Getting a great internship might make you feel accomplished, but if you don’t take action to make the most of it, you’ll gain nothing.
By now I’m guessing you’ve seen the viral video “Meet the Young Activist Doing Everything She Can To Change The World,” a satire on “slacktivism” — sharing content on social media in support of a social or political cause rather than taking physical action or having any real involvement.
Though a recent study does show that slacktivism isn’t completely worthless — it can possibly help contribute to a protest becoming a movement.
Still, there’s something spot-on about this spoof.
The “Young Activist” in the video believes she has “done [her] part” simply because she put a political filter on her Facebook profile picture. The filter makes her feel as involved in the current cause as Rosa Parks was in the civil rights movement, refusing to surrender her bus seat.
I’m not joking. She literally compares herself to Rosa Parks.
All political views aside, here’s what the video’s actually stating: We feel accomplished putting in the minimum amount of effort regardless of whether or not our action yields any result.
Take internships, for example. It’s common knowledge at this point that college students need the right internship. Yes, college students need an internship that will provide applicable experience and exposure that will open the doors to their future.
But merely landing a great internship isn’t enough. If you don’t do everything in your power to completely maximize your experience, you might as well just consider the internship a Facebook filter and call it a day.
Getting a great internship might make you feel accomplished. But if you don’t take real action during your internship to make the most of it, you’ll gain nothing.
Doesn’t Facebook-filter your internship experience? Instead, do this:
In addition to doing your job really well, it’s important to build solid relationships with as many people as possible at the company — everyone from other interns to the chief executive.
Breaking the ice with executives isn’t as intimidating as you’d think. Just make sure you’ve created a good reputation for yourself before you ask an exec for his or her time.
If you’ve built a solid reputation, the exec will likely already know you before you approach him or her.
There are two things you need to know about relationship building. The relationships you build need to be genuine and personal. The relationship you build needs to be more than one sided. You also need to take every opportunity possible to get to know people at the organization. Sit by the CFO during a quarterly meeting. Say yes to lunch with your co-worker.
Focus on personal development
You won’t gain much from your internship by just coming to work every day and completing your assigned tasks. Be competitive. Attack every opportunity to learn as much as possible. It’s a skill in and of itself to perform at a high level.
You’ll accomplish more, see results from your work, and learn a lot more from your internship than you would otherwise. A job will only spoon-feed you so much. The folks that excel in internships, work and life work a bit harder, seek out challenges, and push very hard to impact the organization they are working for.
The key to personal development is knowledge. Learn so much and so well that you can teach others.
In order to successfully leverage your internship experience you’ll need to take responsibility. Don’t come to work with the mindset that you’re new to all of this so someone else is actually responsible for your performance.
Realize that during your internship you’re developing into a business person. You’re going to need to get comfortable with learning while on the job. Don’t ever fall back on the excuse that you’re “just an intern” and therefore not responsible.
The only person responsible for how much you get out of your internship is you. Self-accountability is the one thing you have 100% control over.
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