In the last three years I’ve had a chance to work with a number of smart young talent. It was an amazing journey and it’s the most satisfying feeling to see SAP’s Internship Experience Project (iXp) interns successfully continue their careers and follow their passions.
When I go back in time and look back on the memories, I’m always amazed by the progress interns make during the internship. If you’re unconvinced as to why experience is paramount in an internship, here are four reasons why it matters most:
One of the major transformations interns go through is discovering their self-confidence in the workplace. This is based on the feeling that you’ve finally had a chance to achieve something real that made a difference to the business and your customers.
In addition, unlike the education system which focuses more on traditional learning from textbooks, quizzes and memorization, in the workplace, your decisions and ideas matter and you’re tackling problems through a project-driven approach. You’ve proven yourself to your boss, your teammates and most importantly, to yourself.
Our education system is passive and the biggest “culture shock” for students facing the business place for the first time is that the workplace requires much more proactivity and self-engagement. Newbies to the workforce have to pick-up quickly that taking extra action to be able to get where they want to be is imperative for their career.
Social Networking and Team Cooperation
Before we start our career, our social networks are growing around us organically based on interpersonal connections, same interests and backgrounds.
However, when we join a complex business such as SAP and Concur we are suddenly a part of a bigger and more diverse community connected by professional attributes.
You have to be willing to shift your perspective and adjust based on larger organizational needs and business goals. Your decisions are not always based on what you think is the best for you or your team, but what is best for the whole organization.
This is the third most important shift I witness within our intern cohorts, they learn to make new relationships quickly and adapt to different professional and social interactions.
Making the best of your time
Studying and working at the same time can be challenging. You need to make important decisions to prioritize what is important for you and focus on those things. The majority of interns understand how to take full responsibility and control over their schedule and own their own time management.
These are not the only transformations that I experienced through observing our interns throughout their time at iXp, obviously there are other technical and other skills they gained. But these four key learning are soft-skills you can only get within on-the-job experience, and their resumes are far more enhanced by gaining this institutional knowledge.