Internships are designed to be a win-win: students can experience a slice of what “real life” looks like at a company, and the company can evaluate potential new hires.
In 2007, five of us were selected to kick off West Monroe’s first official group of interns. Believe it or not, each of us has remained with the firm and grown into leadership positions across the office. Whether that means eventually creating a new division within the firm or becoming a sought-after infrastructure expert, internships gave us a starting point to explore West Monroe, learn more about consulting, and even learn more about ourselves. Just like our internship program, we original five interns from 10 years ago have “grown up” at West Monroe and are excited to watch the next round of homegrown interns go tackle an array of complex business and technical challenges.
They seem to be ready to accept the challenge, so here is our advice for them:
1. Just do it.
One thing that is so great about internships is that you get to go back to college afterward. That being the case, my biggest advice is to wake up every day, roll up your sleeves, and dive into WMP (please, not literally). Don’t wait to be asked for something, give it a try, and review it with your manager, career advisor, or coach. Shake a new hand every day, go introduce yourself, ask to draft an email, take absurdly detailed notes, send meeting recaps, wake up early for coffee meetings, travel to your client, go to team dinners, order appetizers, organize an intern event….the opportunities are endless. This is a time to explore/learn more about yourself as a small preview of “life after college,” and this is the best time to try new things. No one knows you here, so now is the perfect time to start creating your brand. It’s important; just do it.
– Ben Baenen, Senior Manager, Healthcare & Life Sciences
2. Be a sponge.
One of the biggest reasons why I’ve stayed with WMP since 2007 years is the caliber and experience of the people with whom I’ve worked, both on my team and even on other teams. The value in this became apparent even as early as my internship experience. People at WMP are willing to teach, share, coach, and mentor; they want to see you succeed. But you have to be open and humble enough to let it happen. Be a sponge and listen to their experiences – that’s where the real magic happens.
– Dan Frein, Architect, Security & Infrastructure
3. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.
The most powerful learning comes from direct experience. However, if you are like me when I was an intern, then you may have interest in many potential career paths. Practically, you may not have time to directly experience them all. I recall advice I was given: “You can do anything you want to do, but you can’t do everything you want to do.” Fortunately, you can learn indirectly from others through their experiences. Tap into that wealth of experience. Find as many opportunities as possible to get to know and learn from your colleagues, clients, and fellow interns.
– Joel Graves, Senior Manager, Financial Services
4. Be mindful of your experience.
As a college student coming into an organization like West Monroe, it can be completely overwhelming. There is so much that happens in such a short amount of time, it feels like you’re drinking out of a firehose the entire summer. And while it might be easier to put your head down and “get through it,” I encourage each intern to take a minute to step back and take a breath, so that they can truly enjoy the experience. Internships are awesome opportunities to begin building networks with professionals and peers, as well as understand what life will be like after graduating. It is also a culmination of the hard work that each student has completed, so it should be enjoyed and celebrated appropriately.
– Mike Manfredo, Principal, Customer Experience
5. Say YES!
Regardless of the type of company and the maturity of an internship program that an intern may be joining, the real value of the experience comes down to this one thing: What you put into it, that’s what you will get out of it. A summer internship is ripe with opportunities to learn and have fun both personally and professionally. Say yes! Engage with people outside the group you are “officially” part of, go to all the planned social events, and plan more!
– Emily Pillat, Senior Manager, Lead of the Visual Design Capability