Thrive in Your Upcoming Co-op, Internship, or Full-time Job
This week, we talked to our two Student Impact Award winners, Libby Woods and Noah Sheridan, about what it takes to be successful on the job.
What did you do to prepare for your work experience?
Libby: Once I had been offered a position, I reached out to my supervisor and tried to gain as much understanding about that projects that I would be working on as I could. When I understood what I would need to know, I did my own readings and research. I even bought books on quality management and lean management systems. This helped me be able to be best prepared as possible for day 1 on the job.
Noah: Before my internship I researched the company and some of the technology behind the appliances I could be working on. A week or so before my start date was introduced to my supervisor and given my main project details. I did some more research on the subject matter to go in with background knowledge.
What are some things you did the first day and week on the job to help best get acclimated?
Libby: Off the bat I met with many people in different areas of the company to understand the business better, as well as my coworkers. Having connections with many people early was very instrumental in me being able to be successful in my project. My first week I asked SO MANY questions. There were a lot of things about my project as well as the company that I did not know, and I wanted to build that understanding early on.
Noah: First week on the job I tried to introduce myself to all the members on the team and participate in any conversations whether they are casual or technical. Initially, I was nervous to participate in technical discussions, but I pushed myself to share my ideas even if they ended up being incorrect. This was my first internship, so I was constantly asking questions and trying to understand the way my team members would work through problems. The better I understood how the appliances work, and how to root cause a problem, the more I would be able to participate my own ideas to discussions. This made asking questions and always looking to learn a major key to becoming more comfortable and successful as an intern.
What are some things that you did during the experience that made you most successful?
Libby: I think that networking and really getting to know people throughout the company was what made me successful on a project that had such a wide scope. It would have been
impossible for me to learn every in and out of every department on my own. However, by making connections and collaborating with others, I knew who to collaborate with and when.
Noah: I think the main thing that made my internship experience successful was going into projects and tasks with a focus on learning. When something didn't make sense, I would ask questions and discuss the matter until it did. Additionally, I would talk to other members of my team to help with tasks or problems. This allowed me to branch out from my main projects and get a more thorough understanding of the team's project. Additionally, I participated in an optional innovation drive with another intern. This experience pushed me to apply everything I was learning during the rotation as well as present my own work to employees other than my team, a nerve-wracking but developmental experience.
Is there anything you did at the end or after the experience that you feel was essential to continued success?
Libby: I think there are two types of continued success that I considered at the end of my co-op. First, the continued success and longevity of the quality management system developed was extremely important. A big part of the end of my co-op was planning out exit strategy and information sharing. Any intern or co-op student should consider the way that they track and document their work, and how others will be able to download and interact with the information when they are gone. I spent time making informational documents and guidelines, as well as hosting trainings for members of the executive team on how they would engage with and maintain the system after my departure. Second, I considered my personal continued success in my professional career. I kept my resume updated with the work I had done, kept any non-confidential copies of certifications I had earned or received, and did ask for a recommendation from my supervisor. I am also a huge advocate for LinkedIn - so I made lots of connections with my coworkers on there!
Noah: During my internship, I gave a final presentation on the projects that I worked on, and the things I learned. After my internship I updated my resume and used this presentation to gather the most important experiences and outcomes from the rotation, which would be meaningful for future references.
What is the number one piece of advice you would give to students starting their first internship or co-op experience this summer?
Libby: Engage with your work and company in every way that you can to get the most out of the experience.
Noah: Don't be afraid to ask questions, participate your ideas, and go after additional projects and experiences.
"Opportunities don't happen. You create them." - Chris Grosser