I recently wrote about my best advice for your Israel internship, following my experience working with internship programs in Israel such as Masa Israel Journey, Onward Israel, gap-year programs and others. Those programs could be divided into “short-term” (2 months and below, such as Onward Israel), and “long-term” (2 months and above, such as many Masa Israel Journey programs).
So, if my recent post was my best advice for any program, then looking towards many upcoming short-term programs this summer, I would like to advise on the best strategy for your “short-term” internship.
The challenge of short-term internships – and the opportunity
First, let’s realize that a two-month internship is a very short period of time. As interns, you must be aware of that. And as smart interns who think like business units, you must empathize to your employers and understand what it means for them.
If they take you for only two months, they probably plan to either use every minute of your time, or, most likely – not put themselves in a position to be dependent on you. You see, if they invest one month on you learning the job, and they take into account that in the last two weeks you are effectively already on your next thing, then they are left with only two weeks of expected delivery. It’s simply too short of a time.
So, what are they most likely to do? Well, probably assign tasks that are “nice to have.” And if you actually do get to do something that is not just “nice-to-have” – it’s probably something which requires minimum professional learning before execution (for example, “help us run our social media”).
You must understand this, and where it’s coming from. It’s simply them risk-managing their work. It’s not you, it’s them. However, understanding that is exactly how you turn this disadvantage into an advantage. From challenge to opportunity.
Insist on defined time-framed projects
If you are working on defined projects, which are less than two-months of work, and are ones that have a clear beginning and end, and where the deadline is before the end of your internship – you can acquire absolute victories.
As you plan your internship program ahead, and as you interview for several internship options, gently look for such projects in advance. And once you are already in your internship, look for them around you. You may have tasks and responsibilities which are on-going and are not time-framed, but you could also break them down into such, take a pro-active initiative with your employer, conquer them, and acquire clear achievements.
So, the bottom-line is the following:
- It all begins with knowing what are you looking for in this internship experience, and how it connects to your “why”.
- Then, define for yourself the long, mid and short-term goals for this internship experience.
- Understand that even as a short-term intern, you are all business units, and act like ones.
- Look for short-term projects to execute as early as possible, even when interviewing, before the program begins.
- Coordinate expectations with your employer as effectively and clear as possible, making sure they get a real added value from you, and that you get a real added value from them. In my view, good business units make sure that the other side gets their added value. You for your employer, and your employer for you.
- Once you’re in, continue looking for short-term project opportunities you can execute and finish before the end. Look for the “gold” in the “gray.”
- Make sure week by week that you acquire more relevant things to write about in your recommendation letter.
- Involve your employer as much as possible in the process. Make them a part of your journey, and get them to care as much as you can. It begins by you caring for them first.
“I’m an old physicist. I’m not afraid of death. I’m afraid of time.” – Prof. Brand (from Interstellar, the movie).
In short-term internship programs, your biggest enemy is time. But, it is also your biggest asset, and it is relative. So, grab the bull by the horns, and show all of us what you’re made of.