Don’t Be a Dumb Ass. Make the Most Out of Your Summer

Congratulations!  You’ve recently been accepted to a summer internship, recruited for a summer job, or made it through another semester of graduate school.  The summer is ahead of you and you’re looking forward to getting your head out of the box and into the real world.  As I told new crop of interns in Washington DC earlier this year,  “Don’t be a dumb mass.  Make the most out of your summer.”It should go without saying that you should be professional and respectful of others in your workplace.  By being professional means dressing appropriate for your role and acting as if you were in a job interview (which you are).   Take a look  and with the staff at your new workplace is wearing.  They’re wearing shirts with collars, ties and coats, then you need to wear shirts with collars, ties and coats.  This does not mean that you need to lose your individual style.  Instead, look at what people are wearing and then say how does my style fit in.  For example, when I had my 1st internship in Washington DC many years ago, I wore a suit to work.  The minute 5 o’clock with and I would put on a pair of red Adidas soccer shoes you ready for my commute home.  The red shoes became a bit of a joke in the office as people knew but had a fun site I still could be a very serious.  Course, if I was going out for drinks after work, the red shoes stayed in my travel bag.

I also suggest that you make a plan for the summer that lists:

  1. What you wish to produce (outputs),
  2. What you wish to learn, and 
  3. Who you would like to have as a long-term contract.

Going into the summer with the plan of what you produce is especially useful.  At the end of the summer you will be able to use this item in the portfolio, on your webpage, or for other recruiting prospects.  It is also something that you can develop further, say if you were employed at the group later on.

In a similar vein, consider what you would like to learn for the summer.  If you’re interested in a certain career path, speak to the head of that department organization and say you’re interested in a career path.  Expressive them that you have a certain list of things you would like to learn, and ask them what else they might add to this list.  For example, if you are interested in statistics but have less experience with statistics, ask to be involved in a project that involves stats.

Next, consider who you would like to have as a long-term contact of that organization.  I suggest 3 individuals that each working a different capacity.  First, individual that directly supervises you should be able to write your reference when you leave for the summer or 5 years down the line.  Keep in contact with his individual the years to come.  Second, I suggest you meet the direct supervisor or head of the department you’re working in.  But you may not work with them directly, they need to be aware of your work and certainly there are great contact have in the years to come.  Third, I suggest you meet someone in a different department, as this individual might be able to help you network outside of your arena.  Take all of these individuals up to lunch, even a casual one, add them to your LinkedIn page, and when the internship and send them all a thank you note.

Good luck and don’t be a dumb ass!