Intern Help Guide Week 5 👩🏽‍💻 Soft Skills They Don’t Tell You About

Soft Skills They Don’t Tell You About

Week 5 is a bittersweet time. You are halfway through your 10-week program. It has FLOWN by. I keep saying that, but it never becomes less true. I hope everyone’s internship experience is going well, and I hope my tips are helping you all make the most out of these 10 weeks.

Soft-skills are the personal, social, and communication skills that ensure your success in the workplace. These are the skills we tend to forget about but are essential in being a well-rounded team member. I narrowed down the ones I noticed a lot of people don’t talk about. I also add in ways to help develop and refine these skills.

  • Problem SolvingIf you are in the technology or business area, you naturally enjoy solving problems. That’s kind of our job but not many people know how to practice it. What helps me is when something is new, I ask a lot of questions. Not at the same time but in a way that helps me understand what it is, who it applies to, and why it matters. From there, I try to find ways I can improve or change it. Problem-solving deals with the Why questions which are personally my favorite ones. They help people think and challenge the way things are done. The problem-solving process will inspire creativity, innovation, adaptability, brainstorming, implementation, and learning. For example, let’s say I am learning about a new business process. I ask the What, the Why, and the How. Then I see if anything in the process is inefficient or unclear. You won’t understand something right away but a part of the problem is getting a clear understanding of the WHY. Once you understand that, you can analyze and make an informed decision about how you want to go about solving it. Be mindful that there are somethings that will remain inefficient. Although it may not make sense to you, the business works that way for a reason. Try to accept that and move forward.
  • Networking

  • There is another post related to this so I won’t go into too much detail about the importance of networking. It seems like an easy one but a lot of people don’t know how to do it effectively. Networking can be super uncomfortable. You face professional rejection and you putting yourself out there can be hard even for us extroverts out there. 🙋🏽🙋🏽🙋🏽🙋🏽  The more you do it, the easier it happens. One of the things that helps me is knowing that the worst thing that a person can say is no. Networking doesn’t just mean cold-emailing people in the company. It requires you to go up to people before and after a meeting. Try to meet someone new and from a different team every single week. If you can, take your laptop to the break area or high areas of traffic to do your work and naturally someone will come up to you or see you. It’ll help you build valuable relationships inside and outside of the company. There is a more extensive post coming soon (or it might already be up).
  • Working with different personalities

  • In college, you pick and choose who your friends are and in classes, you get put into groups for short periods of time. If you don’t want to work with someone, you avoid them or confront them. In the work world, you meet people who you have to interact with on a daily basis. You may be on a project with someone for 6-12 months so some of these people will be your allies and others will be bullies. I am a very sensitive person so when I encountered bullies in my internships I was taken back because I didn’t think they existed. Remember not to take it personally and you never know what someone is going through. You have to bite your tongue sometimes but there are ways to not let the bullies win. Be respectful, open-minded, and do not take things personally. Be someone who you’d want to work with. The energy you put out is the energy you will attract. You have to keep your cool, work hard, and don’t let the small things get to you. Work consumes over 40 hours of your week and there are things that go on outside of work that impact how we interact on the day-to-day. Try to be empathetic and compassionate towards people’s circumstances. You never know what battles they’re facing beyond the workplace.
  • Being Teachable

  • This goes with problem-solving but still an honorable mention. Managers want to know you are teachable, open-minded, and more importantly WILLING to learn new information. BE A SPONGE. Absorb all the newness that comes with your new job or internship. Ask the right questions when you’re learning something new. It’ll show you are engaged and interested. Having a good attitude about the projects and meetings you’re in will show that you are willing to learn new things. Take notes, be attentive, always ask questions, and remain curious. Keep in mind, there will be projects you don’t like to work on. During 1:1’s, be open to recieve criticism. It’ll show that you’re able to receive feedback and don’t be afraid to seek help if you’re stuck.
  • Time Management

  • Time can be your friend or your enemy, you choose. As college students, some of us do a bad job at managing our time. We have big gaps of time between our day usually filled with naps, work, or extracirccualrs 😉. In the workplace, your time is often crunched by due dates or sprints (for my Agile people out there). Managing your time as an intern is going to ensure your project’s success. If you are given something to work on at the end of your internship, create a calendar of what you’d like to get done by the end of the week. Talk to your mentor or your manager to see if this is manageable and if you are making best use of your time. Also, work can get pretty feast or famine. Some days you’ll have a lot more to do than others. Be flexible and if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.

Soft-skills are the “people” skills employers and hiring managers value to see if you are the right fit in their organization. It’s important to understand that you can work on these skills in your day-to-day life too. Being a flexible, well balanced, teachable person is going to help you nail your next job. There are tons of resources out there that can help improve your skills. The internet is your oyster: keep searching.

Intern Help Guide Week 2-3 ⚡️ Things Get Easier

So by week 2 and 3, you will have a better hang of things. You’ll really see who is on your team, have a better idea of what you’re doing, and things will start to make sense. Some of those crazy acronyms will start clicking and you’ll have a lot of “OH I KNOW WHAT THAT IS” moments. Safe to say, I still get lost on my floor LOL.

My week 3 was jam-packed with this thing called PI Planning. Program Increment planning is basically a two-day planning meeting for the next quarter. This is done within an Agile. There is a lot of things that go into it. From logistical stuff to more of the in-depth planning. If your organization follows Agile, which is basically a practice of business to make teams and tasks run more efficiently, you’ll most likely do this. To all the business people: my definition of Agile is broad so don’t come for me LOL.

I will go into a post talking more about Agile but just know that it’s a business practice a lot of companies are switching to in the technology world because of how fast and efficient it can make teams. Technology is being developed at a record fast rate and the business needs to find a way to manage it: Agile. The idea of open floor plans and no cubicles is also the result of Agile.

I learned a lot during that time. It was a really interesting experience to see how all the different tasks came together and how they all related to one another. There are so many teams that depend on another. It’s a crazy experience for sure. I am in sponge mode and took it all in. It was cool to see how everything we were talking about fit into the grand scheme of things. Most people find this stuff boring but I love to see how people work.

Week 2

Week 2 is a great time for you to sit and have your 1:1. Your 1:1 can be with your mentor or manager. Anyone who can give you feedback on your performance, outline your goals, and address any questions or concerns. I schedule mine every two weeks. Feedback is super important no matter where you are in your career. Even executives get feedback. 1:1’s is your time to sit with your manager and talk about YOU. Your internship is your place to learn. This will give you an opportunity to see what you’re doing well and not so well.

  • They shouldn’t be more than 1 hour. 30 minutes is a good time frame.
  • Be prepared. Go in with questions, concerns, or thoughts about your performance.
  • Ask: what can I do to better support the team? what can I do to improve myself in this area? What advice would you give for _________? Who would you recommend I sit and grab coffee with>
  • Set your goals early. If you are in a technical role, mix it between technical and non-technical skills. Soft skills matter too. You should have 5-7 goals for your internship. At the end of your internship, you should have a few things you can take back with you to school or in another job.
    • For example, I want to improve my confidence in speaking to people in executive positions or I want to develop strong relationships within the company

You may hear some stuff you may not like. Don’t take it personally and ask how you can improve. If they say you’re doing great and you don’t anything to improve on, ask them how you can support your team better. There is always something that can be improved on.

Week 3

By week 3 you’ll have a pretty clear idea of how the rest of your summer will look like. You are almost at that halfway mark, YAY!!!! ⭐🍾🔥 Can you believe how fast it’s going?

  • Set up time with other people from different teams to really get to know the company but make sure it doesn’t interfere with your work. Ask the people on your team to see who they would recommend you to meet with. It can be your business partners, engineers, analysts, anyone. 30 mins for coffee or a lunch is fine.
  • Great a timeline of your project, what needs to get done, and when. You have deliverables to meet by the end of your internship. Make sure the right questions are being asked
  • The end of week 3 and around week 4 you’ll start to see where you fit within the company. You won’t have to give a response right away but ideally, you’ll know whether or not you want to come back to this company as a full time or returning intern. Be honest with yourself. Does this job or this company speak to what you stand for? Is the work fulfilling?  Sometimes the team may not be the team for you but the company is. There’s no rush in figuring that out but you should start thinking about it.

I hope all of your internships are going well. I heard a lot of positive feedback from the first week and I am so glad I get to share my experiences with you all. Thank you to everyone listening. I love hearing from you guys on Instagram. If you don’t already, please follow me @tkhoub for more Is Anyone Really Listening?

Intern Help Guide Week 1 💪🏽 How To Get The Most Out Of Your Internship

This new series on my blog is going to share some helpful insights into making the most out of your internship experience. Internships are an amazing opportunity for you to get real-world, hands-on experience in the area you’re studying or interested to study. They are also considered your 10-week interview for the company you’re working for. It’s the company’s way of seeing if you’d make a good fit and also for you to see if you’d want to work there. Companies typically will send an offer to come back or a full-time job within 2-6 weeks after your internship is over but every organization is different. I am going to start this series on my blog to share my insights on my internship. These insights do not include any sensitive company information and only reflect my opinions, observations, and insights.

I’ve had 3 internships so far and a handful of other jobs so I’m pulling in insight from those experiences as well. I’ve worked in fin-tech/the financial services, consulting, and technology but my understanding of internships can be applied to any industry.

Week 1 Guide: Tips and Tricks to Master Your Internship 

Internships can be overwhelming. You walk in not knowing anything, not knowing anyone, and will probably get lost. It’s like the adult version of the first day of school. But congrats if you secured a solid internship! This is huge and important so congrats. Keep in mind everyone’s experiences are different so my advice and insight is intended to help you. If you have anything that I may have missed, comment down below I’d love to hear from you.

Whether this is your very first internship or you’re an intern pro, there’s always room to grow and learn more.

  • For the first few weeks, be a sponge. Absorb as much as you can and LISTEN.
  • You won’t know everything and that’s okay. Honestly, you won’t know anything but again that’s perfectly okay because no one expects you to know everything.
  • Dress professionally but comfortably. I made the mistake this week to break in new heels on my first real day of work. My feet are still screaming. You want to make a good impression and dress presentable but be practical. I wear slides to work and put my heels on in the car. Being comfortable will make you feel better and make you look a lot more presentable. Even if your team is a bit more lax, dress business casual.
  • Bring a notepad or journal with you everywhere. If you hear something you don’t know, jot it down and ask the question later. Keep track of your tasks, people on your team, take notes, etc. It’s great to have and taking notes helps keep you engaged.
  • Ask questions. If you don’t know, ask. But keep in mind people are super busy but are willing to help you. Use Google to your advantage. Most internship programs will have a mentor system so you can always reach out to your mentor to ask the “how”/”what” questions.
  • Finding a routine that works for you can be hard. Waking up at 6 am, working a whole 8-hour shift, working out, meal prep, social life, self-care, all of that will somehow need to fit into a 24-hour timeframe. If you go from staying up late and waking up at 10 am like I did, you are in for a rude awakening. It’s going to take awhile to get used to a routine that makes sense for YOU. Some of my fellow interns can wake up super early and workout, good for them but I can’t. I’m sure I could but I don’t want to. I like my sleep. But be patient and try to figure out what looks the best for you. Be flexible and be open to adjusting. It’s not going to be easy at first but it’ll click within the first 1-2 weeks.
  • Schedule 1:1’s with your manager every two weeks. Feedback is super important and if you’re in a 10-week internship it’ll go by fast. You want to set up times with your boss or whoever can accurately give you feedback on your performance. This will help the learning experience and also gives you a chance to build a relationship with the people you work with.
  • Shadow someone on your team that does what you might be working on. Sit with them for an hour or two (if they are willing or have time) and be like “hey, I was wondering if I can see how you organize or what things you use” or “Hey I’m interested in learning more about x,y, and z. Can I shadow you for an hour to learn more about it?”
  • When you get home and a topic/concept is confusing, do some research. You shouldn’t expect the company you’re working for to teach you everything. You want to do as much research on your own to be prepared. Google, UDemy, Youtube have a bunch of free resources for you to dive into and get a good understanding of things that you might be confused about.
  • If you’re overwhelmed– trust me, everyone else is too. You’re not alone. Everything is new and new can be intimidating. Lean into what you don’t know and be honest with yourself. It’s okay if you don’t know something, you aren’t expected to. You’re new to the job. People are a lot more understanding than you think.
  • Use every opportunity that may be intimidating as an opportunity to learn something new. Be invested in the 10 weeks you’re there. You might be at this company for only a short amount of time so use their resources as much as possible to enrich your professional life.

These are some of the things to keep in mind as you start your new internship. Again, congrats! This is a big deal and you should be really proud of yourself. Companies see THOUSANDS of applicants and YOU got chosen. Use your time as best as you can and don’t be too pressured to know everything. You won’t and that’s okay. You’re there to learn. It’s a learning-ship. LOL I tried.

I will be sharing my insights every week so keep coming back. We can go through this together 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽

Self-Care Sunday: Anthony Bourdain

TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, depression, mental health.

If you are triggered or might be triggered by any of these topics do not feel obligated to read this post, I understand. There are plenty of other posts that I am confident you can connect with. If you need someone to talk to, my email or dms are always open. Someone is really listening.

In the past week, two legends chose to leave our world. When it comes to suicide or sudden death, there is no good “why” and it can be hard to understand why someone would make the choice to end their own life. Suicide hits close to home for me. A friend of mine this past September took his own life. I’ve been candid in speaking about him on my platform. Tony was one of my best friends. I didn’t see it coming and I wish I knew. I miss him every single day and pray that his heart is at peace.

Rest in peace to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. There is so much that can be said about these two people. Kate Spade showed us that color and creativity can be a girls best accessory. Every time I unzip my Kate Spade wallet, I am reminded of her legacy and her impact. It pains me that her world wasn’t colorful

Anthony Bourdain used food, cuisine, and culture as the medium to show us that our global neighbors aren’t as different from us as we may think. My heart truly aches over the loss of these beautiful people. During the worst times of my eating disorder, Anthony Bourdain reminded me of my love and passion for global cuisine. He made the darkest parts of my struggle brighter.

This self-care Sunday is dedicated to them and to the millions of people who struggle with their own demons. Know that there is someone really listening. My email inbox is always open to anyone who wants to reach out. I will respond with open arms and I promise you are loved, I am here, and you are not alone. I promise that there is someone listening or who is willing to listen.

Data shows that in the months subsequent to celebrity suicides, suicide rates increase. Some people don’t feel comfortable talking to a hotline or a stranger but if you are going through this and feel like you have no one. There are people waiting for you to reach out. It takes a lot of courage to do so. So if you reach out to me or anyone or call this 1-800-273-8255 number, I am so thankful.

I want to point out that social media can be a toxic environment with anyone dealing with any level of a mental health issue. Social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives. We choose to put our happiest moments on there because we all want to be accepted and we all want to fit in somehow. It’s in our nature to have a sense of belonging to a group of people or someone. If you don’t find that in your physical community, there are millions of communities within reach by a few taps on a screen. So naturally, we are drawn to it. I catch myself doing this sometimes where I find myself posting a picture or a moment out of obligation. Since part of my job is to portray myself on social media, I feel like I have to always have it together when I don’t. I’m here to say that I wake up 99% of the time not knowing what the hell I’m doing. Sometimes I post things when I don’t feel the best about myself. I’ve even gone back to edit some instagram captions to point out the state I was in. I realized that I was being inauthentic when someone recently reached out to me and went “I love your page. You’re so positive”. I corrected them by saying “Thank you but I’m struggling right now. It’s not always positive”.

These celebrities who took their own lives should make us realize that no matter how successful you are or what your job is, you’re a human being and you are allowed to feel like the world is crumbling around you. They had all the resources at their fingertips but at the end of the day, but still made the choice to take their own lives. There are things all of us go to bed with and it can be overwhelming.

I think we need to live more authentically about the battles we go through because I feel like we’d be a lot more connected. I think our society is so polarized right now by political affiliation or these social identities that we forget the person we are judging is a human being too. We can’t wear these capes all by ourselves. We aren’t superheroes and even superheroes have weaknesses. I am so tired of this notion that we have to have it together all the time.

What saddens me about Anthony Bourdain is that he had the dream job: to eat, travel the world, and tell stories about forgotten places. When Bourdain had an episode of Iran I was so excited because finally, the world gets to see how amazing iranian cuisine is. It was like Anthony was enjoying the same bowl of Persian food I grew up. I felt connected to him. Other episodes of his made me more connected to the world around us. I felt a bit less alone. My cousin and I would sit and watch him while enjoying some amazing homecooked food. His authentic, creative, and unifying approach to storytelling reminded me why I love cuisine in the first place. The most communal moments happen when you can break bread with someone. His episode with Barack Obama was one of my favorites. Something about seeing the president of the United States sitting on a plastic stool in a foreign country made me so happy. Like I said before, Bourdain made food less intimidating for me. He tried pretty much everything and he was a scholar of culture. I always say food is the best vessel to experience culture and I am thankful to Anthony for showing us that.

We never knew. I think when you live on such a public stage you can’t come out and say you’re depressed. There are so many stigmas surrounded around mental health and the internet can be so mean. People will attack you for being human and until you are in their shoes you will never understand that pressure. We label people as crazy and until we can talk about mental health within our own communities and help one another, we can’t be surprised when people pass. I’m hopeful. It starts within our small communities. In the people we surround ourselves with. Checking in on a friend out of courtesy is useless. We should always make the time for our people so that when something is really happening they know someone is really listening.

As always, I am really listening. I never knew my brand name or the title of my blog could be such an important question. It’s becoming embedded into everything I do. Making sure that everyone around me or whoever is reading this feels connected in someway. This is my why. This is why I asked the question because it can feel like no one is. So I am.

What I’ve Learned From: Moving

To sit here and pretend like moving doesn’t put me in a complete panic would be a total lie. I’m currently sitting in my new Charlotte apartment writing this and frankly, I am freaking out. As happy and excited I am for the future the initial thoughts/moves of moving is scary. I uplifted from a place that I didn’t consider home but still had a really large impact in my life. The relationships, the people, the lessons, all of it shaped me into the woman I am today. To think I have to start this all over in a new city is somewhat terrifying. Greensboro was where some of the most painful things happened to me and I can only imagine the types of challenges I am going to face in a brand new city.

I write this during a time where I know a lot of people are going through this too. Trust me, you’re not alone. Whether you’re moving an hour away or 100 miles away, moving is really intimidating but what’s helped me is knowing that the people in my life have done this before. My parents, for example, moved from Iran when they were in their late teens, didn’t know much English, and had to figure out a brand new culture. Also, they didn’t have social media or facetime like we do so they couldn’t talk to their parents or family as easily. I can only imagine their level of anxiety they must have felt during that.

It offered me comfort thinking about that during one of the last nights in Greensboro. I was sitting with myself, with a candle lit, and just prayed. I spoke to God about a lot of things but the common theme was: I’m doubting myself if I am doing the right thing and I need some guidance. I promise it was a lot more in depth but that’s the jist of it.

I thought about the people before me who did this and were able to build the life I have for me and my brother. I use this as fuel for the passion inside of me because I know there are going to be challenging obstacles but they will lead to a better future for myself and my future family. I feel called to do some really amazing things and I am putting that out into the universe and internet so it’s going to happen. My parents and aunts/uncles did this so why can’t I? Also, people move to new places all the time and do just fine. This is apart of being an adult. It’s different that’s why it’s scary. The newness of a situation can scare us the most. There isn’t anything actually scary about moving or settling in. What’s scary is the fact that it’s new. Knowing that makes everything less awful. Sometimes the things that are new to us can cause us the most stress. But think about it, the tasks that were new to us when we were younger are so natural to us now. Think about the time you learned to ride a bike, or jumped off a diving board, or even presented in front of a class. The more you do it the less the new stuff scares you. But again, it’s totally valid to feel scared or overwhelmed. It’s intense. So I’m here with you and I totally get it.

This week also was really hard because 8 months ago on September 3rd, 2017 my best friend Tony committed suicide. Knowing he’d be out of the military in June hurts because he and I always spoke about being together again. Tony was a brother to me so the third of the month is always especially hard. Not to mention I was moving, packing, and was all over the place. I was there the day Tony left for basic training.

Leading up the actual moving date I wasn’t as anxious or as sad as I thought I’d be. Again, in this What I’ve Learned From: April I speak openly about what this past month taught me and so far, I am learning that May is going to be a serious transition month. A lot of people around me are going through it too which is comforting. Graduation and new internships have been the common theme around me. Some of my friends can handle moving so well and I envy them but for me, it’s hard because this is whole new city with a new set of challenges. I hope to look back at this in 6 months and see that it wasn’t as bad as I think it is.

I’m really focusing my energy on the good ahead but it’s hard not to think about the people you leave behind. I was always super excited about leaving Greensboro and starting over but now that it’s actually happening. It’s new for me and new can be scary. 

I also need to remind myself that I am not on the most conventional path. I’m a junior, in a brand new city, doing classes online, working for a consulting company, working as an intern with one of the largest banks in the whole world, and I’m working on a brand. I don’t need a cookie or a sticker and I’m not saying this to brag but my path is no way conventional. Most people don’t just get up and leave in the middle of undergrad to a new city and do all of this stuff.

I’m not special but what I am doing is different. Or at least different from what has been around me. My immigrant parents always valued education. Education. Education. Education. It’s been a mantra that has been beaten into me since I was a kid. It took for me to leave and go to college to really understand that I can still graduate AND have other passion projects or jobs I am really interested in. I never want to be one of those people that work 20 years at a job they hate. Why would I? That’s such a waste. Thankfully, I love my major and the field I’m in so whatever position I do end up in post-grad will be something I thoroughly enjoy. Will my degree be the reason I get that job? God, I hope not because I feel like the piece of paper we get after 4 or 5 years of school just gives us the credibility to learn in that new job. I can write a whole post on this topic alone but I am getting a bit off topic.

I apologize in advance for the casual tone of this whole post but I’m really trying to get whoever is listening to hear that if your path is unconventional, it’s okay and if you’re freaking out like I am, it’s normal because it’s different. Again, different is different. It’s not good or bad. It just is. If you feel lonely while you’re moving, I hear you. 

Trusting myself and the choices I made makes me realize that I am doing the right thing and I have to be okay with some of the consequences that come with deciding to move too.

Happy Wednesday!