked up along the way.
1. JUST ASK!
I came from a country where asking can be perceived as disrespectful. If you ask a question in class, you will probably be mocked after.
I learned “the power of asking” which has changed the way I perform at work. The biggest reason most people don’t try asking for what they want is fear. In fact, asking is a pathway to opportunities. If there is any particular area that you want to learn more about, ask your manager or colleagues if you can get involved in any way. This will show that you are taking initiatives and being proactive. As the proverb goes, “you can’t get what you don’t ask for.”
2. It’s Ok Not to Know Everything
Internships are trial and error games. You intern because you want to know whether the job is the right fit or not. Good employers should understand that you are still learning and should appreciate that you are asking questions. Asking the right questions will allow you to learn even more and get the most out of your internship experience!
3. X = Y
There are two parts to the equation: input (X) and output (Y). If you want to make the most out of it, you must be willing to put a little extra effort. This includes taking on new projects, expanding your professional network, as well as focusing on personal development. For example, one of my goals while working at SAP was to get involved in something new such as managing an interactive IoT wall project or putting in extra hours to experiment with different design tools.
4. Learn How to Say “NO”
Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize. When you are hungry for opportunities and want to try different things, you might end up having an overwhelming amount of work on your plate. This can be a double-edged sword. Saying no to projects that don’t align with your goals provides you with the ability to prioritize and perform at your best. Focus on things that will help you grow.
5. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Internships are a great way to find out what you’re really good at and what you’re not. There are multiple routes to achieve this, including asking your manager for a one-on-one session, talking to your colleagues about your performance, or evaluating yourself at the end of each work term! Use internships as an opportunity to identify your gaps and strengths. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and venture out of your comfort zone.
In summary, there are multiple approaches to getting the most out of your internship experience. These five points are just the tip of the iceberg. To all the co-op students out there: what are your game-changing strategies? Please comment below and I look forward to hearing about what you’re doing!