Daria Kyrilova (daria_k) is a graduating business major at Hult International Business School. She currently interns at New-York based company futurethink, where she gets to combine her passion for innovation and marketing on a daily basis.
By Daria Kyrilova
Months ago, intense job-hunting via Internships.com landed me an internship at futurethink, the world leader in innovation training. My work is fast-paced and exciting, and my daily priorities often change before the morning caffeine hits my bloodstream. From liaising with Fortune 500 clients and creating new products, to seeing a book manuscript through to publication, I’m enjoying my fair share of learning experiences.
“Interviewing candidates for my replacement is painful… yet enlightening.”
As my internship comes to an end, one of its highlights involves gaining access to an area that intimidates so many interns: the interviewer’s seat. Interviewing candidates for my replacement is painful, because I saw all the mistakes I made when applying for internships, yet enlightening, because I see what I got right during my actual internship.
Many candidates I’ve interviewed were great at reciting tangible achievements from their resume, such as completed projects or acquired software skills. However, when answering trickier questions about situations in which they had demonstrated certain professional qualities, they seemed completely lost.
My advice to fellow interns who want to avoid this is: get into the habit of tracking your professional development. Here’s how:
- Set goals. Write down a list of things you want to learn and achieve during your internship. Check it weekly and discuss your progress with your boss. Don’t be afraid to ask him/her for more complex work – they will appreciate your initiative, and you will learn to clearly define your goals, and articulate the steps you plan to take to meet them.
- Identify and solve problems. Missed deadlines, tensions with a colleague or constant miscommunication? Ask yourself the following: whom does this problem affect? What can I do about it? Who can help me? Answering these questions and working to bring your solutions to fruition is a great way to show initiative and train your entrepreneurial capabilities.
- Seek and give feedback. Seeking feedback helps uncover your hidden strengths and weaknesses, and ways to work on them. Giving feedback develops your teamwork and leadership qualities. Remember: learning to give and accept positive feedback is just as important as giving/accepting constructive criticism.
- Talk to colleagues. Taking an interest in your coworkers helps establish a positive working atmosphere and open up networking and mentorship opportunities. However, be aware of the huge difference between genuine interest and self-interest. Remember: no professional relationship is a one-way street!
- Document what you learn. Every day of your internship presents a learning opportunity, which is wasted if you forget what you’ve learned the day after. Find a way to track your achievements (and mistakes!), and record your newly found wisdom in a way that best suits you. Try mindmapping software like MindMeister, note-taking apps like Evernote, or go old school with a notebook or Post-Its.
Developing your professional qualities and learning to articulate them will not only build confidence, it will help you brave the toughest interviews on the way to your dream job. Good luck!