Aug 2011

Making the Most of Your Internship

We asked program champions and intern managers across the firm what it takes to turn a good student into a great intern. Here’s what you need to know to make a lasting impression.

What’s the best advice you can give a summer intern?

  • Compile a list of goals you plan to accomplish so that you can make the most of your time.
  • A summer internship can be one of the most exciting, fast moving experiences of your career. It’s also a very short time to begin to learn about all of the opportunities available to you.
  • Take every chance to gain as much exposure to professionals as you can.
  • Carry a notebook at all times!

What do you think is the most important core quality an intern could have?

  • Arrive prepared for the day, armed with new questions.
  • Add value wherever and whenever you can.
  • Always have a positive attitude in approaching your work and overall experience.

What are some classic mistakes that interns should avoid?

  • Ignoring junior members of the team - they are key in the hiring process and can give the most relevant insights into the role and who you should meet.
  • Being narrow-minded in terms of what you want to do. Not everyone can be a trader or a banker and not everyone is suited to it. Be open minded and listen to advisors and mentors.
  • Not taking up offers of people's time. If someone asks you to join him or her for lunch, you should go. It is a precious opportunity.

In a competitive market, how can an intern differentiate him or herself from peers?

  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. The more you engage the many resources you have, the more you will learn about this business. Firms are looking for the intern who can best succeed in a permanent role.
  • Take the initiative to expand your understanding of the business. This will highlight your commitment to the firm.
  • Know where you stand. Make sure you are progressing within your team, networking with other individuals and focusing on delivering excellent work.

What should an intern do to prove that he/she is capable of becoming a full-time hire?

  • Try to step into the role of a full time hire. Demonstrate that you can perform the responsibilities that you want to be hired for.
  • Have emotional stamina. It's a tough job with many ups and downs and longer hours than you’re probably used to.
  • Be a sponge.
  • Embrace challenges.

How can an intern turn his/her summer experience into a job offer?

  • Don't compare yourself to others. We are looking for different people for different roles.
  • Ask for feedback early and often. Find out the things you are doing well and keep doing them throughout the summer. Learn your areas of weakness and work towards improving yourself. At the end of the summer be able to show how you have developed as a professional.
  • Prior experience or knowledge in economics is not essential or required. Remember that you were offered this summer internship for a reason - your potential to learn.
  • Keep up your enthusiasm and momentum throughout the summer. Some interns start well and then burn out. Others are slow starters and then shine at the end.
  • Get to know a lot of people early on but have some direction by the mid point of the program so that you are not perceived as being uninterested.

What’s the most important lesson/piece of advice an intern should take away with him/her?

  • You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  • The people you meet and work with over the summer will fall into one of three categories: managers, peers or subordinates. Manage every conversation you have and always manage your actions accordingly.
  • An internship is a learning experience, so make sure you have done your best to learn all that you can.