What an Ideal Day at an Internship Might Look Like

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Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

Business is about teamwork, and a strong culture of support. So is a successful education.

In fact, a day at an internship is as much of a learning opportunity as school can be.

Wondering what an ideal day at an internship might look like? Curious what makes the superheroes at Empowerly special? In this interview, some of our superheroes reflect on our journey and how it demonstrates the importance of community learning. Read on for more insights from the Silicon Valley experience. Plus, at the end, we’ll give you some hints on how to land a great position!

Whether you’re curious about the field of business, trying to launching a world-changing project of your own, or simply wondering what a good, meaningful day at an internship involves, this article will show you what a difference our approach can make.

Background: How Do We Know What an Ideal Day at an Internship Involves?

A little about us: Empowerly is an education technology company focused on helping high school students navigate the college admissions process. We are building a marketplace that connects high school students with experts to help them reach their dreams.  

Like most markets, educational support is a competitive one. Therefore, the value and knowledge of our experts is a reflection on our standards, making the hiring and training process incredibly important for our brand and for our customers. We take our team membership very seriously.

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“I’ve learned that the team is one of the most important factors in success. In addition to the team, building a culture is equally important and is a major driver of long-term company and customer success.”

Interns and Hiring

The first step in building a team is hiring. There are many companies that do this exceptionally well. In fact, hiring and training may be the biggest strength of many of the largest Fortune 500 companies. Putting smart people on focused problems and giving them resources to accomplish their goals is incredibly important. 

Both during the interview process and on the job, you should strive to be a good candidate. As a result, presenting a strong work ethic as an intern – and viewing the same in your peers – makes for a positive environment. In a good hiring process, you will know what is expected of you and feel respected.

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“I suspect in many businesses, cooperation is a big part of leadership. Trust those who are helping you build your vision and always listen. Today we use over 10 variables to screen the top 5% of applicants from the Top 10 schools in the United States. We are constantly learning how to hire and who makes a good counselor based on the vast amounts of data we collect each day.”

“Our data-driven approach to hiring definitely pervades our culture at Empowerly. We believe understanding students requires both a qualitative and quantitative approach, and that starts with tracking them during some of their most important years – middle school and high school.”

Training: Each Day at an Internship

Once you have great talent, the next step is to give them the resources and knowledge to succeed. This is true of any position. Many exceptional candidates already have some pertinent knowledge. As an intern, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Furthermore, don’t feel nervous to ask for a tutorial if you don’t know how to do a task yet. Each day at an internship is a chance to acquire new skills. Sharing and gaining knowledge is one of the most important aspects of this experience, and it’s okay to advocate for that.

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“I have found that I overestimate how much people know about admissions. Having been a friend to many startups in the Bay Area, I find this is a common trend among small and medium-sized businesses, and sometimes even leaks into larger businesses. Once you have the key information, it’s really about how you share it with the customers.”

“I think the key for us here has been putting systems in place–a system where all members of the team can contribute knowledge back into a central place. This approach has worked wonders for us and is basically a crowdsourced approach to training.”

Over time, protocols and procedures are put in place as companies grow to ensure quality of work. A good internship will provide a measure of structure to expand your toolbox. Like any growth-mindset work environment, we believe that in the earliest stages performance reviews are everyday. Because of this, our goal is to create an open environment without politics. Learning is key.

Day to Day: Building a Strong Intern Culture

We all read about this in the news: create an open environment where employees are empowered. In fact, this is a key component of an ideal work environment and day at an internship. But how do you actually do that, and what does a culture actually mean?

“I think culture practically means the unsaid routines and ways of conducting yourself based on everyone else in the group. This definition applies to companies, nonprofits, and in general groups of people. It starts at the top but quickly gets amplified. Employees transmute their interpretation of culture to each other based on what they think those before thought it meant.”

“We have clearly defined our company mission and our values and this is included in every training. The real challenge is living these values every day! And we do that.”

While today, it may seem that virtual “work-together time” is as close as we get to sharing a space, think of ways to gather. Another key element of culture is the space in which you work with your team. Logically, the space you work in often defines what you think about and interactions between different people who normally would not interact.

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“We have been lucky to have been a part of the UC Berkeley SkyDeck and Stanford StartX start-up incubators. The entire team behind each program has been enormously helpful in facilitating interactions with other technology companies and showing us how larger companies actually work. Both are top notch incubators for technology professionals in the Bay Area.”

In other words, teamwork. Prioritize collaboration as much as possible and learn from the other members of the team where you are interning to learn as much as possible about others’ work. By doing so, you will maximize on your learning opportunity.

Conclusion

As you can see, culture is about hiring, training, and living the values you set for your company. A perfect, valuable, worthwhile day at an internship starts with a clear mission and a driven team. Above, we have presented a few practical ways that we have started to build our culture and what has worked. We are always iterating, and focused on strengthening our core community, which makes us unique. Just as a good learning environment should always be.

Are you a high schooler who needs help with the internship search?

Did you know Empowerly offers an internship matching program that helps students find positions at early stage startups? When complete the registration process for this special program, you can get introductions to up to three startups in our network looking for high school interns. They will have business roles available, as well as technical roles depending on your skill set. We’ll help you with resume and interview support from the team to get you ready to ace it.

Want to learn more about Empowerly’s start-up internship matching program and put these skills to the test? Book a consult with one of our team members to learn more about how to enroll and get started today. 

Questions? Let us know!