It won’t be long before thousands of students will enter the real world of engineering for the first time as interns. If my own internship experience is representative, many of them will arrive unprepared.
Sure, most interns will be prepared technically to tackle the projects they’re given, but what most won’t realize is the importance of focusing on the non-technical side of their projects and internships too.
What I’m referring to is the people side of business. More specifically, I’m talking about the importance that relationships play in being successful in an engineering workplace (and in life).
Unfortunately, most engineering curriculums don’t have a class called Relationships 101. After all, we all know how to interact effectively and get along with others, don’t we?
On the contrary, I would suggest that we don’t know nearly as much about this topic as we should. This is a real shame too because if we had this skill it would make life at work a lot more fun, and far more productive. Life outside of work would be much, much better too.
A New STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE is Coming on Internships
For this reason and others, I’m in the midst of finishing a STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE that will focus on internship success.
Scheduled for release soon as a FREE download, it will be titled, DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP: The Ultimate GUIDE to Creating an Awesome and Invaluable Experience as an Engineering or STEM Intern.
Given what’s in this post so far, you’d be right to suspect that the new GUIDE will provide significant guidance on how to initiate and build a wide array of relationships during an internship.
I’m in the camp that believes that building sound, authentic relationships should be a top priority for all interns. There are many reasons for this, but here are five of my favorites.
Five Reasons Interns Should Make Building Relationships a Priority
Reason #1: You Can Learn From Others
Internships are all about learning and growing. But you can’t learn in isolation. Reaching out to coworkers throughout your company is a vital way for you to learn new skills, and to learn about the company, it’s culture, it’s products and services, it’s growth potential, and much more.
The more people you meet and talk with, the more you will learn. Be a sponge and soak it all in.
Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone. Dr. Margaret Wheatley
Reason #2: Others Can Learn About You
Let’s face it. An engineering internship is sort of like an extended interview where you have the luxury of being paid. Whether you like it or not, every conversation you have leaves an impression with the other person, and ultimately with the company.
Along with excelling at your assigned projects, another important job is to ensure that the impressions you leave with others are positive. This is isn’t hard, but it does require that you be intentional about it.
Reason #3: Skill-building For The Long Haul
Interns are students. Companies don’t expect you to know everything and to be perfect.
Why not use your internship session to build and hone the relationship skills that will be vital to building a remarkable career after graduation? It’s ok if you make a mistake or two along the way.
Reason #4: It’s Fun
It can be a bit scary at first if you’re a rookie, but reaching out to others who you don’t know can be a lot of fun. It can be a real kick to find people who have interests in common with you.
The advice I give young people (and adults too) who need to build the skill of reaching out to others is to download (it’s FREE) and use my first STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE. It’s titled, Conducting Informational Interviewing, and provides step by step instructions on how to master this important life skill.
Reason #5: Internship Friendships Can Turn Into Long Term Professional Relationships
One of the favorite stories I like to share about this topic is how a coworker I met during my first John Deere internship in 1979 became a side-by-side project partner almost 30 years later.
With the advent of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media apps, it’s even easier today to maintain and build a relationship that you start during an internship.
Question: What’s a favorite piece of advice that you would offer a a first time engineering intern about building relationships? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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