Are you going to intern somewhere this summer? Or are you planning to do that after your graduation? Never done it in your life? Are you willing to improve your “internship hunting capabilities”?
If so, you are just looking at the right column!
For two months I will be telling you everything about the internship, both in terms of technicalities, like the CV and the cover letter, and of attitudes, like energy and autonomy.
In a midsummer’s time: a midsummer’s internship guide. Today we’re going deep into the “Management of Yours” issue!
L for Life Skills
You have just reading “L” word of this column, when the “survival” topic suddenly comes to your mind. Actually, you’re close to the truth: “Life Skills” are essential to “survive” in the career world. They’re so important to be assessed regularly by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) thanks to the ALL (Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey). Many definitions of Life Skills do exist; according to the OECD, they’re the right mix of knowledge, behaviour, attitudes and values that makes the “skillholder” able to:
- Act in autonomy;
- Work in socially mixed teams;
- Use tools interactively.
More explicitly, they include: ability to organise, adaptability, cooperation on a democratic basis, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, social and communication skills. Where can you learn them? At school: in interpersonal relations and teamwork, but especially outside your class by joining students’ associations and doing voluntary work. In The Queen’s words, “the show must go on” later: at the workplace. Since Life Skills are a matter of life, don’t be afraid of “making your hands dirty”: practise makes perfect!
M for Management of Yours
Your tutor went away from the office assigning you many tasks to do. You’re desperate: frankly speaking, you don’t know what to begin with. Here you are a ready-to-use recipe for desperate interns:
- Relax and take it easy;
- Order the tasks according to their urgency and importance;
- Write a list of priorities;
- Start working on them;
- Reminder: manage your time, in order to meet company goals on time.
These 4 steps can be summarised in 3 words: “Management of Yours”.
Being an intern doesn’t mean being hired (only) to “obey orders”. Indeed, you work for a company, not for the National Army, don’t you? The pillar of the “Autonomy” described in the first issue of this column is exactly: “Management of Yours”. Still, it is the landmark for “Management of Others”: leading a team in your future career. How can you do that if can’t manage yourself? Paraphrasing Bob Dylan, you may (not) be “forever young”, but definitely “forever junior” if you can’t manage yourself. It is worth starting, doesn’t it?
N for Naturalize to the company
You’ve been cast away in an unknown place: “Companyland”. Not so unlikely as it may seem. It happens to you once you start an internship: being hosted in a microcosm with its own way of life, story, myths, values and traditions. In 2 words: its “Company Culture”. If you don’t naturalize to the company, you’ll end up being isolated: not a good start both for your career and for the day-by-day teamwork within the company. To deal with this “naturalization issue” you should:
- Look carefully what your colleagues do and how they do it both in formal situations (such as meetings) and in informal ones (like coffee breaks);
- Act according to what you have observed;
- Ask yourself whether it is consistent with yourself.
Let me conclude with a fun fact and a warning:
Fun fact: a parody of the naturalizing behavior is provided by Woody Allen in his 1983 film “Zelig”, where the protagonist Leonard Zelig keep on adapting wherever he goes, due to a lack of his own identity (Zelig syndrome, from the homonymous movie).
Warning: if you were forced to act like Leonard Zelig in your internship, ask yourself if you have worked in the “right place for you”. Or, at least, if it is worth paying this “identity-price” (see “Jack-in-the-box”).
By Valentina Magri, MA student in Management at Bocconi University