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 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 4 🤷🏽‍♀️ Is a “work life balance” achievable?

If you are new to my platform, HI welcome! You are reading the 3rd post of a series I’ve created for anyone navigating a first job or an internship. The tips provided are from my experience as an intern for various companies throughout the past few years. Specifically in the business + technology industry.

They are intended to help you and support you wherever you are in your career. Thank you so much to all of you for showing me support with this.

Okay, let’s get started…

Something I know a lot of new hires or interns don’t talk about is the work-life shift you go through when starting a new role. You may not be used to the long hour days or some of the sleepless nights. If you’re entering the workforce as a college student, it can be a challenge to adjust to a new environment. By week four you will have a better grasp of what type of schedule works best for you but it can seem a little repetitive. Trust me it’s okay if you feel a little bored of it.

You wake up, get ready, go to work, maybe do a workout, come home, make dinner, have a few hours to yourself, and go to sleep. Now older people may look at this and think “yeah welcome to the real world” but I kind of want to challenge that. Not everyone’s life’s goal is to live that kind of life. Try to remember when you were new to this.

Managing a different type of work pressure and your own life can be a huge adjustment for people. I know for me and other interns it has been. No matter what role I have played in my internships, adjusting to the monotony and fatigue was a process.

Work in itself, regardless of what you do, is really gratifying. Your internship is a huge dopamine rush of gratification to your brain. You’re doing things that are making an impact in the company and you have to learn to disconnect from work and your personal life. Your work cannot be your happiness. It can be really easy to blindly fall into this trap of having work be your only source of happiness. Remember you’re a person beyond the work environment. You spent 40 + hours in your week at work which is a lot of time and sometimes even more than you see your own family or friends.

In your internship, you will experience some work pressure that you’re unfamiliar with. That’s perfectly normal. So many people entering the workforce experience this or even being in the workforce. These are things no one really tells you about working in the real world.

As a student, you have a lot of free time that isn’t as available when you’re working. This is a culture shock for a lot of people and that’s okay. I’ve experienced this in various ways. It’s taken me 3 weeks to get comfortable with a sleeping schedule and a routine that works for me.

Here’s what I’ve learned to do to ease some of the pressure.

Let me know what things you do that I haven’t shared!

  • Unplug: Allow yourself to disconnect from the office when you’re not supposed to be working. I don’t check emails after 5 pm. Once I’m home, I’m home. I like to keep my work life and my personal life separate. I will admit, I do think about the work and carry some of that with me but I try to be present in the time that I have for myself.
  • Figuring out what brings you peace + gratification outside of work. Make sure you spend time, even if it’s just an hour, with yourself doing something you love to do. For me, I love spending time creating content on my platform or on social media. It’s a creative outlet for me to be present with my time and really do something I love to do.
  • Talking to your mentors and managers at work to let them know that you’re adjusting to this new routine. You should be able to be honest to them and let them know that you might be struggling but are looking for ways to find a balance. If work is getting too overwhelming, it’s okay to focus on your immediate tasks and say no to things. It’s okay to let your manager know if your work load is overwhelming. Communicating some of your challenges throughout your internship is a way for them to offer insight as to how they do it. It’s a great topic to talk about in your bi-weekly 1:1s!
  • Giving yourself the permission to make plans with your friends and your family so you’re not so consumed with work. Make time for those people. Sometimes I have a hard time keeping contact with my friends or family when I’m super busy because I’m consumed with creating content or busy with work. They can help put things back into perspective and will anchor you.
  • Making plans that you’re looking forward to. Whether it be something you do after work or on the weekend. It’s okay to enjoy your time outside of your internship. You’re supposed to. Connect with other interns near you or in your program to go on fun adventures. That’ll help bring you back to reality.
  • Leaning in on that support system of yours. Whenever I don’t want to think about anything work related, I have my friends tell me all about their lives and their world to distract me. I make it about them to get my mind off some of the chaos. If you do want to talk to them about a work problem, they may not understand right away because they don’t work the way you do. That’s okay! Confiding in your support system is going to help you stay grounded in who you are and it’s going to ease some of that pressure.
  • As cliche as this sounds but doing something active helps relieve a lot of pressure. You can channel the stress from work into something that makes you feel good. Even walking outside for lunch will brighten up your energy levels. I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves as interns to do the best. It’s great to be perfectionists but you need to find a way to get release that energy.
  • Remember that it’s only 10 or 12 weeks and things do get easier. They’ll be bouts of your internship where you will have a lot to do and other weeks you won’t be as busy. Business is a cycle. You’ll find your balance and your routine. Also so many people go through this. Find solace knowing that you’re not alone in figuring this out.
  • Make yourself a priority. Do at least 3 things for yourself everyday that help you unwind and destress. You need to take care of yourself and it’s so easy to forget and focus on other things but be mindful of what you need to be successful.

In your internship you’re going to meet a lot of other interns who are going through the same thing. You guys grow closer because you’re going through the same experience together. Keep those connections close because when you’re overwhelmed or just need to talk about work they are going to be a huge help.

You should be mindful of how you are treating yourself outside of the workspace.

If you’re reading this and you’re not an intern or never had an internship, do not let this scare you. People create their own “balance” in their own way. Some people have a harder time adjusting and some people adjust really easily. It just depends but it’s good to know that this is something that comes along with an internship too because you’re learning in an applicative setting. I don’t want to intimidate anyone from having an internship because it’s hands down one of the best learning experiences I’ve had. I’ve learned more from my internships than I have in my years in school.

I’ve had a few insightful conversations from people who have been in the industry for 20+ years or people who are just entering it (like myself) and they all have similar experiences. You are going to find what works for you. Remember to take care of your mental health and your physical health before you consider work or school or anything.

Hoping this was helpful. I’m working on some amazing stuff for you guys, I can’t wait to share to all of you really listening ✨

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?