Summer Internships are unparalleled in terms of the exposure they can give you to a firm’s culture. There’s also no better way to secure a grad job before heading to your third year. Doing well requires hard work, initiative and a genuine thirst for knowledge.
But you probably already knew that, right? Exactly.
The problem with a lot of advice is to interns is that it’s nothing you couldn’t have ‘learnt’ by simply just whacking in a Google search for ‘internship advice’. It leaves you pretty unsure about what to do, leaving many to figure it out on their own – perhaps when it’s too late. So, what specifically can you do to set yourself apart and do yourself justice? Here are some things that I’ve picked up; I hope they help:
Stay organised with an Excel ‘Priority List’
Internships can feel pretty manic. If you’ve never had exposure to an office environment before, its pretty easy to feel like you’re inundated with looming projects, work due for senior employees and other events. But that’s only if you’re not organised.
The best piece of advice that I’ve been given is to set up a simple Excel Spreadsheet that detail the task and priority of said task. It’s essentially a to-do list on your computer screen. Use a red cell colour for highest priority tasks (that need to be completed as soon as possible/within the day), orange for future reminders (that can be completed within the coming days) and finally, green for those wonderful tasks you’ve completed. It’s really satisfying seeing your spreadsheet turn from a menacing collection of orange and red to a lovely green at the end of the day. It’s only when you prioritise that they seem far more digestible. Don’t get flustered.
Take responsibility over your own learning by blocking out time for independent learning
If you open yourself to it, you’ll learn a tonne during your internship. There can be a barrage of new terms that fly over your head – and that can feel pretty intimidating as an intern as you may feel out of your depth. Use your recognition of that uncertainty as an opportunity to better yourself and really make the most out of the internship. Always bring a notepad and pen to every meeting you attend. If there’s something you don’t understand, or you’d like to explore it further, simply jot it down. I find that using a different colour for these kinds of notes work really well. It makes it a lot easier to identify what the areas of improvement are. Linking to the last point about staying organised, block out some time in your day to go through acronyms and concepts you don’t understand. This is where Google comes in as super helpful – with websites like Investopedia doing a great job to simply break down complex financial jargon.
If that doesn’t help, organise a session with someone to sit down and ask them to explain. You’d be surprised by how many people will be willing to help. In fact, most people will be impressed by your initiative to self-improve and learn what you didn’t grasp at first. Most people will say yes or at worst, facilitate the session by introducing you to other people who can help. It’s only when you grow in your knowledge, that you can grow in your influence as an asset to your team. Knowledge compounds and it feels pretty great to see how far you’ve come as the internship goes by.
Leverage strength in numbers – work with and not against your fellow interns
Great organisations are as such because they have great people working with – and not against – each other. It’s as simple as that. Build good rapport with your fellow interns as it can make the whole process way more enjoyable. Not only will seeing everyone as competition make a bitter and overly-intense person, you are guaranteed to fail during your internship. Teamwork is an absolutely crucial facet of working life. If you prove during your internship that you’re not a ‘people-person’, there’s no chance of you converting your internship. Teamwork makes the dream work.
That’s all from me. Hope you guys learn something from what I’ve written and take it forward. Good luck and spread more advice to others!
Ryan is an incoming 3rd year PPE student at the University of York. This summer he is interning at JP Morgan Wealth Management as a Summer Analyst. At university, as well as his studies, he is Director of BAME and Careers at the UoY Investment & Finance society.