Be Open with Your Manager
What does it mean to truly be open?
Being open means you are sharing your honest thoughts, feelings, and opinions with others. You are being true to yourself and others through and through.
Why is it important to be open in Corporate America?
Being open will allow you to open doors to new opportunities. For example, if you tell your manager you are interested in a specific area of the business and want to learn more, they may leverage their personal network to set up an introduction. If you had never told your manager, you never would have had that opportunity. Being open also is a health benefit (can’t confirm this medically, but I personally feel it makes you healthier). By sharing your true thoughts and feelings you will be relieving yourself of internal pressures. If you are struggling balancing your work load and tell your manager, you will lift the stresses you’ve placed on yourself. Hopefully your manager will then help you solve the work load issues you’ve been having.
How open is too open?
You should be open about everything up to a certain point. At no point should you lie to your manager about how you are feeling just to tell them what they want to hear. You may not feel comfortable sharing certain information, and that is OK. Share as much as you can to the point where you feel comfortable.
As an intern, I don’t want to burn any bridges - should I be open with my manager that I do not like what I am working on?
Yes. If you have found that the work you are doing is not intriguing to you, I suggest setting up a meeting to tell your manager. You are not saying you do not like them, you are just saying the work is not interesting to you at this time. This may lead them to put you on another project. It is important to keep in mind: you are not attacking your manager as a person, you are simply being open about your thoughts on a project. By sharing this information, there should be no reason to fear retribution from your manager. You are simply being honest.
As an undergrad, I'm not used to these challenging conversations - what should I do?
Open conversations are not always easy to have. You may not be comfortable having open conversations with those at work or from a group project. Those conversations can be awkward! An internship is the time to start practicing those challenging conversations rather than bottling them up inside. Be confident and understand the point you are trying to get across is about you and your feelings towards something, rather than a personal attack (important side note, do not make personal attacks on people - that will go over poorly). If you are frustrated at your campus job, tell your manager your frustrations. You will be relieved you did and will gain valuable practice being open.
Be a Part of the Culture
This seems obvious, why is this part of the Internship Guide?
Being a part of the culture is so important. In order for you to take full advantage of your internship experience, you need to become a true part of the company culture. You are not just there to work, you are there to be a part of a team and a culture that is striving towards a common goal.
What does it mean to be part of the culture?
It means participating in activities and interactions that make the company who they are. Culture is a little tricky to describe, but the way I look at it, it is the communication styles, events, rituals, and manners for getting work done that make up a culture (though this is not a complete list). Taking part in these different sub-segments of culture will ensure you get the most out of your corporate experience. You should become a part of the culture by learning about the different internal communication styles and going to the company events. You will have a richer internship experience if you fully integrate with the culture.
What if I don’t actively work to be a part of the culture?
Well, you likely will not receive an offer to return to the company. Company culture is, arguably the most important factor in hiring decisions. If a candidate does not mesh with the culture, it creates a dynamic that is not healthy for either the employee or the employer. When an employee is not a fit with the culture, they are not as energized to work for the company’s best interests.
How does this relate to undergrad?
Your college or university has a culture. It may be a collection of laid back people that like to party, or it is a culture where spending 12 hours in the library each day is considered admirable. Either way, your school has a culture that, if you have been there for almost 4 years, you have likely assimilated to. It becomes a part of who you are as a person. While the connection you make to your undergrad college or university may be much stronger than a company you work at, there are similarities. At both locations, being fully in tune with the culture will help you advance yourself and the institution.
Our final version of the 2016 Internship Guide launches next Monday. Be sure to check it out so you are fully prepared to start your internship this summer.