Intern Help Guide Week 7: Interning FAQs ❓

A couple of weeks ago, I asked on my social media (@tkhoub + @isanyonereallylistening) what burning questions people had about internships. I wanted to take the time to answer them in this intern help guide week 7 that I think would benefit you guys through into your internship.

I am a few weeks off on this series because my internship has been super demanding, I’ve been moving, and just a lot has been happening in my personal life. Also, I did a complete rebranding. A post on that is coming very shortly.

If you are new to this series on my blog, hello and welcome. I curated this intern help guide to help anyone going through an internship right now. This is made by an intern for other interns. I have interned in the fin-tech, start-up, and corporate space for the past few years.

Below you will find some of my previous posts about my internship experience. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Intern Help Guide Week 6: Networking 

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

Intern Help Guide Week 4 🤷🏽‍♀️ Is a “work-life balance” achievable?

Intern Help Guide Week 2-3 ⚡️ Things Get Easier

“When should people start looking and applying to internships?”

I’m not a recruiter or hiring manager so every company looks different. Most companies like to start their hiring process EARLY, like, August early. I typically start looking for 10-15 companies I am interested in learning more about a week into my school semester. I have applied to companies who don’t start looking to hire interns until January. But a good time frame to start is August-October. Decisions usually get sent out before or during the holidays. Look for internships based on the role, not the company itself. There are amazing companies out there that may not be the right fit for you. You want to consider the role, the company’s culture/mission, the location, compensation. Have an idea of a role then look at different companies that provide that. It may be the big names or it may not be. Don’t limit yourself because it’s all about getting that real-world experience.

“What is the best way to stand out in an internship?”

Come into your internship ready to learn and grow. Showing genuine interest in your team and work will really help you stand out. Being curious to learn new things, meet new people, and networking with other people in the company shows your passion for the work that you’re doing. Not every aspect of the role is going to be fun. That’s true with anything. You won’t like every class but it’s important to keep in mind that you are here for 10-12 weeks. Make a lasting impression. Be present, be adaptable, and be teachable. Also, don’t forget to be yourself. You are in a professional environment but you can still be an individual. You come to the table with a fresh set of eyes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re lost.

“What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an intern?”

I think one of the things I have been struggling with is feeling like I have to know it all. I don’t want to look dumb or incapable of doing something but there is a lot of new stuff that I know nothing about. There are some expectations your managers have but they do not expect you to know everything right off the bat. Knowing that you will make mistakes and are there to learn has really helped me ground myself. Be open to learning new things. I faced an imposter syndrome too. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be here and that someone else who is smarter or goes to an Ivy league school deserves this more than I do. I had to take a second to identify what I can add. But remember, you are there for a reason. There’s a reason they picked you and be appreciative of every learning moment you get to experience.  You deserve to be in this role and you are doing great.

“I did an internship. Now what?”

To be completely honest this is what I think about a lot. Take time to reflect on the entire experience. What did you learn from this? How did you grow? What did it teach you? and thinking about how you can apply it back to your role as a student or in your next job? You learn about what you like and don’t like about role as you go through the entire experience. Figure out if you see yourself working in that company or a similar role. Apply that awareness when looking at next internships or opportunities. After your internship, maintain contact with some of the people that really stuck out to you. Connect with them on LinkedIn so you know where they’re going and they can see you too

“How do I remain productive when things get boring?” 

Like I said above, you won’t always love what you do. But take every opportunity (yes, even the boring ones) as a chance to learn something. You’re there for a limited time so tough it out. If you consistently aren’t given work you are excited about, have a conversation with your manager of some of the expectations you had going into the internship and some of the areas you want to explore. I’ve been given work where I had to pull data from jumbled up files. It was super tedious, boring, and frustrating but it’s apart of the job. With any role or task, there will be things you won’t enjoy. You’re an intern so you’ll be given “intern” work. People will send you stuff that seems boring or useless but do the work the best way you know how to. If you already have a lot on your plate be honest and say something like “Thank you for considering me for this task, however, I am working on x, y, and z and I need to finish this first”. Learning how to manage your time effectively will help balance your work.

I hope you found this interesting. I will be going on Instagram Live very soon to talk more about these questions and answer any others that you may have.

Intern Help Guide Week 6: Networking

Ah, networking. Everyone talks about it but do you want a few more tips to improve your networking game? Okay, I sound like an infomercial but seriously. Networking is one of those skills that people may overlook until you actually have to do it.

Networking is essential in any work environment. Think of networking as a conversation with someone new. Disregard the person’s title or years of experience. At the end of the day, people are people. It takes a little bit of courage + a little bit of confidence + the tips I am about to show you to network effectively. Most people network FOR something like a job or a contact info but honestly, don’t go into the conversation wanting something. Get to know the person’s story before you ask for anything in particular. Now, if you DO want something from them then be sure to establish a relationship with them first before you ask. Do not go into it being like “Hey new person I have never met before, I’d like a job”. Generally, people are really good at gaging what you want from them so be genuine with your approach. There are ways to open the CONVERSATION for job opportunity but we will get to that later.

Networking is a two-way street. You have to give and be open to receive. Make the conversations meaningful and genuine. 

During your internship, you have 10 weeks. 10 weeks to make new connections with people. Maybe you aren’t too excited to be on the team you’re on and want to see something else within the company. Or maybe you want people to hang out with after the day is over. Whatever the reason is, you’ll need to network with other people.

Trust me it’s scary. You have to put yourself out there in a professional setting. That in itself is super intimidating. But like I said before, networking is just a fancy word for meeting new people. It becomes easier the more you practice it and generally, people are very receptive to genuine people like yourself. 

I’ve broken down 5 different ways to network. From LinkedIn dms, face to face, emails, and more.

Let’s start with an easy one.

How to send a cold email/message

Cold emailing is when you send an email to someone new, that you have never met before in the professional setting. It can be hard to do because you don’t have any connection to this person and you can’t see the non-verbal signs of communicating. You can cold email recruiters, other interns, people you’d like to talk to, virtually anyone you want to learn more about. You can cold 

There are a few rules to this. I have included a template you can use if you want to cold email someone. This isn’t foolproof by any means.

  • Keep it short and sweet
  • Start by introducing yourself, who you are, what you do, what you’re passionate about, and why you want to talk to them or what you want from them essentially. People want to know the why, “why is this person reaching out? who is this person?”
  • If you are inquiring about something, something you can say is “I’d like to learn more about [this program/job/role]. I was wondering if you have 15-30 minutes within this next week to discuss this”.
  • 30 minutes is a great time frame. If it goes over, GREAT but 30 minutes is enough time to get information without taking too much of their time. You can always schedule a follow-up or communicate via email. 
  • Cater to your recipient. You may need to dig deeper to learn more about this person you’re reaching out to. Go on LinkedIn or your company’s employee search engine to find something about them you find interesting. Remember: you are trying to establish a relationship with them. Maybe this is someone who went to your school or pledged in your fraternity/sorority, or maybe they’re on a team you want to learn more about.
  • You need to be a little vulnerable. Show that you are really interested in learning about them and what they are doing. You have to be sincere and if you’re not, then the person won’t be as responsive.
  • Remember: the worst thing that can happen is that they say “No, I don’t want to talk to you” or they don’t respond. Don’t take the “no” so personally. It’s okay, you never know what they are going through and some people can be jerks. It’s an email at the end of the day. You made the effort and you did your part. 

This is a template that you can use when trying to message someone. Cater the message to your needs. If you are wanting to connect with someone from the same organization as you include your role, team, and why you want to meet with this person. At the end of the day, we want to know why. Why should they meet with you? Why should they care?  

This template can be used to reach out to recruiters as well but talking to recruiters is a whole different ballgame. 

Hello [Name of person you are talking to],
My name is Tarlon Khoubyari. I am an information systems student at [School you are attending] (introduced myself) and am very passionate about data analytics, technology, and business. I see on your LinkedIn profile that you are working as a data analyst [Established a connection].  

I am entering the workforce and want to learn more from people like yourself. I was wondering if you had 30 minutes within the next week to chat more about your role. We can chat over the phone or meet up for coffee.

Thank you so much and have a wonderful day.
Warm Regards,
Tarlon Khoubyari

Going into that meeting, come across thankful that they took the time to meet with you. After the meeting, send them an email or a handwritten note thanking them for their time and information. 

In-person networking

This is when things can get awkward but fake it until you make it. Trust me, even the most confident people in the room are nervous about meeting new people. If you are at an event or a networking event, get to know 3-5 people you’d like to follow-up with. Depending on the ask or the reason, some of these people may be good mentors or if you’d like to pick their brain about something. 

  • Body language says it all. There is this great TED Talk I like to watch to be more aware of the body language I give off.
  • Think about the person, not their profession
  • Be yourself. That’ll help you stand out and establish that human connection.

Let’s say you’re at a speaking event and there are a few speakers you REALLY want to talk to. How do you go about doing this? 

You probably won’t have the time to speak to both individually and the last thing you want to do is half-ass a conversation to get to the next person. I’ve seen it happen to me and it’s rude. Figure out the most impactful person that stood out to. 

Walk up to them, smile, shake their hand, and introduce yourself. The first few moments MATTER but they can be a little awkward. First impressions are everything so be mindful of their time. Come in with a couple questions you want to ask. You can say something like “Hi [person], thank you so much for your insight on [blah blah blah]. My name is [your name]. I don’t want to take up too much of your time but I do have a couple questions. [Ask questions]” Once they’re done you can be like “I’d like to reach out for us to chat/meet in the future. Do you have a business card?”.  

Intern Networking

Throughout your internship, you may or may not be working alongside other interns. Most internship programs will schedule meetups, networking events, or social type events for you to connect with other interns within your company. These people will be your friends and will help you get through the experience together.

I’ve met some of my closest friends while interning. You will want to hang out with people when you’re not working. Remember, what I said a couple of weeks ago?

If your company doesn’t host intern events or you don’t know who else is an intern take this opportunity to contact your team leader or campus recruiter and see if there is anyone else. Take the opportunity to meet other people. It improves your entire experience. Chat with people from your school or maybe different schools, don’t limit yourself to just your team/industry and be yourself. 

I’ve carpooled with other interns, went out to fun dinners, and had the best time with people I have met along the way. It can really make you feel less alone. You all experience similar things or will experience something completely different. That’s the best part, your experience and theirs is unique so you can learn from what they’re doing. 

Trust, everyone will be feeling awkward and nervous. This is like the first day of school all over again. We all started a group chat to break the ice a little bit before the internship started to get to know each other more. Some people even found roommates or people to hang out with after work.

Networking is the socially intimidating aspect of the professional world but effective networking can land you lasting relationships, helpful information, and gives you the chance to step outside of your comfort zone.

Next week for week 7 I will be doing a FAQ to answer your burning intern questions, comment below or follow me on the NEW IS ANYONE REALLY LISTENING? INSTAGRAM to ask any questions you have.

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?