Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin
The idea of internships to prepare you for employment is a modern concept, internships have become a function of, “Let me, in a short time, gain knowledge, experience, and insight, that will help me make a decision based on my long term goals” rather than to just earn money. The experience has improved greatly for the intern and the employer as well. At Southwest Michigan First, we place great importance in creating and implementing an impactful summer for each of you.
So, to start, do not think for one moment that you are here merely by happenstance; we personally selected you to join our team for a season. We selected you because of your strengths, talent and fit. You went through the same, although slightly abbreviated, hiring process that we all did to join this team. When you look in the mirror, please see yourself as a colleague. We selected you because we believe in you, your potential and the impact you will someday have. It is our hope that if you do not come to work with us after graduation, you join an organization that cherishes you and allows you to utilize what you have learned with us.
And while you are here please do not forget the principle (man, this is cliché) that you have two ears and one mouth. Absorb every bit of knowledge and nuance and culture and wisdom that you can. Pay attention to the details of how people act, behave and interact in the workplace and with each other. You will probably gain more from being a sponge to these details than from the actual projects you are assigned this summer.
My final advice is to exit well. Exiting well is important, the memorable interns to me have been those that come in, sit down, and have said, “Hey, let me debrief. Here’s what I learned this year, here’s what I really found valuable. What can I do to thrive? Thank you for the experience, I hope that in the future if there’s an opportunity that you’ll think of me, but equally I hope that you will agree to be a reference for me in the future.” Unfortunately this does not happen often, I see many cases where you all get to the end, have your bite of cake and wander off leaving us to think, “Wow, did we just waste our time?” Several months later you might pop up and want a reference but unless you fostered relationships while you were here it will be difficult to kindle them in the future. I leave asking you this, please do your part: show up to add value to the team, soak up every bit of information and leave exceptionally well. And oh, by the way, this should be fun.
Question: When is the last time you have shared meaningful conversation with someone within the organization you are interning for? How can you better immerse yourself in the organization’s culture?