When I started as an intern at Allegravita, a PR and Marketing agency in NYC, I was too shy to speak out loud. I had so many worries every day.
“My English is not as good as my colleagues,” I thought, so I didn’t dare to express my ideas during meetings. I didn’t have any experience in social media campaigns, so how could I contribute ideas in brainstorming sessions? Why did my boss ask other interns to join that meeting but not me?
Once, I was running late to a meeting, and the door of the meeting room was made of glass. You can probably guess what happened to me. Yes, the door was actually closed but I ran into the room directly.
Everyone in the meeting looked at me in shock and then started laughing. I was so embarrassed and almost cried. Another time, I couldn’t log into Lastpass—a password encryption software—and I asked my boss what I should do. He was taken aback and told me, “Zoey, you don’t want to ask your boss about what to do with your password.”
Needless to say, the first month of my internship was really stressful and I made so many mistakes. One intern, who started their internship around the same time with me, received a full-time offer before the internship ended. I lacked confidence. I asked for a review meeting with my boss. She told me, I needed to be confident, to take initiatives, and to be more accountable.
Now two years later, I have worked in the NYC office and relocated to China, promoted to Deputy Director of Marketing, and have had several interns myself.
Confidence, accountability, and taking initiatives are 3 key requirements I expect from my interns.
Believe it or not, confidence could be one of the most important characteristics if you want to work for a U.S. company.
You have to be confident to express yourself, contribute your ideas and so forth. Though your English may not be perfect and you may not have a lot of experience, your attitude and confidence matter a lot. People who are confident volunteer to take over tasks and make a significant contribution.
You should be confident and accountable.
It is normal to have questions or concerns when receiving a task. You want to make sure you understand what the task is for and what you are supposed to contribute before working on it. You are encouraged to ask questions, but not those to which you can easily find the answers online.
And never miss a deadline assigned to you. If you really have difficulties in completing the task before the deadline, you should tell your boss as early as possible so that he or she could figure out a plan B.
As an intern, your job is to support your boss and save them time. Before sending anything to your boss, double-check to avoid formatting issues, missing information, typos, and to make sure that everything that needs to be included is included. Otherwise, it will probably take your boss more time to check the document and revise.
Don’t expect your boss to solve everything for you, or point out every detail of the task for you. You are expected to take initiative.
If you are assigned a project that includes A, B, C, and D, you are supposed to anticipate what A1, A2, B1, B2, etc. may require to complete the project. Think about it, or do some research, and then check with your boss if you are moving in the right direction. Please note this “rule” does not work for repeated tasks such as statistics reports, which already have clear standards.
So these are the three key lessons I learned from my internship experience and what I expect from my interns now. All these are personal thoughts and they might not be suitable for all situations or industries. I am sharing these with you, dear Carey students, and hoping this blog gives you some fresh ideas.
Graduation season is around the corner; how time flies! I wish you all a great experience at Carey and a bright future!