This past summer, I had the unique opportunity to intern at LoungeBuddy, a tech startup in San Francisco. I learned so much, that by the end of the internship I had pages and pages of notebook filled with insightful lessons that will guide me through any career that I choose. You can read about my experience at loungebuddy.com/blog.
Although there are just too many lessons to put in a blog post, I have carefully curated a hand-picked list of the ones that I think will be most insightful to this audience, the upcoming class of high-school interns.
Unlike my high school experience, over-preparing was not a thing during my internship. You should always review your research before going into a meeting or even simply talking to a coworker about work. This might include having a deeper look at your notes or running through some sample questions your partner might want to know more about.
Try not to give up your attention to detail in high pressure situations. If you are asked to do a demonstration during a meeting with lots of people around, make sure to go a little slower than usual, paying attention to the small things that often are forfeited with high pressure.
I also had to learn and adapt to the company's way of communicating. I quickly found out that Slack was the day-to-day tool while emails served as the way to send important letters usually with documents to several people at once as well as communicating with people outside the company.
4. If you are relatively new to the world of working in tech and are looking for a first internship, I would recommend that you join a small startup rather than a large corporation for 2 reasons. First, it allows you to explore so many different jobs and career pathways. For example, I was able to talk to a graphic designer, engineer, business developer, customer service lead, all in one internship. Secondly, everything moves quicker in a small company, allowing for a fast paced internship that makes it feel like you have been at the company for nearly a whole year even though your internship is only a mere 3 months.
5. Especially as an intern, when someone asks you to do a favor, immediately put that task on the top of your to-do list. This shows that you are serious about your work and that you are excited to help out whenever possible. Try your very hardest to start and finish a task to avoid having to remember which ones are incomplete and where you put them. Once a task is done, put it in the correct area and move on.
6. Make sure that you have some sort of paper and pencil with you at all times of the day. Insightful comments and invaluable lessons can come at you at the most random times, and as an intern, you are here to learn and remember these pieces on information!
7. Slides on a presentation should not be used for speaker notes, nor should they be used as a written report. If all of the information you are presenting is on the slideshow, then the audience will become less engaged and likely will not listen to your interpretation of the information
8. Software companies don’t require everyone to know how to code. There are plenty of jobs on the non-technical side such as business development, customer service, or even graphic designing sometimes!
9. Whenever you find yourself wanting to praise someone, make sure to do it publicly so that others can also appreciate what they have done. We did this through a slack app called HeyTaco. Everyone had 5 tacos everyday to distribute, and you could give them to whoever you wanted in the office. Not to brag or anything, but I was second on the leader board when I left!
Personally, it doesn't make much sense to me that any kid should be subject to learning nearly 15 years of material without getting a single chance to apply to real life. Although this unfortunately is the path that nearly all children have to take, I was not keen on going from age 4 to 18 without having a way to apply my new skills. So when I first got the news that I was allowed to work full time during my next summer, I got right to my homework of finding a company that I felt I already had a connection to, and that could benefit from a passionate young intern like me.
10) And last but not least...never underestimate the delays of a commuter train!