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.