Today, internships are a vital part of your education that help you build career experience and make you the most competitive candidate in the job market when applying for jobs after college. But internships where you gain deep experience and build a network within a diverse work community can feel few and far between. Through the SAP Internship Experience Project (SAP iXp), I’ve been fortunate to find an internship that offers just that.
As a content marketing intern at Concur, an SAP company, I’ve enjoyed a balance of guidance from my team and freedom to contribute to a growing, fast-paced company in a tangible and effective way. Although a 10-week internship seemed lengthy, once I arrived at Concur, I quickly realized that “Concur time” moves at a quick pace. Throughout my internship, I have constantly been immersed in the development and growth of not only my team – focused on small and mid-sized businesses – but also of the entire company as it takes on the second half of a year of advancement, innovation and success.
In addition to learning about Concur’s products, customers, and industry as an SAP iXp intern, I also learned a few key strategies to geting the most out of an internship:
1. Take the time to meet people.
Your coworkers are your best resource, so getting to know them both personally and professionally is an essential part of your internship. Building a concrete network, both inside and outside of your immediate team, will help you the most out of your experience. Not only will you be able to go to your network as questions pop up – which they inevitably will – but you can also learn about other roles and gain cross-functional experience . Make the time to schedule a few coffee meet-ups – everyone loves to chat over a latte!
2. Ask questions about everything.
There’s no such thing as a dumb question, especially during an internship when you are constantly learning new information about every aspect of the company. It’s like drinking water from a fire hose, and sometimes you need to take a step back and break down exactly what’s being asked of you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they may seem silly or unimportant. The network I referred to before? They’re all there to help you, so make sure to utilize their knowledge whenever possible.
3. Seeking out more work is a good thing.
Although I never had too much downtime during my internship, there were times when I finished a project early. In those situations, I always reached out to my mentor and coworkers to see how I could help them achieve their goals too. Asking for more to do is a good thing – it shows that you know how to manage time, exceed expectations and most importantly, that you are invested in your role and want to contribute as much as possible.
4. If it’s offered, take advantage of it.
This one is a little vague, but that’s absolutely how it’s intended. At Concur, I was given the opportunity to sit in on important company meetings, attend power hour sessions with long-standing executives, network at company-wide events and even partake in some fun intern events along the way. All of these things were considered optional, but who wouldn’t want to learn more about the company in nontraditional ways?
Concur extended invitations to all of these unique events because they added value to my internship and allowed me to continue my learning far beyond the confines of my cubicle, team, floor, etc. Take up every opportunity that you’re able to because there’s no need for your learning to be stagnant at such an innovative company.
5. Be aware of the future.
Internships are essentially a trial-run of the “real world” of work life. Use each experience to find out which aspects of your role you like and which you dislike. Sometimes the best thing to take away from an internship isn’t what you liked, but rather what you didn’t, so you can filter out opportunities in the future that don’t coincide with your aspirations. Projecting into the future can be challenging when you’re still in a university student’s mindset. Keeping your ideas close will help you manage the direction you want to take your career in the years after graduation.
Internships are the perfect way to learn what it’s like to work for a specific company and understand the fields and environments in which you thrive. The SAP iXP internship experience provided me with innumerable ways to become involved at the company and make my personal mark as a content marketing intern. Putting these steps into action will ensure you share a similar success story at your own internship.
Follow our interns throughout the year on the iXp Twitter page and #MyiXpStory.