Written by Kunwarpreet Singh Behar, 2018 Silicon Valley CareerPath Internship Program - SVO Research & Communications Intern
Ah yes, a universal rite of passage, my first job, because nothing says internship like spending a whole summer cleaning spreadsheets, taking calls, and earning minimum wage; am I right? Personally, I like work; it fantasizes me. I can sit and look at it for hours.
Well, that's one way of looking at it but the world changes when we change our perspectives. Imagine a salesman without the enthusiasm, he would just be another dull sales clerk. I say that because exactly three weeks ago, I walked into my office with that mindset. I didn’t expect to learn much, just looked forward to brushing up on some old skills, but I was in for a surprise.
The first step! The first step I took, I knew at that very moment that I had a valuable journey ahead of myself. It was nothing that I had pictured in my head, it was nothing that I had seen in movies. There was no old boss walking around, looking over the workers shoulders to see if they were on task. There weren’t people in there little cubicles, hunched over, typing away on their laptops. It was rather a hip and inviting environment, an environment where I knew I could prosper and thrive in.
Shaking hands with the CEO, watching the World Cup on my first day, meeting fellow interns from various industry sectors that had lots to offers, and my favorite, visiting a special conference room that looked like a place where James Bond would have a secret meeting with the president. It felt like a big family.
Why the SVO?
The Silicon Valley Organization. Having been raised in the Silicon Valley, Computer Science has played a vital role in my life. Java has become a second language for me. It’s no surprise, that in this day and age, technology touches every aspect of our lives. In result, whenever I thought of internships, the first companies that would pop up in my mind were Google, Apple, Facebook, and so on … but why never companies such as The SVO? Because it isn’t a Fortune 500 company?
It may not be a Fortune 500 company but I have learned that it’s much more than that, it’s the backbone of our community. Who would have ever thought that a team of 17 people could be capable of representing 300,000+ employees across the Silicon Valley. The company has been a connector, convener, and a collaborator of business for 130+ years with over 1400 business partners as of 2018.
Tomorrow's workforce …
“It’s encouraging to see what tomorrow's workforce has to offer” - Geoffrey Sarabia-Mason, BPR Properties
Strive San Jose is a workforce education initiative with the goal of connecting education and industry through unique partnerships.
Since I am a research and communications intern, my current project is an employer engagement and research project. The goals are to engage employers and show them we appreciate them and also to gather useful data to help improve the program. My job was to call 100+ supervisors, gather feedback regarding their experience with their intern, and create social media posts with the use of the data. After two days of leaving voicemails and listening to Beethoven’s symphonies while on hold, I had managed to gather data from 52 supervisors. It may not have been 100% but why look at the 50% that's missing when you have 50% that's present.
The questions I asked the supervisors were:
- Have you ever supervised an intern before?
- How many years have you worked at your company?
- Would you be willing to mentor your intern if they reached out to you for career advice after the internship?
- What is one strength you see in the intern and what is one thing that they can improve on?
The results that we got were nothing short of what we had expected.
- 68% of the intern supervisors had supervised an intern before
- 95% of the supervisors would be willing to mentor the intern after the internship
- According to the supervisors, 85% of the interns possess qualities of a successful employee
What are these qualities exactly?
Strong work ethic ✅
Communication skills ✅
Attention to detail ✅
Who were the supervisors?
We had 100+ supervisors from 70+ companies in 14 industry sectors ranging from transportation to information technology to hospitality.
Here is a breakdown of the interns supervisors and the amount of time that they have worked for their respected companies.
Planting Relationships! Marketing Yourself! Networking!
Networking. A term that has been thrown around a lot in the last month or so, for me. But what does it really mean? Why is it so important? What is the trick to doing it correctly?
Networking, in its simplest terms, is connecting with people. We do it everyday! Every time we go to a family function, every time we go to work, every time we go to school, we are are always meeting new people. Having a well-established network has become a prominent part of our lives. Just think about it, who would you ask if you ever needed to buy a new car? A new house? Or needed to know a good place to dine at? I’m guessing you would likely ask a family member, a friend, a fellow peer, or maybe even a colleague.
These are all ways of networking.
In today’s world, networking has become an essential aspect of one’s journey to employment. Even if you don’t plan on searching for a new job, developing relationships and connections within your network may open more doors and provide opportunities to advance your career. So it’s all about who knows you.
That’s networking and its importance in a nutshell but where do we start?
Networking is definitely not quantum mechanics but its no piece of cake either. You don't want to go to a networking event and just hand out business cards left and right, that would be awkward, sadly many of us do that. So how would you network correctly?
Networking 101. Simple and effective steps to building relations.
- Set a goal for yourself. You don’t have to make 50 new connections on linkedin in one day but start off small, set a goal of meeting three new people at every networking event.
- Make great first impressions! Dress to impress! Have a great handshake! You might have heard these a million times but it's true, these things do matter. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
- Show interest! The last thing you want to do is be on your phone while the other person is talking. Show interest to them and what they have to offer, you never know, they might hold the key to your next job.
- Don’t be greedy. Try to lend a helping hand whenever possible. We must give more in order to get more.
- Last but definitely not least, don’t let your relations get washed away. Always keep in touch. Grab a coffee once in a while, take them out to lunch, or simply shoot them a quick text asking them how they are doing.
Where does my perspective stand now?
What is the point of eyes if you have a blind mind? Change the way you look at things in life and the things you look at change.
What is an internship to me now?
It’s a milestone, an opportunity, a chance to create stepping stones out of tumbling rocks, my first work experience, because nothing says internship like spending the whole summer building professional connections, picking up on new skills from the industry, and becoming a more resourceful person than I was yesterday. Everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose, make the most of it.
If you wish on changing the world, start by changing yourself.