March 1, 2019 by Ahalya Ravieshanker
With summer quickly approaching, one question typically comes to mind – how am I going to spend my time for the next four months? For many first-years, the answer to that question is an internship. However, acquiring an internship and getting value out of it is quite difficult.
Where do I start? Who do I talk to? Which firms are hiring first years? Is my resume good enough? Do I need a corporate job? What are the day-to-day duties of a first-year intern? These are just a few of many questions first-years have regarding internships, making approaching job hunting an intimidating and confusing task.
To provide some answers to your questions and to give you a look into first-year internships, PBSN has decided to speak to some HBAs to describe and reflect on their experience as first-year interns.
Colin Yip HBA2 – Canopy Lab, Customer Success Intern
Colin Yip was a Customer Success Intern at Canopy Labs which he was able to obtain by searching for start-ups that sparked his interests and handing out his resume. Canopy contacted Colin for an interview, and he was, later, offered the job. His role as a Customer Success Intern included running a number of accounts relatively independent of his manager, executing analytics strategy for Canopy’s clients, and bringing actionable recommendations for product or process improvements. Colin’s internship didn’t come without its challenges; he needed to overcome the initial learning curve of a fast-paced work environment.
“Learning to manage both my time and other people (including my manager) was essential to being able to execute consistently. I think the most important skill to address both of these in a startup environment is to learn to push back, even as an intern, which doesn’t necessarily entail saying no but rather involves setting realistic expectations.”
After his internship was completed, Colin gained valuable advice regarding first-year internships, specifically how to be successful during your internship and how to benefit from it.
“As a first year, it’s hard to bring skills or experience to the table, so it’s really a game of attitude. Of course, it greatly helps to learn skills in the industry you’re looking for (e.g. programming, modelling, etc.) so that you can speak to it, but most employers understand that you’d be coming in in a partial learning capacity. Be aggressive, understand that you’re going to get a lot of no’s at first, and be flexible with the opportunities that you’re looking for.”
Shehryar Mansoor, HBA2 – BlackBerry, Summer Analyst
In Shehrayr’s first year, he attended a career fair and spoke with a firm representative regarding available positions for students. He later applied through a portal and received a job offer. His position as Summer Analyst entailed numerous roles, including revenue management for the BBM platform, managing advertising campaigns, monitoring the P&L for different campaigns, and helping transition to a new advertising management platform. Shehryar’s internship was challenging, specifically regarding finding a balance between asking questions and figuring things out on his own.
“I was eager to prove myself but naturally had situations where I needed help with a task. In some instances, I wasted time trying to do things on my own, whereas asking a senior would have been far more efficient. With time, I tried to balance this with asking questions, so that I would still be able to think critically and get help when I needed it. This was very helpful in shaping my experience at the firm and building strong relationships with seniors.”
After a successful summer as an intern, Shehryar has gained valuable insights towards first-year internships. He specifically speaks towards how to be successful in obtaining an internship.
“When job hunting, it is very important to cast a wide net. Although you might be interested in a specific industry, the only goal for your first internship should be to get some experience working in a corporate/office environment. Upper year students are also a tremendously useful resource – a quick LinkedIn search can help you find people who have worked internships in previous years, and they can certainly guide you on how to approach firm-specific application and interview processes. Finally, it is very important to be proactive. Sending out applications is good, but successful candidates almost always make an effort to reach out to people at the firm directly to make a stronger impression.”
Erinna Ma, HBA2 – M.F Consultants, Sales & Marketing Intern
Erinna Ma began searching for a job on Indeed, a site with hundreds of job postings/listings, and sent in her resume. She received an offer to be a Sales & Marketing Intern for M.F Consultants. Her internship required her to conduct sales calls which promoted the firm’s collection of hotels and resorts to the travel industry, assist with the content creation, design, and distribution of materials for email campaigns, and train new hires. Erinna ran into some obstacles during her experience as an intern, especially dealing with failure.
“I had to set my dejection aside, maintain a professional attitude, and work harder at achieving my daily targets. I expressed my desire to improve and learn to my employer, who was kind enough to guide me through the process. As a result, I was able to develop more resilience and positivity in my attitude towards challenges in the future.”
As Erinna reflects on her first-year internship, she has many recommendations regarding how to obtain a job offer.
“Keep applying – even if it takes over a hundred emails – because you’ll never know whether your next attempt could have been successful unless you try. Be professional and do your research before you apply and interview at a firm. It’s only a natural sign of respect, especially if you expect them to invest their time and energy in you.”
Although each HBA worked at different companies and held a unique position, each experienced a similar first-year internship. Their proactiveness and perseverance enabled them to be successful in obtaining an internship and, later on, to be successful within the position itself.
Navigating your first-year internship can be very daunting, but with the aid of these HBAs experience and advice and through your diligence and hard work, a truly valuable first-year internship can be obtained.