- Ask for help
As a new employee, you will have to learn new skills and information about how work is done at your company. It is completely acceptable and expected that you will need assistance. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Quite the contrary, it is a sign of a confident professional.
- Decide on KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
When meeting with your manager, discuss how you will measure results for your project. Communicate that you want to make an impact and select a measurable outcome, such as faster processing speeds, 5% more leads, or a 2-point increase in customer satisfaction. Find or make a system to measure it. Tip: “better” is not specific enough to be a KPI.
- Seek input
Teamwork and collaboration are key characteristics of the U.S workforce. Depending on where you are from, you may prefer to work individually. In the U.S., strive to review your work with others often, even when you think you’re right. For example, you could ask, “would you mind providing me with some feedback on the first draft of the marketing plan I created?”
- Ask thoughtful questions
Don’t just complete tasks to check them off your list. Ask thoughtful questions about your projects. You may ask: “Who will ultimately be consuming what I am producing?” or “How does this task further the goals of our project?” Asking these types of questions will help you better understand and serve your customer.
- Own your accent
Some international students worry that they may be too shy for U.S. standards. Some worry about their accents. Relax! Remember the basics: smile and express your gratitude to others often. Make an extra effort to communicate any way you can instead of apologizing for your accent.
- Be engaged
You don’t need to speak up all the time. For example, it is okay to take notes during meetings and listen attentively. Then, after the meeting, approach a couple of your colleagues and say: “Hi. I was wondering if I could ask you a couple of questions about the meeting we had today.” Such behavior communicates to others you’re engaged. Be curious.
- Propose solutions
Do you see a problem at work that you could work on? If so, instead of presenting a problem, let others know your ideas for a solution. Say: “I feel there is an opportunity for us to improve our digital presence by making better use of video. Have you tried this before?”
- Make strategic connections
Find people who share similar interests and goals through networking. Are there international individuals in your firm you can speak with? Are there departments in your firm that do business with the part of the world you’re from? Reach out to these people and have interesting and global conversations with them. The people who you connect with will be vital contacts when you’re looking to further your career or initiate a project.
- Provide an international perspective
Are there best practices from your country you might be able to share with your coworkers that could improve your organization? Get noticed by sharing with others how your global insights might apply to the U.S. context. The key is to adapt them to your situation.
- Make a meaningful contribution
As an intern, taking ownership over a project is a great way to leave a lasting impact on the company. Going above and beyond the expectations of your role will help you learn new skills and contribute to your organization. Don’t be afraid to take credit for your work!