A few months back, I received great news from the co-op program regarding my application for Digital Marketing Communications Specialist Intern position at SAP. After hearing such wonderful news, I experienced a mix of emotions ranging from excitement along with self-doubt. In the past, I have always described myself as the most non-tech-savvy person in the room. Getting into one of the largest technology companies in the world, I couldn’t help but doubt my abilities. Moreover, the role required graphic design experiences such as proficiency in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Having no previous experience in the field further made me nervous. However, I reevaluated my goals and put on a “lifelong learner” hat, and here I am, making the most out of my internship at SAP!
So, how do you get the most out of your internship? Here are five things I picked up along the way:
1. JUST ASK!
I came from a country where asking can be perceived as a sign of disrespect. If you ask a question in class, you will probably be mocked after.
I learned the concept of “the power of asking” which has changed the way I do tasks and perform at work. The biggest reason why most people don’t try to ask for what they want is fear. On the contrary, however, asking is a pathway to opportunities. If there is any particular area that you want to learn more of or are really interested in, ask your manager or colleagues if you can get involved in any way. This will show that you are taking initiatives and being proactive. As the proverb goes, “you can’t get what you don’t ask for.”
2. It’s OK Not to Know Everything
Another important lesson is that it’s ok not to know everything. An internship is a trial and error game. You do it because you want to know whether the job is the right fit or not. Good employers should understand that you are still learning and should appreciate that you are asking questions. Asking the right questions will allow you to learn even more and get the most out of your internship experience!
3. X = Y
There are two parts to the equation: input (X) and output (Y). If you want to make the most out of it, you must be willing to put a little extra effort. This includes taking on new projects, expanding your professional network, as well as focusing on personal development. For example, one of my goals while working at SAP is to get involved in something new such as managing an interactive IoT wall project or taking extra hours experimenting with different design tools.
4. Learn How to Say “NO”
Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize. When you are hungry for opportunities and want to try different things, you might end up having an uncontrollable amount of workload on your plate. This can be a double-edged sword. Saying no to projects that don’t align with your goals provides you with the ability to prioritize what is important and allows you to perform at your very best. Focus on things that will help you learn and grow as a person.
5. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
An internship is one way to find out what you’re really good at and what you’re not. There are multiple routes to achieve this, including asking your manager for a one-on-one session, talk to your colleagues about your performance, or self-evaluation at the end of each work term! Use your internship as the opportunity to identify your gap and leverage your strengths accordingly. If you’re only playing to your strengths, you might end up being in your comfort zone and not challenging yourself to grow.
In summary, there are multiple approaches to get the most out of your internship experience. The mentioned five points were just the tip of the iceberg. To all the co-op students out there, what are your game-changing strategies? Please feel free to leave comments below and I look forward to hearing more of what you’re doing!
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