“Dignity is as important as money, career, education, and spirituality; it’s important both in the internship for the students and through the workplace.” – Robert J. Khoury expanding our network and seeking out diverse perspectives, we can gain valuable insights that help us overcome decision-making challenges.” – Timothy Welch
In this episode, I interviewed Robert J. Khoury, the co-founder, and CEO of Agile Rainmakers, a high-impact business development consulting and advisory firm based in Chicago’s Gold Coast, and we talked about how engineering students can maximize their engineering internship by taking a deeper look into the importance of setting expectations, effective communication, establishing routines, and building professional relationships that can last beyond the internship.
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Maximizing Your Engineering Internship:
- The first step to optimizing an engineering internship experience is knowing yourself, knowing what you want to learn and what you want to do, and making sure the internship you said yes to is aligned in some way with your interests. When you accept the offer for an internship, ask if you can set up a 20- to 30-minute call every six weeks with your manager to learn more about the firm, the project you will be working on, what you can do to prepare better, and develop your relationships with the manager. It’s highly recommended to clear your schedule; you will need to communicate with your parents, relatives, close friends, extracurricular activities, and voluntary organizations, and let everybody who needs to know that you are giving your all during the internship because it is your highest priority.
- As an intern, it’s essential to remain coachable. This entails active listening and embracing feedback graciously, while also being thankful for the lessons you learn. However, it’s not just about achieving success and securing an offer, but rather about playing the right game. This entails contributing value to the firm, making your manager look good, assisting fellow interns, and potentially improving the experience for future interns.
- To ensure a successful internship experience effectively, communicate the status of your work. By having an open and honest conversation with your manager, you can clarify what tasks you will complete and set expectations. Creating a plan to accomplish these tasks with a thoughtful approach and setting deadlines before the end of the internship can help you finish with impact. It’s also important to show appreciation by writing a handwritten thank-you note to your manager and anyone else you worked with, and following up with them to stay connected after the internship is over.
- To maintain strong professional relationships beyond the internship, it’s recommended to stay in touch with your colleagues. You can achieve this by periodically reaching out to them through a call or email to update them on your progress, current projects, and how the internship has impacted your career. It’s essential to keep the communication lines open as managers appreciate hearing about their former interns’ lives after the internship ends. Avoid only contacting them when you need something; instead, focus on building genuine relationships based on mutual interests and benefits.
- For students, finding a routine or process during their internship can be beneficial for their success. Academic routines are familiar, so by establishing a new routine in the workplace, they can feel grounded and make progress. With a routine in place, they can track their growth and see themselves improving, resulting in a sense of accomplishment. Having a well-established process can help them complete tasks more efficiently, which leads to increased productivity and better time management.
- Treating interns with dignity sends a signal that they are valued and respected, leading to better communication, enhanced performance, and ultimately, excellent results. When interns feel appreciated and recognized, they are more likely to be motivated to perform well, resulting in unexpected positive outcomes. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that interns feel welcomed and respected in the workplace as it can impact their overall experience and performance during the internship.
- Internship outcomes may include acquiring new skills, utilizing new tools, producing valuable results, building professional connections, and receiving appreciation from your manager for a job well done. These outcomes can provide a sense of achievement, contribute to personal and professional growth, and potentially lead to new career opportunities.
- Journaling and self-reflecting are highly recommended. Notice what you say to yourself and notice how things go over time. It’s useful for self-discovery and the opportunity for growth and development. You need to take any failure straight on and be kind to yourself.
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