It’s that time of the year when college students are applying for summer internships. Some are doing it to secure a job after college, some just want it for the experience, and others do it because their parents are tired of them “hanging out” all summer. Nevertheless, students tend to go through the motions when interning. During my summer internship at Ernst & Young, I was determined to leave with some type of road map to start a business.
Here are a couple of tips that helped me along the way:
1. Do more than expected
Don’t go the extra mile just to show off to your employer. Do it because you want to learn as much as possible on how a business is operated. As an entrepreneur, you are always expected to do more than what is expected. Being able to build such a work ethic as an intern prepares you for the bumpy road to entrepreneurship. It also allows you to get a basic understanding of different departments within a business.Throughout the process, you find out what you are good at, but most importantly what you have a passion for. Working for a firm is a bit different. However, I asked if I could work with as many industry clients as possible. That’s where I found my love for technology-based companies.
2. Pay attention to your environment
Besides group projects for school, an internship is the best way to take notes on what to look for in a business partner amongst your peers. If you are looking to start a business in college, the chances are you won’t be able to do it yourself and more than likely your partner will be a college student as well. I was very fortunate to intern with bright individuals and always took a mental note of different traits and attributes I wanted to surround myself with. Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of Skype, says to “Surround yourself with smart, dedicated people. To build something isn’t a one-man show”.
3. Find a Mentor
Before starting your internship, take some time to research executives at the company. Find the individuals with the experiences or talents you would like to learn from and reach out to them. It may sound intimidating at first, but you would be surprised to see how open people can be when it comes to mentoring others. Having a mentor throughout your internship enables you to see the business from an executive perspective. Ask questions such as: How did you get to where you are today? What would you do differently if you were 21?
When I was an intern, my mentor was a partner at the firm. I will never forget what he told me on my 21st birthday before my internship. He said, “Even though I am partner I don’t make the real money. But I will tell you who does. The average Joe from Harvard with a great idea and a five year business plan.” That day, I decided I was going to make USD (University of San Diego) my Harvard, learn how to crunch numbers through my internship, and when a good idea came around, dive into it and never look back.