By, Erika Peyton
At CLDC we push leadership like it’s our job – oh wait, it is! We encourage engagement in leadership workshops like Foundations for First-Year Students or 21st Century Leadership Series. We’ve even updated 21st Century to better meet your needs as developing leaders and professionals. Leadership Coaching was created to provide students with real life opportunities to set goals, develop essential leadership skills, and learn to articulate those skills to future employers. So, how are leadership skills related to making the most of your summer internship?
The six leadership skills that we emphasize have two important factors: 1) employers want them, and 2) they are transferrable. This means, that any company you seek employment with will value the leadership skills. We could have written a typical blog post about the importance of “treating the internship like a job,” or “taking initiative” – but clearly those recommendations already exist. While valuable, they emphasize what you can give and say little about what you’ll take away from your experience.
At summer’s end, you’ll want to leave the internship with solid experiences that helped you develop transferrable skills. We recommend the top leadership skills desired by employers…
Utilize your internship time to clarify which aspects of the industry interest you most. Practice new skills and determine your strengths. Recognize which skills you not only have, but are most motivated to use.
Volunteer to be part of a team, or suggest collaboration on projects with other interns.
Learn the ins-and-outs of the company/department/team/project. This will help you to identify real gaps and suggest potential solutions. Keep in mind, you’ll need to be well informed and have demonstrated trustworthiness and a strong work ethic before throwing around ideas for change.
Practice your communication skills with other interns, your supervisor, and employees by asking questions, getting feedback on emails/reports you write, or by just asking people to grab coffee or lunch.
During an internship, you will likely be asked to participate and support a variety of projects – possibly at a moment’s notice. As a former Internship Coordinator and supervisor, let me assure you, the students that were asked back and considered for full time opportunities were those who adapted quickly to changing needs.
Skill with innovation will make you stand out during your internship, but especially during your eventual job search. This summer, take a few risks – within reason – by testing new ideas or by practicing selling the need for a change.