The old adage says that money makes the world go around. You don't need to be employed to know this. It's safe to say that most people are generally working for money and seek to get paid more as they advace their careers. Compensation can be that cold-hard cash we all know and love, or it can also be your capital-which vests and gains value over time.
That is exactly how I like to think of an internship: It's the capital you need in order to build your career. Let's start with the foundation, how do you gain career capital?
Myth vs. Truth
I meet with so many students around the world who tell me they don't have relevant work experience and therefore don't consider applying for their industry's internships.
Myth: You don't have to have exact professional experience for what the role calls for.
Truth: Everything you've done up until this point, whether it be retail, food service, nannying, or starting your own neighborhood business in high school is relevant work experience.
Let's break that down a bit. If you've ever worked in retail you know it centers on one core principal: customer service. Understanding how to listen, problem solve, and delight customers is absolutely transferable to industry-related experience. If you were a nanny, you probably managed a complex family schedule, helped children with homework, cooked, cleaned, and much more. Hello, multitasking! For those of you who built an app, started a blog, or founded a club or organization, this shows entrepreneurship, leadership, drive, and most importantly, passion.
Many of our SAP iXp recruiters aren't looking for the perfect GPA or a list of honor courses you took. They're looking at your resumé holistically. They want to know what you are passionate about. What do you do in your spare time outside of class? It's up to you to get creative about how you look at your career capital. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised to see how much you have already deposited in your account. If none of these apply to you, it's never too late to gain capital. Join a club, volunteer at a local organization, and get involved!
Choosing your Investment
Now that you have some capital, how do you choose an internship that fits your needs?
Do your research. Just like an investment account, you want to ensure you're investing in an internship program that will give you the biggest ROI on your career capital. The best places to gain insight on a company are Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and of course, your network. Do a LinkedIn search to see if any of your classmates, friends, or family members have worked at the company you're interested in. Reach out to them and ask for their honest feedback. Bonus: You'll also be building your network, which brings us to another popular adage: your network is your net worth. See what we did there?
Spend some time on the company's career site -- watch recruitment videos, listen to former intern testimonials (we have a few here, here and here), and dig into what extracurriculars its internship program offers. Added bonus: A recruiter loves it when you take the time to reference their recruiting material.
A holistic internship program program will be project-driven, offer additional learning curricula, and hold events that bring the culture of the workplace to life, whether through an after-work beer bash or a baseball game outing. For example, within SAP iXp, we focus on giving our interns opportunities to expand their skillset while working on project-based work aligned to their skills and expertise. Our curriculum focuses on things universities aren't necessarily teaching and hiring managers don't have the time to teach, such as emotional intelligence in the workplace and building a compelling business strategy. The opportunities are beyond the 9-5 schedule, with regional onboarding summits, mentorship mapping, virtual learning platforms, and much more.
Each and every program component within an internship is an opportunity to invest more into your career capital. Find a program that is going to give you more than just a few new bullets on your resume.
Utilizing your Capital
Awesome, you got an invterview with your dream company, now what? Easy, prepare for your interview.
That seems like a given, but the interview is your opportunity to get to know the business on a more personal level and vice-versa. One of the first questions our recruiters ask is: "Why do you want to work for us?" This is your opportunity to tell your story. Did you grow up watching your mom pioneer engineering for women at her organization? Are you fascinated with marketing campaigns and how people make decisions. Having a compelling story is one of the biggest career capital investments you can make. Whatever you do, don't regurgitate your resume-we already have it infront of us. When the recruiter asks if you have any questios for them, you should always say yes!
Here are some of my favorite questions:
- Can you describe how the company values flexibility and creative freedom?
- What are the company's opportunities for early talent development?
- What is it like to find a mentor when hired full-time?
It's important to think of the people you surround yourself with as carer capital, as well. Good mentors focus on building character versus competency. They help shape people's values, self-awareness, and capacity for respect. Sure, mentors can help you polish a specific skillset, but are they ensuring you're growing into a well-rounded individual both inside and outside the office? Like any good relationship, mentorship should be a two-way street. Good mentees are prepared, they listen and aren't afraid to share their own tips and tricks.
Look at EVERY opportunity you've had as gaining career capital, no matter how big or small. Do your research on what is offered within internship programs and beyond. Just remember to start small, be intentional with your investments and know that career capitol can come in all forms, so be open to them all.
Are you ready to take the next step towards interning at SAP? Visit our careers page to see available positions in the SAP iXP internship program.