As the summer rolls around, high school and college students are getting ready to embark on their new internships. With the hopes of growing professionally and gaining a better understanding of themselves, these students and young professionals have their eyes set on forging lasting relationships and making the best impression they can on their respective industry.
Throughout my many internships, I have always received the same set of advice. And while these pieces of information have proven to be very valuable, here are three unspoken tips that that are sure to add value to any internship.
(1) Understand the Chain of Command
When you first start your internship you’ll quickly notice that everyone has a boss they are trying to please: there’s you, then your boss, then your boss’s boss, and their boss, and so on. Understanding this chain of command and what is expected of each person will give you a unique perspective on how to produce effective work. Understanding what is required of your boss will provide you with valuable information on how to add value to the end product that is expected of you.
(2) Develop a Wholistic Understanding of the Business
As an intern it’s easy to get lost in the sauce, keeping yourself isolated and occupied with the tasks and responsibilities given to you; however, one of the most valuable things you can do at your internship is to gain develop a better understanding of the bigger picture. Through my previous internships, I have worked in education, nonprofits, production, and media but all within the realm of marketing and communications. Understanding how these businesses function: how they generate revenue, who their main partners are, and what success means for them will help you succeed as you continue your career as an intern in future companies. Aim to answer these questions before your internship ends:
- Who are the biggest clients? What are the main ways we generate revenue?
- What is the process of our product/service from A to Z?
- What are the different departments of the business? How do they work with one another?
- How do other businesses use our product/service to run their operations? How do we value to them?
(3) Make the Time to Learn From the Other Departments
Lastly, while internships are meant to help you gain more experience, they are also there to help you gain a better understanding of what you want to do in the future. In most of my previous internships, what I regret the most is not taking the time to step out of my comfort zone and talk to people outside of my department. There were so many missed conversations that could have given me more information on how I should tackle my future career. For example, even if your role is in marketing, don’t be afraid to talk to someone in finance, operations, or IT. You never know if it’ll spark an interest for you.
So to all my young professionals: congratulations, you got the internship — now go out there and level up.
Ask questions, talk to as many people as you can, listen, and take notes.
Best of luck and you got this.
Hi, my name is Ian! I am junior studying Business Administration at the University of Southern California. I am a member of the National Millennial Community & GenZ Council, an interviewer for Cue Careers, and a proud alum of IntersectLA. After I graduate, I hope to pursue a career in advertising, PR, or marketing.
My interests include advertising, esports, diversity in media, and reading.