Maximizing Your Internship

Hello, everyone!

Just an update on my internship, I am going on week 6 of my 13 week period of time at Dana. Being a returning intern has allowed me some great insights and opportunity with the company, many of which I would have never expected as an intern in a decent sized fortune 500 business. In addition to that, it has also helped me learn some of the best practices in order to maximize your internship and aim towards that overall goal of getting a full-time job.

With that being said, let’s discuss that big project you may have gotten assigned.

At Dana, I am working in their Aftermarket business unit and have been assigned 5 different projects ranging in level of difficulty and size. Some of these projects are what some would refer to as “boil-the-ocean” types which are designed to see how you deal with an ambiguous problem and the steps you take to finding an answer effectively. A common criticism of college students and interns nowadays is that we cannot handle the unknown and that we need our hands held in the form of step by step instructions in order to accomplish something. This is where these ambiguous project come in. When you get one of these assignments, don’t worry. They just want to see how you cope with it and the way you approach/process/plan. With that, my tip is to break things down piece by piece and then focus in and work until you can find a way to fix each part and fit it together. Sure, you won’t have a perfect answer, but that’s not nearly as important as your analysis and problem-solving skills when it comes to these types of issues.

The next thing that will help your internship is utilizing your resources.

Reach out to your managers when starting your projects and take an initiative. Ask if they want to have weekly meetings to check in, or how they would prefer you to communicate with them and start building up that rapport early on. Make sure that you are getting those much-needed criticisms and recommendations, as well as their opinions on your plan, drafts, and the progress thus far. Most likely your manager will be the one signing off on your final product and critiquing it, so the more that they support what you’re doing, the better it will fair for you in the end.

Another quality that coincides with communication is leadership.

Take the initiative, don’t be afraid to raise concerns that you may have. Sitting in a meeting with your manager or other important people and speaking up about how you may have a better way or an idea on how to fix something is one of the best things. It will show that you are leading your own project and are committed to the work and its completion. Employers will take note of that. They want people who want to make a difference and be initiative, not those who will sit back and say “We’ve always done it this way, so why change it now?”.

My last tip for this post has to do with the culture and fit of the company.

A big part of what you’re going to get out of this internship and how others perceive you have to do with how you interact with the company and how you fit. Everyone knows you’re an intern and everyone is watching and giving their input. With that being said, make sure that you’re interacting positively with your fellow interns and the full-time employees that you will be working with. Once again, take an initiative to get to know people and show an interest in what they’re doing and what opinions that have about your project. Participate in service events and tag along for any social events that you may have been invited to. All of these things show that you truly care about your work and the company. A common mistake people make is thinking that your future career is all about what a company can do for you, but in reality it’s the complete opposite. While a company will do everything they can to help you to learn they too expect you to give a lot back. They want a hard worker who will give back to the job, the community, and the overall goals of the company.

Keep this in mind when looking for internships and jobs. Make sure that a company is a good fit professionally and culturally, otherwise, you won’t be motivated to take that extra step to go above and beyond.

These internships are meant to be a job “try-out” so take advantage of that. You owe it to yourself to make the most of it and learn all that you can about yourself and your respective companies. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Thank you all for reading and I will come back at you soon with posts about socializing as an intern and dealing with those slow work weeks when your project is in a lull.



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