Post #28 How to get the Most of Your Engineering Internship
How many ways can you take full advantage of your internship opportunity? Perhaps you don’t realize there is more to gain above and beyond a paycheck and experience. What else do you need to know before you embark? I’m going to tell you how to take advantage of your internship while you can.
Whether your employer uses cutting edge technology or is way behind the times, you should understand their systems. And by the way, you’d be surprised to learn how many companies stick with outdated tech. Two great questions to ask yourself: what are they using in this environment and why? Systems could refer to software, programs, physical machines and all relevant processes to go along with them. If you are not familiar with terms like ERP and SAP, do a little research before you start. ERP is Enterprise Resource Planning and SAP is Systems Application Products, both of which are examples of hugely popular systems. At the end of your internship, you should know about the systems your employer utilizes and why.
Your summer internship will give you a taste of the culture that your employer enables. Every work environment is different, and it always starts with top level management. You may have very casual rules at work, or you may not. Either way, people are humans and some people like to get caught up in non-essential drama. You will notice some people using time and effort toward activities that don’t propel things forward. You may even be extremely surprised at some of the behaviors of other professionals. What you need to do is focus on yourself. Do not engage in work politics and do not play favorites. It is in your best interest to mind yourself all the time unless you have business to discuss. And business discussions can lead to profitable networking.
During your internship, you will be on your best behavior, right? You will always be professional and represent your school well. There are possibly dozens of people you will meet or bump into. You may only have one chance to make a great impression. Some employees will remember you after one meeting. What you need to decide is for what reasons will they remember you? Always ask for business cards and always let them know you’d like to stay in touch. There will be times, perhaps in one year or in a few years, when you may need to lean on their expertise. That is under the assumption, of course, they remember you for the right reasons.
To conclude this post, I want to emphasize that there are several ways you can take advantage of your internship. Your internship is about so much more than experience and money. How will you decide to take full advantage?