Intern Series: How to Be a Teachable Intern
The Brand Girls' Rachael Bozsik advises on getting the most out of your internship.
Want to be your office's most sought-after summer intern? It's all about making yourself a "teachable" employee. Here's how to make the most of your experience and show your boss that you're ready to learn.
1. Get clear on your perception
How you think about a situation will either negatively or positively impact your experience. Your perception shapes your reality. For example, as a summer intern, no one expects you to know everything 100% of the time. You're there to learn. So when your boss tells you that the project you just finished isn't up to par, you can either dive into a woe-is-me mentality or stop yourself in your tracks and say, "This is a great learning experience. Let me listen closer and learn from their suggestions.” Set your intention to be teachable.
2. Analyze negative feedback
When you get disappointing feedback, face it with mindfulness. Pull out your paper and pen and write down three things you expected to feel supported on (the specific positive feedback you had hoped for) and then three things that represent the immediate reality. Then, sit back and say to yourself, "Knowing what I know now, what can I do differently to create a stronger result next time?” Being teachable means taking the time to analyze constructive criticism and pivot accordingly.
3. Give yourself props
There will be times this summer when you're excited to share an idea with your co-workers or bosses, only to be disappointed by their response. First of all, give yourself kudos for putting yourself out there—you acted out of faith rather than fear, and that was brave! Take a moment to recognize your successes, rather than depending entirely on others for validation. It'll keep your confidence up. The most sought-after interns are the ones who put themselves out there to contribute their unique voices and creativity.
4. Form a realistic strategy for success
It means being resiliently honest with yourself about your strengths, your weaknesses and how both of those things affect your ability to achieve certain tasks or goals. Think about two things you did at your internship that went really well on the first try. Then, going back to strategy #2, think about a time when the feedback you got wasn't as good as you had expected. This will give you a clearer sense of what you realistically need to do to excel at work.
5. Seek strategic support
The most successful individuals not only understand the unique value they bring to the table, but they also know when it's time to receive outside support and feedback from others. Be collaborative. Look to your co-interns or supervisors to bounce ideas off one another. Not only will you gain a new insight, but more importantly, you will earn a reputation as an intern who's open to learning.
Rachael Bozsik is a millennial entrepreneur, confidence strategist and the CEO and founder of The Brand Girls, a workshop focused on helping young women shift the way they think about themselves and their professional potential.
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