Thursday, July 19, 2012

Four Tips to Becoming a Successful Intern

Good news everyone, It’s almost Friday! If you are working this summer, I’m sure your respect for Friday has increased tenfold. I myself recently started a new internship with Stanley Black & Decker in the Channel Marketing division. Towson, MD is home to the Construction and DIY World Headquarters, so I work in the consumer products group for Black and Decker and Porter-Cable power tools. Since I’m still fairly new, I’ve been learning a lot of different things all at once. It’s almost like a crash course in the company. To share what I've learned, I decided to compile a list of the top 4 things I’ve recently become super familiar with. You probably aren't power tool savvy so I promise I won't lecture you on drills or jigsaws. Instead I will focus on the things most interns can relate too. If you aren’t an intern yet, I’ve included some advice for the future.

1.     Excel

If Excel were a person, I think we would be best friends right now. Or maybe Frenemies, I’m not sure.  No matter what company you are interning for it is probably a safe bet to assume you are spending some part of your day working with Excel. I myself have spent the last two days staring at it nonstop. I’m not complaining though. I’ve created the most beautiful spreadsheet I’ve ever seen. I’m considering wallpapering my cubicle with it. In all seriousness though, my expertise pre-internship applied mostly to PowerPoint and Word. So just some advice for anyone who hasn’t interned yet, familiarize your self with Excel. 

2.     Office Lingo

This one is something that will be unique to your own company. Regardless, you will have various terms to learn that will have your head spinning for the first few days. Before I began my internship I received a binder with 9 pages of acronyms used at SB&D. Wanna know my favorite? WYDWYADYGWYAG. Otherwise known as “When You Do What You Always Did, You Get What You Always Got”. Whewww, what a mouthful! I’ll be honest though, I haven’t really used that one yet. However, OPP, PPT, DIY, GSV, and a few others have been pretty commonplace (bonus points to anyone that knows what those stand for). My advice: don’t worry about remembering them all, just make sure you know the important ones. Also, don't hesitate to ask if you don’t know the meaning. Most people at the company will completely understand.

3.     Coffee
Always know where the kitchen or cafeteria is. Some companies like SB&D provide coffee, tea, and even hot chocolate for all those mornings or afternoons when you need a little pick-me-up. I always used to make fun of the commercials for 5 Hour Energy that would dramatize the 3 o’clock Crash, but laugh no more! It’s a real thing! Your eyes get heavy, you start mixing up numbers, and pretty soon your beautiful excel sheet is a mess. No worries! Go get a nice steaming cup of caffeine and you’re good to go. However, you really should go to bed early. We only have to play pretend adults for the summer, so suck it up.

4.     My Project

If you don’t know much about your project, you probably aren’t going to be a very successful intern. After all, your internship is basically a really long interview. The company is trying to deicide whether or not you are worth the investment. Don’t let them down! Impress them! Go the extra mile and do your own research. In the past two weeks I’ve learned so much about drills, routers, jigsaws, oscillating tools, and sanders through my assignments, but whenever I have free time I’m always reading customer reviews and familiarizing myself with our products. It pays to know your stuff (literally and figuratively), so learn all you can and your managers are sure to be impressed.

Now get back to work!

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